It’s not too often that I think of myself as a person who is behind the curve. However, as my age has progressed it would seem that my fingers have moved further off the pulse of the cutting edge. I’ve done my best over the years to keep up with the ever-changing sound of jungle and drum&bass and I pride myself in doing so. Unfortunately, one of the consequences is that I tend to sleep on other genres outside of the stuff I play out. I’m a nerd, what can I say?
One particular genre that fell into my “overlooked” category up until very recently was juke/footwork. An offshoot of ghetto house, juke/footwork combines sparse kicks and syncopated 808 snares, hats and claps with repetitive looped samples. One interesting thing to note about footwork is that it’s driven by the dancing associated with the music. Much like breakdancing and jacking, footwork is comprised of fast-paced dribbles, kicks and spins in a battle-oriented environment. Some of the best can predict and mimic the nuanced changes in the beats. Getting its start in Chicago and popularized by artists such as RP Boo, Dude ‘n Nem, and DJ Slugo, juke has since taken hold across Europe and the UK. Artists such as Machinedrum, Om Unit and Mark Pritchard have molded it to their own devices and Planet Mu has championed the likes of DJ Rashad, Traxman, and DJ Spinn.
The sound first grabbed my attention when Om Unit, under his Philip D Kick moniker, released the “Footwork Jungle” experiment which reimagined old jungle anthems with a footwork aesthetic. Even then I was quite “late to the party” as it were, but it wasn’t until Fracture and Dawn Day Night’s “Get Busy” dropped in mid-2012 that it finally clicked. Both drum&bass and juke sit in the same tempo range (around 150-170 bpm) and mixing the two together has allowed me to open up my sets to a whole new world of sounds. Just in the last few months I’ve discovered an entirely different realm of music that I have overlooked for the better part of 12 years. The aforementioned producers have also begun to experiment with the sounds ability to be “slow/fast”; that is: simultaneously counted at either 160 bpm or 80 bpm for example. This flexibility has given rise to new edits and new takes on the music. Jungle/drum&bass has always been very open to new sounds and influences and jungle juke is proof that the sound continues to grow as new people try their hand at new styles and sounds.
For those that want to get a bit more acquainted with juke, I highly recommend you check out Chump Change (soundcloud.com/djchumpchange), who I mentioned in last month’s article. He has consistently repped this sound for the last couple of years and is one of the best references locally to the pulse of the footwork scene. It will be interesting to see where the progression and amalgamation of styles and sounds will take this music next. Personally, I’ll admit that I too have begun to dabble a bit with the jungle juke hybrid. I’m sure I’ll catch my fair share of ribbing for jumping on the bandwagon, but I’m enjoying it and discovering new things. Above all, I’m having fun and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Now if I could only get those dance moves down…