Footwork pioneer DJ Rashad more than likely didn't know it when he and his homie DJ Spinn built the Teklife crew, but he was truly grooming the future of the footwork scene from the ground up. Since his untimely passing in 2014, the crew has churned out a number of releases that have gained the appreciation of critics and fans worldwide, helping put Spinn, DJ Earl, DJ Paypal, and DJ Manny (among many others) at the forefront of a scene that grew in the city of Chicago and truly took the world by storm.
Next up to bat is DJ Taye, a 23-year-old producer/DJ who's dropping his debut album, Still Trippin', March 2 on Hyperdub Records. In a multifaceted crew like Teklife, each producer brings something different. Taye, who has been producing since the age of 12, brings his actual voice to the mix. While not a secret, this album could be the first time many footwork fans hear Taye spitting on his own tracks. It's all a part of his desire to be as broad as possible on this album, which features everyone from Chuck Inglish (from The Cool Kids) to some live instrumentation and vocals from Fabi Reyna.
We got to speak to Taye about his upcoming Hyperdub debut, bridging the gap between the footwork scene and rap fans, and what he learned from Rashad. You can also check out the premiere of his DJ Paypal-assisted "Bonfire" below.
I was reading that you’ve been working on Still Trippin' for about two years.
Yeah. It really wasn’t supposed to be like that because the computer got stolen in Detroit in the first year, so yeah.
When did you happen upon that title? What does that title mean to you in the representation of this album?
It could just be whatever you want it to be. Still Trippin' is just, it’s the "Still" of it, of still pushing, still trying to cultivate, still trying to… still tripping off of old stuff that happened to anybody who’s still tripping, off of any situation they can’t get off of, of events that affected people, everybody. Not even just me. Not even a drug trip, just life effects, you know?
Word, Word. Now, I didn’t know anything about your past, but you really started rapping and making beats when you were 12 years old.
Yeah. I just downloaded FL Studio and just started going crazy with it, and started writing stuff.
When you got into making footwork, were you still lowkey rapping and making rap tracks on your own?
Yeah, I was kind of just lowkey doing it on my own. Every year I would have a couple rap beats, but there was always more and more footwork. But now, it’s just becoming a fusion thing where I kind of just wanna do both.
Which makes sense when you see guys like Chuck Inglish on your lead single. Do you feel that’s gonna be the bridge between the underground heads who are rocking with footwork and those who might need something to get them into the rest of the scene?
I feel like I could probably be one of the people pushing that bridge for them. I feel like, for the most part, more artists should wanna collaborate with all of us, not even just me. I wanna be able to talk to everybody and make it happen because guys wanna produce with a lot of people, but they just don’t know the people that know how to reach out to everybody and sometimes it’s always like that. So, we should all be able to kind of sit in one middle ground… there should be a middle ground. I kind of want to bridge everybody together like that, bridge everybody in the scene, you know?
How did "Get It Jukin" come about?
Chuck and Mikey Rocks were two people I always wanted to collaborate with. Ever since I had heard "Black Mags" and then… actually, when they did "2K Pennies," I just knew that y’all guys were from around the way or something. I didn’t even know that until I got older. I knew so many people that personally knew them. It was just like "let’s try to make something happen" and DJ Izzo had just called them over to the studio and just made it happen because we were both in L.A.
What was your thought process behind the collaborations on the project outside of the Teklife crew?
These all just happened. Really, after the computer got stolen, I was just trying to make better music and at first, there really wasn’t that many collabs. After that stuff happened, the job was keep trying to create new stuff, just keep trying to create the craziest new stuff that I can at the time.
Talk about the collab with Fabi Reyna on "I Don't Know." Not only was she singing, but she's playing guitar.
That happened at Red Bull Bass Camp at Bonnaroo. When I first got there we introduced ourselves to the whole class, there was maybe like 15, 20 musicians. Everybody is dope. When I got there, I’m just like, I wanna do something new. It’s whatever. I’m making an album. This is the track I just made that I think is new. And they were like, "That’s refreshing." I’m like, word, thanks. Let’s make something else fresh, let’s go. So I was in the studio sitting there, she was [working on] live instrumentation stuff. I heard her in the next studio and she was like, “I've just been like waiting on you," and I’m like, just bring that over here. It was five in the morning. She played some riffs, I played some chords, shit happened.
One of the tracks I’m really loving off of this is "Bonfire" with Paypal. When I first started getting into footwork, that was the type of stuff I was getting into where you could tell there was some dusty sample that you guys freak and turn it into something totally different. Can you break down the approach on a track like that?
Paypal has his crazy demos and sometimes I honestly hear something over it and I’m like, yo, we gotta do something about this. We gotta change this arrangement up. That was just one of those crazy tracks that he came with and I just heard so much other stuff that could go into it. I just had to keep editing on it. That’s kind of how we work. We just keep editing on our demos until they’re just perfectly how we want them.
How many tracks do you think you were working on that could have made it to the album before you got to this 16-song tracklist?
It’s a lot. [Laughs.] I wanna say at least about 80. 60-80 were really pushed to the album. Now, as how many were made in the two-year span, maybe 200.
Damn. [Laughs.] In that 60 to 80 tracks, do you feel like there’s another album’s worth of material ready for you, just from that batch?
Hell yeah, definitely.
In the time that you knew Rashad, were there any pieces of information or advice that he gave you that stuck with you?
Definitely. Rashad taught me a lot. He didn’t have time to teach me about how to make tracks. He taught me a lot about attitude in business, how to carry yourself in this world, the inside business that people really wouldn’t tell you.
Do you feel weird when you see people call you a new young leader in the footwork scene?
Yeah. I mean it feels good but it feels weird. It’s nice and all, but I mean first of all, I’m getting older every day… I’m not gonna be young forever. It’s cool, but in the end, I’m not tryna make headlines and make a statement being this person. I’m just pushing. I’m just pushing and I just want the whole Teklife to just come with me. I want it to just be us.