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Review: RP Boo’s ‘I’ll Tell You What’ Explores Deep, Moody Footwork Textures

The pioneering producer samples Stevie Wonder and Blondie as he pushes beyond dance music into a unique world of dank, fascinating throb

RP Boo

Wills Glasspiegel

An architect of Chicago footwork in the late Nineties, RP Boo helped create the first wave of that juddering style of dance music with his noir, menacing, skeletal sound. At once harsh and murky, his breakout song “114799” made a slap-chop soufflé of the Godzilla soundtrack, and eventually he would create similar stomp-and-skitter with The Empire Strikes BackLive and Let Die and Shogun Assassin. His third full-length doesn’t have anything as immediate as 2016’s euphoric Lenny Kravitz-sample fricassee “Electric Energy” but instead goes deeper and moodier, a singular statement of dank throb. I’ll Tell You What has the giddy drum patterns RP Boo pioneered, but its feel is more like the fogs of post-dubstep, Midwest and Memphis rap and experimental electronic music. While still rooted in dance, the skipping beats, grinding noise and cavernous rumble of “No Body” or “At War” recalls avant-garde texturists like Philip Jeck or the Bug.

“U-Don’t No” repurposes Stevie Wonder’s 1981 weeper “Lately” into a burbling battle record, with RP Boo and Stevie conversing about his abilities: “You don’t know…” “…a person like me that can hit these works.” Still, the tune remains mellow, brooding and sad. The music of “Bounty” falls away until it’s just a dubby bassline throbbing, then RP Boo raps Blondie’s “One Way or Another” as a dancer’s boast, the music and his voice never rising above a gentle boil. Turning footwork into murmuring bass music, a genre pioneer finds a fascinating new atmosphere.

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