Footwork (genre)

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Footwork is a genre of music and street dance that originated in Chicago during the 1990s.[2]

The dance involves fast movement of the feet with accompanying twists and turns, and usually takes place as part of a "battle".[3] The style was popularized outside Chicago by inclusion in the music video for Dude 'n Nem's 2007 single "Watch My Feet".[4]

The music style has evolved from the earlier, rapid rhythms of juke and ghetto house, a change pioneered by R.P. Boo.[3] sub-bass.[5] Tracks also frequently feature heavily syncopated samples from rap, pop, .[6] Footwork also incorporates the club culture cultivated in disco, house and techno. Much like in techno, footwork is about the "aesthetic of anonymity" but its status as an international genre was boosted by artists like the late DJ Rashad. Sampling is a key part of footwork. Most modern footwork draws on funk and soul basslines through their work. One of the clearest examples of this is how many of Teklife footwork giants that are housed under Hyperdub,[7] everyone from the late DJ Rashad to DJ Spinn to DJ Taye. One of the songs on the Move Out EP released in 2016, "Burnin Ya Boa",[8] feels reminiscent of this concept of hypersoul through the twisting and manipulation of a simple and sweet piano lick layered with sub bass and fast-paced syncopated toms. Footwork relates to hypersoul because "Hypersoul continues this tradition but twists it: exposing our so-called authentic human natures as artificial, mannered, simulated." This subversion of this authenticity is often done through the production.

Radio station Afropop Worldwide remarked on the genre and its developments in 2011, saying that:

The style received more global attention after the unexpected death of footwork pioneer DJ Rashad in 2014.[5] Newer footwork artists such as Jlin have helped popularize the style among European audiences.[5][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The 14 drum machines that shaped modern music". September 22, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  2. ^ Sheffield, Hazel (2010-05-27). "Footwork takes competitive dancing to the Chicago streets". The Guardian. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b SAMI YENIGUN and WILLS GLASSPIEGEL (December 6, 2010). "Chicago's Footwork Music And Dance Get A Transatlantic Lift". National Public Radio. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ Raymer, Miles (April 1, 2010). "Music for Feet:The Chicago dance style footwork already has MTV's attention. But footwork music may be too weird for mainstream ears". Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Arnold, Jacob. "Fancy footwork: how Chicago's juke scene found its feet again". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
  6. ^ Cush, Andy. "Jlin's Rust Belt Modernism". Spin. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  7. ^ "Artists - Hyperdub". Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  8. ^ HyperdubRecords (November 21, 2016). "DJ Taye - Burnin Ya Boa feat DJ Manny". Retrieved December 28, 2017 – via YouTube. 
  9. ^ "Midwest Electric: The Story of Chicago House and Detroit Techno". Afropop Worldwide. 2011-06-16. Event occurs at 7:30. Public Radio International. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 
  10. ^ Martin-McCormick, Daniel. "Tracks: Jlin – "Challenge (To Be Continued)"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 3 May 2017.