To start, footwork is primarily a dance music style that pays homage to Chicago house and hip-hop—but manages to sound unlike either. Much like hip-hop, footwork isn’t just a style of music—it’s a culture that brings together music production, eye-popping dance moves, and a playfully confrontational battle vibe.
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The term “footwork” is often (incorrectly) used interchangeably with “juke,” the style’s closely related cousin. Truth is, the two genres do have a lot in common: both are direct descendants of ghetto house (a rougher, tougher, faster strain of house Chicago that was popularized in the late ‘90s), both run somewhere in the 150-160-BPM range, and, confusingly, both have associated dance styles of the same name. Where footwork and juke music differ is that the former is a bit more frantically paced—slightly more aggressive, and utilizing an abstract, hip-hop-styled approach to production (ie. pitched-down vocals, more sample-focused)—whereas juke is essentially a grittier, dirtier, faster version of house, made more for grinding than gettin’ fancy on the dance floor.
Like pretty much every form of dance music, there is, at the very least, a template for plotting out a general beat for the style. Point Blank has developed a quick lesson on getting the basics down for a juke beat with 808 kicks, which will get enthusiastic Ableton producers on their way, and below Computer Music has assembled a similar tutorial. They’re not explicitly footwork tutorials—but that’s where you get to put your own spin on it.
Miami based, Venezuelan producer Walstep comes with an expanded range of styles and different sounds. His first Optikal Dubs solo release, Existence EP, includes two multi tempo tracks. The release is full of sub bass pressure and soulful vibes. ‘Existence’ brings an intense journey through a particular sound that combines elements from jazz, garage, footwork and dubstep with an ocean of sidechained synth pads. ‘What Goes On’ has a darker vibe, low-end bass style, classic 808’s pulsating beats and a whiplash sounding snare that predominates until the whole arrangement morphs into deep house. Existence EP will blow your senses into new and unexpected areas.
In case you get lost on your way from RP Boo to Chrissy Murderboot, here’s a painstakingly detailed map to guide your journey.
The helpful people at Osaka-based label Booty Tune have drawn up a diagram based on the Tokyo subway map that charts the connections between hundreds of footwork DJs and producers around the world, from Chicago dons like Spinn and Rashad and juke-influenced UK faces like Addison Groove and Ikonika to a plethora of artists, labels and nights from Japan, Poland, Russia and beyond.
Check it out above and head here for the full-resolution version, which you can print out and keep for your next journey into the underground.
A whole ton of unreleased magic resides in this 50+ track mix from the Chicago player.
Ghetto house and juke veteran DJ Clent has launched a new mix series under the ambitious banner, History of Footwork Music.
The first edition comes via Do Androids Dance and compiles a whopping 56 cuts, many of which have never been released before, over 80 minutes. Recorded live on vinyl and Serato, there’s an emphasis on Clent’s own productions alongside material from C-Bit, RP Boo, T-Rell, DJ Spinn and the late Rashad.
Earlier this year Clent released his Hyper Feet EP on Planet Mu, following in the footsteps of RP Boo, Spinn and Traxman by releasing on Mike Paradinas’ footwork-loving label.
01. RP Boo – Below Zero
02. DJ Rashad – Rock Tha Boat
03. DJ Clent – Baby Yeah
04. DJ Rahshad – Beat Them Hoes Down
05. RP Boo – Suicide
06. DJ Spinn – Muthafucka
07. DJ Clent – Footwork
08. DJ Clent – Project Clent
09. RP Boo – Drop Ghost Bang
10. Traxman – AP Joe
11. Traxman – Work Me
12. RP Boo – You Can’t Break Me
13. DJ Clent – DJ Clent DJ Greedy 15 Years Old LOL
14. DJ Clent – 3rd World
15. DJ Spinn – Bout It
16. DJ Clent – Get Buk Lil Hoe
17. DJ T-Rell – Juke Dis Mutha
18. DJ Clent – Tha Tunnel
19. DJ Clent – Beatdown 99
20. DJ Clent – It’s Hot
21. DJ Clent – Low Lyfe
22. DJ Clent – Do Da Shit
23. DJ Clent – Lyke It Raww ft. DJ Rashad
24. DJ T-Rell – Halloween
25. DJ Clent – Can’t Be Free
26. DJ C-Bit – Way Way Out South
27. DJ Rashad – Gimmie Head ft. DJ Clent
28. DJ Spinn – Halloween
29. RP Boo – Battle In The Jungle
30. DJ Clent – Shake-a-Like
31. DJ Rahsad – Livin That Pac Lyfe
32. DJ Clent – Fuck ‘Em Up
33. DJ Clent – Work Out
34. DJ Clent – State Way
35. DJ Rashad – PSR220
36. RP Boo – We Some Pimps
37. DJ Rashad – Gorilla On A Hoe
38. DJ Clent – Get DOwn Low
39. DJ PJ – Under Stress
40. DJ PJ – Work Dat Body
41. DJ Clent – You Dirtty Niggaz
42. DJ PJ – Chase Me
43. DJ Clent – Back Up Off Me
44. RP Boo – Back Up Off Me (Remix)
45. DJ Clent – Hard Work
46. DJ Clent – Back Seat Hoe
47. DJ Clent – Baldhead Scallywag
48. DJ Clent – Dance-A-Thon
49. DJ Clent – Glitch
50. DJ Clent – Imma Runna ft. DJ E-Dub
51. DJ Spinn – Get Buk Wit It
52. DJ Rashad – My Block ft. DJ Puncho
53. DJ Clent – What That Mouth Do
54. DJ Clent – Clent’s CPU
55. DJ Clent – E-Dub Is Back
56. DJ Clent – Hotrod Get Buck