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Chicago Footworking Compilation - Bangs & Works

The 25 short sharp hits of Chicago Footwork music compiled on ‘Bangs & Works’ shock and thrill even at a time when music is ubiquitous. A bunch of ghetto kids reconstruct dance music into futuristic cartoon collages. Samples fly thick and fast and most tracks implode within the three minutes mark, exhausted from the sheer level of intensity.

Footworking is a fast, 150 to 160bpm (beats per minute) dance style that has caught on in a small scene in Chicago. Like the original break dance at the roots of Hip Hop, Uprocking, Footworking is a fiercely competitive dance in which you want to trump all opponents with your moves and come out tops. It’s a gang battle thing that has been taking place place in gyms and warehouses in parts of Chicago since 2006 or so.

By all accounts, Footworking is still pretty niche on its hometurf and goes largely unnoticed outside the circle of Footworking contestants. But the people at Planet Mu got in there early and document the beginings of a truly fresh sub-genre of music with this comprehensive compilation.

Watch A Footwork Battle With DJ Rashad On The Decks

UK independent label Planet Mu can lay claim to offer the most comprehensive documentation of the Footworking scene. ‘Bangs & Works’ follows single artist showcase albums by DJ Nate and DJ Roc and an EP by DJ Rashad on the UK indie. Apart from these four releases there are barely two handfuls of 12″ singles and a few local mix CDs out there. Despite Youtube and the globalisation of music, Footworking is up to this point a uniquely local phenomenon. It is such a distinctive style, however, that I’m sure some sanitised Footworking flavours will find their way into the repertoire of the more adventurous minstream Pop and Hip Hop producers within the next six months.

So take a peep at the original artists shaping the style. Bangs & Works features an impressive line up from established Ghetto House names and battle scarred Footworking DJs to genius bedroom producers. RP Boo, is credited with releasing the first Footwoorking track ‘Baby Come On’ in the late 1990’s. DJ Roc, DJ Spinn, Traxman, DJ Clent and DJ Rashad all made their name on the Ghetto House scene. The latest kids on the block are DJ Nate, DJ Diamond, DJ Elmoe, Tha Pope, DJ Killa E, DJ Lil Rome, Yung Tellem and DJ Trouble.

Apart from the tempo, it’s the liberal use of vocal samples culled from TV, film and other music genres peppering the songs on ‘Bangs & Works’ that links these producers’ individual styles. From showtunes to R&B classics or Kung Fu movie dialogue, vocal samples are dropped in rhythmically, often at a different tempo to the beat that runs underneath. It’s the rhythm set by the samples that sucks you in and prompts your moves. Footworking music is built to reach dancers lost in a high speed battle, so everything is a bit larger than life and subtlety would be a waste of time.

If you can’t make much sense of it right now, put it back in the shelf and give it some time. Who knows, in a few years we might look at ‘Bangs & Works’ like we do now at the legendary Streetsounds compilations that documented Electro and breakdance in the early 1980’s.

‘Bangs & Works’ is due to be released on 6th December 2010 on CD, triple vinyl and in digital format by Planet Mu.

Listen To Excerpts From The ‘Bangs & Works’ Compilation