Heavee – WFM (Work For Me)
Teklife Records 2018
On this latest release from footwork collective Teklife, producer Heavee maintains the booming, crisp rhythms the crew have made their calling card. He also manages to nudge the style’s rigid musical framework in evocative new directions.
For those unacquainted, footwork is a contemporary continuation of tech house and ghetto tech, themselves more frenetic and explicit offshoots of techno and house. The style can also be used somewhat interchangeably with the term juke. On first listen, the music can sound chaotic, with manically repeating sample chops and feverishly shifting drum patterns nearly always conducted with a generous helping of shattering sub bass. Though the sound, and output from the Teklife crew, is tied heavily to the city of Chicago, footwork has since been embraced by bass-hungry enclaves around the world. Its most famous exponent was DJ Rashad, whose untimely death at 34 still elicits calls of “R.I.P. Rashad” by members of his crew live and on record. Heavee makes sure to pay homage on “Cloud Ride” with lyric “Shout out to Rashad, ‘cause we couldn’t do it without.”
Opener “WFM” kicks things off with a giddier side to the footwork sound, a more optimistic counterpoint to the dank, drug-stained refrains of such Teklife classics as “Burn that Kush” and “Drank, Kush, Barz.” “It’s Wack,” a collaboration with the aforementioned Rashad dating back to 2013, enters like industrial music by comparison, metallic drums the only musical heartbeat before the continued refrain of the title.
Compared to his Teklife counterparts, WFM reveals Heavee among the most indebted to the EDM undercurrent of footwork, especially given his crafty synth work on this project. As Heavee revealed in a press release for the album, the synth focus came as a result of a renewed musical approach. “Usually in my method of production, synths or sounds come somewhat close to last, likely after I find structure or rhythm,” he shared. “It’s not something I particularly go for first, but this time around they became the building blocks”.
“Cloud Ride” featuring labelmate DJ Phil, is the clear anthem of the set. The chorus sets up plenty of space before the relentlessly chopped call to “Fuck it up” signals high time for dancers to battle it out. “I won’t let you deny my wave,” boasts Heavee on the mic, whose verse leads into a spaced-out series of synth swells that recede like a shoreline before a tsunami of musical intensity.
For a style that can sometimes be known for its intensity more than its nuance, Heavee manages to layer synths in a way that proves there’s still ways to exercise finesse at 160 beats per minute.
“Cloud Ride” by Heavee
By: Brandon Roos – 2018