‘Da Trak Genious’ is Planet Mu’s compilation of the Footwork tracks of DJ Nate, born Nathan Clark, a 20 year old artist who grew up in the westside of Chicago. He started making Footwork tracks 5 years ago, more recently turning his hand to Hip hop and R’n’B, and the album is an archive compilation of his productions.
This is Nate’s first ever worldwide album release. It’s essentially a selection of tracks that have come out on small edition cdrs and tracks posted on youtube and imeem. This is how Planet Mu first heard his music, which has gathered a small but enthusiastic band of followers and fans who have been itching to hear more from Nate and know more about the genre.
Footwork tracks are instrumental tracks made for Footwurking, or Jukin’; a dance style that’s local to Chicago that kids use to let off steam in group competitions with each other. It’s a distant relative of the competitive hip hop style of up-rocking but with frantic foot moves that have their roots in Jazz dancing.
The Footwork sound has its roots in Chicago House especially the accelerated ‘Ghetto’ house, and the influence and speed of the pioneering Ghetto house label ‘Dance Mania’ is clear: the tough sentiments and hip hop influence is all there, but the fast linear hypnotic 4×4 sound of those records has been re-calibrated and given an ultra-syncopated treatment to test dancers, the samples and repeated lines are pitch adjusted up and down giving the music a strange hypnotic feel.
These tracks have a unique drama and a pressure that is unique to Footwork but reminiscent of the edited drum syncopation of jungle and also hip hop cutting in DJ battles.
DJ Nate uses the basic palette of samples from pop and hip hop, pitched, layered and triggered into unusual edits, often edging into distortion, usually with a simple repeated phrase like ‘hatas our motivation’ used to pump up the dancers. This hypnotizing effect, combined with sparse 808 drum patterns, often with busy fills, relentless triplets and off-kilter accents, is used to create very different variations within his sound.
Tracks like ‘Back Up Kid’ and ‘You’re Gonna Love Me’ work with modern r’n’b samples, while others like ‘Footwurk Homicide’ and ‘Fade Da Black Trak’ seem to echo their contemporary British sound of Grime. ‘Go Hard’, ‘Let The Beat Build’ and ‘Free’ reach back to earlier soul music, crossing half-time drums with slow, looped soul licks, while ‘A+ Mayhem’ pitch up or chipmunk emo tracks to hysterical effect. The mood, skill and ADD emotion across the album is difficult to get into first but after some listens the character and voice of DJ Nate’s unique productions comes across.