The fifth release from Chicago's Teklife Records is Greenlight by DJ Manny. The label audaciously claims that it is 'a masterclass in footwork production' by one of their leading figures: and it's a fair call. Born and raised on the southside of Chicago, Manny has been dancing since the age of 10 and is said to have some of the best moves on the scene. The footwork sound 'has developed in unison with the dance style that accompanies it' and he has an intuition for what works on the dancefloor when channelling his energy in the studio. Instead of sampling (like many of his peers on the scene), he has created his own sounds on the album, giving it a more personal touch. Tracks like "Ghost Out" are dark and dystopian street sound, while there are mellower moments like "You Looking Good" (bridging the gap between liquid drum & bass) while the spitfire beats of "Life In This Bitch" features frequent collaborator on the album: DJ Taye.
Chicago's EQ WHY is a veritable footwork don in every sense of the word. He has appeared on pretty much any label worth mentioning across the genre, and he's back with the second instalment of New Track City for the ever-impressive Good Street. Not only is the label a powerhouse in the footwork/juke domain, but they also know which artists to recruit in terms of pushing the genre ot its very limits. "Peace Offering" does exactly that, thanks to an off-pace beat and sporadic melodic waves, whereas "S.O.B" gets rid of kick drums altogether, preferring to operate with the help of intricate percussion stutters. "Take A Hit" is a beautifully filtered, almost jazzy wave of snappy beats and 1930's vocals, a blend which has surely never crossed paths until now, and "We Made It" drops some funky-ass bass onto a broken beat pushed forth by evocative rap vocals with a curbside manner. BIG.
We just love the way the Philtrax label come through with almost relentless levels of footwork and juke; to be completely honest with you, there's few labels out there who are producing this quality of work for the Chicago-born subgenre of house. Club Cab makes his/her debut with four charging slices of drum machine funk, kicking off with "Aww Shh", a fun, sample-heavy tune that's reminiscent of DJ Funk's looser material, while the following "Part 2" unleashes a blockade of smashing drums and percussion for the heads. "Whistle 2 U", as you'd expect, lops a whistle sample over grainy, off-kiter drum stabs, and "Work That Flange" goes for a Steve Poindexter approach, recalling his best material for the timeless Muzique imprint. Badass gear.