- Over his three years in the spotlight, footwork ambassador DJ Rashad has carefully developed his sound from a strictly Chicago niche into an international force in its own right. Take the opening track of Double Cup, "Feelin"—produced with fellow Teklife members Spinn and Taso, it's a subdued update of the opener from Rashad's last album. The jackhammer basslines have been smoothed out into a soulful arc, and the vocal samples are well considered, no longer the roughly-hewn edges that defined the original Bangs & Works compilations. Double Cup—coming out of London (via Hyperdub) rather than Chicago—boils Rashad's music into a thick stew full of bits of other genres. It's a transformation, not a makeover.
With only two tracks that don't have guest artists, it's also impressive that Double Cup isn't a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. That's because Rashad knows his collaborators well, and they complement his sound instead of drowning it. The album's opening rush of Spinn and Taso-assisted tracks is a treat, each classic-styled but with more elegance and caution than before. Touched with the trilling hi-hats of trap ("Double Cup," "Reggie"), there's a cross-genre slinkiness to these songs that was largely missing in the straight-ahead forms of old. He teams up with Addison Groove for the storming "Acid Bit," which is so kinetic it overpowers its own squelchy gimmickry. DJ Earl helps him close out the album with a blaze of jungle breaks that may be surprising, but not the least bit out of place.
Rashad's two solo tracks offer a glimpse into the mind that's captivated everyone from Kode9 to Mark Pritchard, and like his two solo EPs this year, they offer up another level of synthesis and casual experimentation. The previously-released "I Don't Give A Fuck" is a breathtaking exploration of zero gravity sonics, suspending footwork's indelible bassline attack in thin air for a true heart-in-mouth effect. Meanwhile, "Reggie" puts a square peg of a Robert Owens sample into a round hole of trap drums and rap snippets for a busy blur held together by percussive programming that seems like it's set on random.
Straight-up footwork pleasures exist on Double Cup as well. "Drank, Kush, Barz," though one of the more unassuming tracks on the record, becomes a centrepiece by virtue of its simplicity. It feels like with years of practice and experimentation behind them, the Teklife crew has figured out the pure distillation of the sound they've been working on since the early days. A much more concise statement than last year's Welcome To The Chi, Double Cup is an exciting portrait of a maverick artist with complete creative freedom, and the skills to hold it all together.
01. Rashad feat. Spinn & Taso - Feelin
02. Spinn & Rashad - Show U How
03. Rashad feat. Spinn & Taso - Pass That Shit
04. Rashad feat. Spinn & Taso - She A Go
05. Rashad feat. Spinn & Taso - Only One
06. Rashad & DJ Phil - Everyday Of My Life
07. Rashad - I Don't Give A Fuck
08. Rashad feat. Spinn - Double Cup
09. Rashad feat. Spinn - Drank, Kush, Barz
10. Rashad - Reggie
11. Rashad & Addison Groove - Acid Bit
12. Rashad & Manny - Leavin
13. Rashad feat. Spinn - Let U No
14. Rashad feat. Earl - I'm Too Hi