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White Noise: DJ Rashad - I Don't Give A Fuck

Monday, 5 August 2013

DJ Rashad - I Don't Give A Fuck

Label: Hyperdub

I Don’t Give A Fuck isn’t just the name of DJ Rashad’s second EP for Hyperdub, it’s a mission statement. We all know what to expect from footwork by now: those frenetic vocal dissections and epileptic snare rolls make for a nauseous trip shot through with soul; the sound has resulted in some of the most forward-thinking dance music of the last few years. Yet after 40 seconds, the release’s title track lets loose a keening high-frequency synth pattern cast over nihilistic vocal snips – ‘I don’t give a fuck about you… I don’t give a fuck about myself’. Gone are the soft pads, the chopped diva vocals; the prevailing mood here is angst, a bleak paranoia closer to London’s distinctive sound than footwork has ever before ventured. Over the course of this EP, Rashad lets loose a series of brusque, masterful sketches that offer a dissection of juke past and future, making for another thrilling statement from the genre’s most electrifying producer.

Footwork landed in the UK a couple of years back thanks to Planet Mu’s Bangs & Works collection, and Hyperdub’s Kode9 quickly caught the bug – not only in his mixes and productions, but also in his choice of signings to the esteemed label. Chicago veteran DJ Rashad’s first Hyperdub offering, the Rollin’ EP, was some of the best juke to see release this side of the pond, showcasing an authentic cross-pollination of styles as footwork left Chi-town and started rubbing shoulders with the likes of jungle, dubstep and garage.

Brief they may be, but each of Rashad’s new offerings leaves a strong impression in its churning wake. After the titular solo effort, a trio of the genre’s finest make for a series of breathless collaborations. First Rashad recruits regular partner DJ Spinn for the exquisitely programmed Brighter Dayz, where a deconstructed vocal is stripped and treated, woven with barbed precision across a field of warm pads and hollow drum rolls. Later Freshmoon helps Rashad spin out the most surprising of vocal samples in a tongue-in-cheek cross-section of jungle breaks and bright synthwork. While the track in question, Everybody, perhaps lacks the seriousness and power of its sibling tunes, the choice of vocal stands as a clear example of the restlessness and sonic adventurousness that makes each of Rashad's releases such a thrilling surprise.

The EP’s final cut, a collaboration with DJ Manny, is perhaps the straightest juke joint of the lot, yet loses nothing for its traditionalism. Here a Mary J Blige vocal is twisted seductively around a remarkably polished field of shifting synth notes, rattling snares and canned drum rolls. While some of Chicago’s juke practitioners have released in the UK before, particular on the Planet Mu imprint, few have taken to the UK’s sonic lineage as gracefully as DJ Rashad. As a result, with each consecutive release one sees a real ambition to expand and explore the genre’s potential in a new context. It appears that after fifteen years of practice, juke is finally ready to leave Chicago.


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