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Selections: EQ Why

In this series, Selections, we invite DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their Bandcamp collections. This week, footwork veteran EQ Why curates a crash course in the high-speed, hyper-rhythmic sound of Chicago, from pioneering works to deeper cuts and futuristic genre fusions

In this series, Selections, we invite DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their Bandcamp collections. While hearing new music played out by your favourite selectors has been put on hold as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s never been easier, or more important, to support the artists and imprints releasing tracks, albums, EPs and comps in the midst of all the madness. In lieu of opportunities to discover new records on the dancefloor, Selections will give you the chance to nab sounds from the crates of tastemakers, and support the people behind them while you’re at it. Win-win, right?

This week, footwork veteran EQ Why curates a crash course in the high-speed, hyper-rhythmic sound of Chicago. Dipping into his collection, the prolific producer and DJ highlights works from pioneers RP Boo, DJ Rashad and Traxman, along with deeper cuts, futuristic genre fusions, and variations from the Japanese scene. These selections scratch the surface of a vital and ever-evolving sound, which emerged from young Black communities on Chicago’s South and West Sides in the late ‘90s, before evolving into a globally respected scene over the past decade thanks to seminal releases on labels like Teklife, Planet Mu and Hyperdub. 

Born from juke and ghetto house, footwork is the sound of high-energy dance battles and parties, its rapid rhythms mirroring its dancers’ racing feet. It’s a vibe that EQ Why knows inside and out, having been embedded in the scene since the mid-noughties as part of the Bosses of the Circle collective. In the past decade, his production rate has been dizzying, with dozens of EPs released on his own Equalized Records, showcasing an adventurous, experimental take on the classic sound. Collaborations with the likes of Traxman, DJ Elmoe and DJ Roc, and two appearances on Planet Mu’s ‘Bangs & Works, Vol. 2’ compilation (as DJ T-Why) have further solidified his place in the pantheon of footwork, and he is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Check out EQ Why's Selections below. 

‘Teklife Volume 3: The Architek’ [Lit City Trax]

“Unapologetic and smooth with lots of street flavour! This is my personal favourite album from Traxman. Technical and evenly spread out with upbeat rhythms and nothing overly polished! This album is a true staple to footwork and what it represents sonically. I recommend this album if you're a true listener.”  

DJ Clent
‘Rebirth of Project Clent’ [Self-released]

“This mixtape takes me back to a pure time when footwork wasn't the main attraction. The dance groups and the battles at house parties too. Certain tapes you just had to have and this was one of them. This one may have been red, if I'm not mistaken. Real South Side flavour and also a staple of its time.” 

RP Boo
‘Legacy’ ’ [Planet Mu]

“14 tracks for exactly what it is: FOOTWORK. Another personal favourite for me. These can be played at any battle and will win it over with proper handling. My fave from this album is track six, ‘The Opponent’: a true testament to the origins of footwork, the original sound.” 

Om Unit
‘Joyspark’ [Self-released]

“It comes straight on with synths and mixed acid, then it settles in with a kick on the down beat and you can ride it right out. [This track] has a real trap-work vibe to it as well. If footwork can catch this on a swing with something that complements the soft area — like a soul sample — this just might work very well! I personally like tracks like this, and the hats sit right in place.”  

Sun People
‘The Walls’ EP [Defrostatica Records]

“This has got a real ‘feel-good vibe’. Like you're at a party and the energy is good but not real hard. That's what I like on the dancefloor, personally. ‘The Walls (Anna Morgan Remix)’ could fit in most of my sets if I really wanted it to hold a Midwest vibe!” 

‘They Say Dey Run Da South’ [SHINKARON]

“Another diamond in the rough, DJ MC always delivers. His swingman-style showmanship remains true to its roots. For the battle or the listener this project is an easy charmer. ‘They Say Dey Run Da South’ is a street battle anthem for footworkers. MC is another artist to keep an eye on!” 

DJ Rashad
‘Double Cup’ [Hyperdub]

“Prime DJ Rashad here! Straight heat and still has the Chicago flavour on it to this day. I was around when this dropped and no record has come close to its energy. If I had to pick from a list of DJ Rashad albums to introduce to someone, this is probably the one. This is footwork at its purest.” 

DJ T-Rell
‘Welcome 2 My World’ [Self-released]

“Another Chicago legend in the game, DJ T-Rell. He can keep a perfect balance between juke and footwork in his tracks. My favourite track from this album, ‘My House’, is a real Chicago street sound that gets any party going.” 

DJ Fulltono
‘My Mind Beats Vol.2’ [Booty Tune]

“I'm a big fan of what DJ Fulltono has done with the footwork sound in Japan: being original and respecting the history. I really enjoy many of Booty Tune’s projects. My favourite tracks from this album, ‘The Plot Thickens’ and ‘Freaky Fall’, have a bit of Chicago West Side flavour to them and it works!”  

DJ Kese
‘Let's Work’ EP [Self-released]

“My favourite track from this project is ‘ClownHouse Sounds’. It has a good balance of juke and footwork and it's also original. It’s still four-to-the-floor, and swings later down in the mix. This is a good collaboration as well, with a few features from his daughter, Lil Keesha.”