- DJ Nate is not a DJ. That being said, I'm not sure what he is; appropriately or not, he's become somewhat of a poster boy for the outside world's conception of "footwurk." A mutant strain of jittery dance music emerging out of Chicago's idiosyncratic juke scene, it often involves jerky rhythms, extreme repetition and BPMs that sometimes eclipse even the fastest drum & bass. London label Planet Mu has begun its quest to export juke and footwurk to the UK with young Nate, but how representative he is of the larger scene is questionable.
Nate made his name in part on YouTube, and the tracks on his debut EP don't sound much better than your average video stream. Dodgy sourcing issues aside, the lo-fi quality lends the music an uneasy, almost otherworldly presence, like snippets of forbidden pirate radio transmissions. Unfortunately, Nate's production is just as amateurish in structure as it is in fidelity; lacking the minute rhythmic intricacies of fellow producers (and Mu labelmates) Rashad and Roc, his music feels painfully obvious, a simplistic racket of one-dimensional drums and annoying vocals. One might find transcendence or even catharsis in this sort of primitive thrash, but oftentimes it feels like more like unripe fruit than hidden treasures.
There are times when it works: "Hatas Our Motivation" is a trippy thicketed forest of vocal samples and the extreme sonics of "Make Em Run" actually manage to evoke a sense of formidable foreboding. But it's more often almost unbearable, like the bizarrely-paced caterwauling of the closer "See Into My Eyes." As evidenced by the forthcoming LP Da Trak Genious, Nate is capable of much better: The album has tighter compositions, meatier beats and tracks that don't all sound like they were ripped off of a flash stream. Perhaps it's a purely contextual music; as framed in Mu boss Mike Paradinas' excellent Footwork mix, they make much more sense, only sounding complete when layered with other tracks.
A1 Hatas Our Motivation
A2 Ima Burn Him
A3 Make Em Run
B1 We Can Work This Out
B2 Back Down
B3 See Into My Eyes