Release Date: Mar 24, 2015
Record label: Planet Mu
Footwork’s breakthrough into wider consciousness, which these pages charted as well as anyone, was set against a crisis of faith in dance music in general and house music in particular. On DJ Rashad’s Just A Taste Vol. 1, Mr P, our editor-in-chief, wrote: “If footwork’s original meaning was established in these underground dance circles in Chicago, then its currency to everyone else now rests somewhat heavily on those too busy rationalizing the noise/music cleavage or politely tracing dance music’s trajectory to actually do any footworking themselves.
Menace is a sensation endemic to footwork, the Chicago-borne genre of heart-racing house music that is predicated on going harder and better than anyone else on the floor. Dark Energy, the first album from Gary, Ind. producer Jlin, hints at this idea of combativeness, bending all matter of percussion, vocal clips and pre-existing ideas about footwork into submission.
It's either convenient or very clever that Jlin's first widely released track was called "Erotic Heat." Eroticism—the libidinal urge, trapped and amplified so that it smoulders—is one of the defining characteristics of her music. The other is darkness, and the two come together in Dark Energy's cover image: a chunk of rock, black and raw and smoking, as if squeezed out of the earth under incredible heat and pressure.This feel is very much Jlin's own. Based not in Chicago but neighbouring Gary, Indiana, she's developed a musical dialect that sets her apart from her footwork peers.
The music associated with Chicago's juke/footwork scene is fast, frenetic, complex, and often highly aggressive, as it is typically intended to soundtrack dance battles. The tracks produced by Jlin, a steel mill worker from nearby Gary, Indiana named Jerrilynn Patton, use footwork as a venue to express frustration, anger, and depression. The screams and horror movie samples ("You don't want to hurt anyone," "But I do, and I'm sorry") on tracks such as "Guantanamo" and "Abnormal Restriction" sound downright evil, and are a far cry from the more hedonistic, drug-glorifying tracks by artists such as DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn.
Footwork lost its best-known proponent when DJ Rashad died last April. He did more than anyone to push and promote the juttering, rapidfire Chicagoan form of dance music, and along with the likes of DJ Manny, RP Boo and DJ Earl, brought soul to the sound. Jlin continues that lineage with a debut album that moves the genre beyond the dancefloor. Unlike artists such as DJ Nate, who chopped up Lil Wayne samples in order to make staccato statements of intent, Jlin uses her own instrumentation.
Drive south from downtown Chicago on Interstate 90, and as the elevated Skyway curves around the edge of Lake Michigan you'll find the vast steelworks of Gary, Indiana. Refineries, docks and factories stretch away to the flat Midwestern horizon, spouting chemical flames and thick clouds of smoke: Blake's dark Satanic mills rebuilt for the demands of the American Century. When I first listened to footwork a few years ago, I was reminded of watching Gary's huge industrial vistas from the comfort of the freeway.
Jlin — Dark Energy (Planet Mu)Footwork may have been born in Chicago, but with worldwide acclaim for the productions of RP Boo and the late, much lamented DJ Rashad, its appeal is no longer confined to the Windy City. DJs and producers across the globe plunder its skittering rhythms and minimal, fast-paced melodies and inject them into their own creations. Whilst not a Chicagoan, Jlin, aka Jerrilynn Patton, is pretty close to footwork’s home city, residing as she does in neighboring Gary, Indiana.