It is impossible to consider a given release by a footwork artist without confronting the long shadow cast by DJ Rashad’s catalog, particularly his magnum opus, Double Cup. The writing sessions for Double Cup started four years ago in San Francisco, after the producer Taso (Anastasios Ioannis Skalkos III) invited Rashad and DJ Spinn to the Bay Area. Taso appears four times on that album, and though it can be hard to discern an individual footwork producer’s idiosyncrasies, he leaves an indelible mark.
Following the unfortunate, widely felt death of one of, if not the faces of footwork, DJ Rashad in April 2014, the long-burning footwork movement cooled for a moment as its artists figured out how to deal with the loss and continue making the music that bound them together. In Meaghan Garvey’s fascinating history of the genre for the Pitchfork Review, DJ Earl, one of the younger members of Teklife, stated, “I sat down and was like, How do I do this without Rashad?” DJ Spinn, Rashad’s closest collaborator, continued, “I didn’t know what to make a track about after that. ” But in 2015, the genre churned forward once more, from Spinn’s Off That Loud EP to the globetrotting producer DJ Paypal’s promising debut Sold Out.
As usual with Teklife, most of the tracks on Taso's album, New Start, are collaborative efforts with other members of the crew. It's his first release for the Chicago footwork label, and it's a bit of a mixed bag, with inspired moments as well as awkward ones. The best tunes, "New Start" and "AM Track," feature DJ Spinn and the late DJ Rashad, whom the crew continues to memorialize by reinventing his unfinished tracks.