DJ Nate - Take Off

  • The Chicago producer makes an unlikely comeback on Planet Mu.
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  • DJ Nate is known in dance music circles for footwork, but he didn't come from that world. In the late '00s, the Chicago artist's profile rose with chipmunk-soul ear worms like "Lil Mama Bad As Hell," which inspired a crop of homemade choreography videos uploaded to YouTube. There was "Bedroom Victory," a slow jam that was heard on the battle floor as dancers showed off their moves to competitors. "What A Night" currently has over 1.6 million YouTube views. Producing footwork seemed to be just another experiment for the precocious hitmaker. It ended up getting him signed. Planet Mu released an EP and an album, Da Trak Genious, by the artist in 2010, after finding his tracks through a blog post. Some critics were irritated that the label was supporting a kid without clear ties to the footwork scene. But that may have been what made DJ Nate's early records so compelling. Sonically, Take Off Mode is not as ambitious as Da Trak Genious. This time, DJ Nate constructed the album from forgotten files and sporadic YouTube releases over the years. He has been less prolific in the last ten years, and for good reason. He was in an accident over two years ago that left him paralyzed from the waist down, followed by a rehabilitation period where he learnt how to walk again. He's never stopped releasing music, but there hasn't been much for footwork fans to enjoy—most of DJ Nate's tracks have foregrounded his singing or rapping. But Take Off Mode's melody-heavy tracks are recognisable DJ Nate hallmarks, no matter the genre. Take "La Happy Day." He warps a vocal—a singer going up the scale—over stuttering percussion, calibrating the tempo and pitch of a single syllable, "la." The result is humorous and ecstatic, reaching new heights as the song ends on a sample of the gospel classic "Oh Happy Day." "Come Back" isolates a single line, asking, "Will you come back to me?" It's a simple request over a hot beat, the kind of track that could make someone dance and cry in the club. The sample of Casha's "Angel" on "Aww Baby What U Waitn" is sweet on the ears, and fits DJ Nate's penchant for sentimental R&B. There are several battle tracks here, sufficiently aggressive to elicit a face-off on the dance floor. "You Ain't Ready To Battle" has it right in the title. "Bring Your Best Crack" sweetens spitfire declarations to bring your best with melismatic vocal snippets. But among these standouts, many of the other tracks lack the chaotic charisma key to the DJ Nate sound. His apparent abandonment of footwork in recent years could be at the heart of the LP's uneven quality. But changing one's style doesn't mean losing the soul of the sound. Just a couple weeks before the album's release, he tweeted: "I make Party n feel gud music… From Rap, R&B to Juke... Ain't no tellin how ima come...It's all gon sound like me tho." Even if he never makes a footwork track again, he's sure to find new sounds that will keep people listening and dancing.
  • Tracklist
      01. Bring Your Best Crack 02. You Ain't Ready To Battle 03. Come Back 04. Oh Woooaaah 05. Get Rid Of Em 06. Fuck Dat 07. Wat U Wont 2 Do 08. Go Krazy 09. Get Back 10. Get It Right Hoe 11. Just Be Truu 12. Pack Em 13. Aww Baby What U Waitn 14. Talk 2 Me 15. Planet Mu 16. Get Off Me (Betta Get Back) 17. La Happy Day