A melodic take on Chicago juke from a producer schooled in jungle.
Paul Clarke 2011-05-17
A mutation of ghetto house, juke is the soundtrack to footwork competitions in Chicago, where battling dancers perform frenetic displays that resemble – to the untrained eye – moonwalking over hot coals. But for anyone outside the Windy City, exploring the scene was liable to leave you feeling as clueless as if you’d just attempted a footwork dance yourself. There was plenty of footage of dance crews like HaVoC or tracks from producers like Traxman floating around cyberspace if you knew where to look; but many people’s introduction to juke and footwork came when Planet Mu released their Bangs and Works Vol. 1 compilation in late 2010. A sterling introduction to the scene’s main players like DJ Roc and DJ Nate, the collection was still hard work for the uninitiated, with 160bpm rhythms that initially seemed more like free jazz drumming with staplers than any conventional grooves.
Chrissy Murderbot’s Planet Mu debut is a more accessible – if less authentic – entry point, however. Although he’s based in Chicago, Murderbot hasn’t spent his entire life immersed in juke, his background more in producing proto-jungle and dancehall-influenced tracks similar to other Planet Mu artists like Venetian Snares, influences most apparent in the drum’n’bass breaks of New Juke Swing or Nice Lookin Bwoy’s rubbery bassline. He’s also got a sweet tooth for rave and pop. These aren’t new ingredients in juke, but whilst most juke producers slice pop samples into salami slices, Murderbot goes for a more melodic touch with the bright chords of Bussin’ Down or Sweet Thang, where retro-electro squelches make vocalists Johnny Moog and Coool Dundee sound like they’re trapped in some garish kids’ game show.
Not that Women’s Studies is recommended listening for children – the lyrics might not be as outright pornographic as many juke tracks, but Warrior Queen’s contribution to Under Dress should still be kept away from impressionable young minds – particularly if they’re already been corrupted by exposure to Heavy Butt’s vibrating beats. Spoonfuls of sugar might help Murderbot’s version of juke to go down, but Women’s Studies still contains more than enough dirt to drive Mary Poppins insane.