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  • Filed under: Review
  • 07/25/2013

DJ Rashad I Don't Give a Fuck

The three years since the release of Planet Mu's influential Bangs & Works Vol.1 compliation have seen a notable increase in the cross-pollination of ideas between Chicago juke and the UK's underground music circuit. On the one hand, numerous UK DJs operating on the fringes of dubstep and house have come to embrace the frenetic simplicity of footwork. Both on record and in clubs, it's now fairly commonplace to find the higher tempos and/or distinctive rapid-fire rhythmic patterns and vocal cuts of juke nestled amongst the more traditionally UK-rooted sounds of garage, grime, and dubstep. In the case of DJ Rashad at least, this influence seems to have been somewhat bidirectional. Having been given a platform across the pond by both Planet Mu's Mike Paradinas and, more recently, Hyperdub boss Steve Goodman (a.k.a Kode9,) Rashad's more recent releases have seen him increasingly absorbing traits from UK dance culture, from sampling distinctly British idioms on last year's album cut "Bakk Off" to experimenting with wonderfully icy jungle workouts for "Let It Go" on Rollin', his Hyperdub debut back in March. This second EP for the label continues that progression—it's undoubtedly still a footwork record, but as his song structures get tighter and his productions cleaner, Rashad seems more at home than ever amongst the broad and forward-thinking bass experiments of the Hyperdub roster.

"I Don't Give a Fuck" itself is a deceptively minimal concoction of hyper-kinetic synth bleeps and booming, single-note sub hits, all spurred on by a playfully nihilistic spoken-word vocal. In a similar manner to Kode9's recent single "Xingfu Lu," it's a track that exists in the space where the best traits of juke and classic dubstep collide; combining imposing sub frequencies with fragile lead elements, the song creates a deceptive sense of stasis despite its undoubtedly fast pace. By contrast, "Brighter Day," which sees Rashad working with longtime collaborator DJ Spinn, is pure energy. The pair combines the classic footwork ingredients of rough, jarring vocal cuts and metallic drum machines with full-blown junglist breaks, creating something that comes across like an updated version of classic low-budget rave music.

The EP's slight low point comes in the shape of Freshmoon collaboration "Everybody," a knowingly absurd combination of mockingly over-dramatized vocals and day-glo synth breakdowns. It's over-the-top presence grates a little with the rest of the tracks, but there's still something likeable about the tune's playful juxtaposition of melodrama and overly amped party music.

"Way I Feel," a joint production with DJ Manny, takes things in the complete opposite direction by combining a soulful female vocal with rhythmically complex synth loops to create the EP's most interesting offering. While the song's tinny beats and heavily chopped samples are still pure juke, there's something about the glacial synth tones and unpredictable hi-hat rhythms that brings to mind the lounge-jazz-meets-drum & bass sound of '90s LTJ Bukem as much it does Chicago. It's yet more evidence that, whilst Rashad's roots remain firmly planted within footwork, he's increasingly displaying outward-looking ambitions—and it's this viewpoint that makes him one of the genre's most important players.

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