If you aren’t from Chicago, chances are slim you’d ever heard of footwork before Planet Mu introduced it to the world with its Bangs & Works compilations. The hyperspeed strain of ghetto house has a long history, though, dati...
If you aren’t from Chicago, chances are slim you’d ever heard of footwork before Planet Mu introduced it to the world with its Bangs & Works compilations. The hyperspeed strain of ghetto house has a long history, though, dating back to the late 1990s. RP Boo, sometimes Arpebu, is credited as the creator of the first footwork track. Despite the indispensible role he played in the genre’s emergence, Boo has never had a commercial release.
That’s about to change, though – with an LP due out on Planet Mu later this month, Boo is finally going to get his share of the limelight. I spoke to him about the origins of footwork, his process, playing parties, and where he plans to take his sound. –Adam Wray
Adam Wray: Let’s start by talking about the new record, Legacy. This is your first official, commercial release. What does that mean to you?
RP BOO: It was an honour to finally do an album of my own. Doing so much other stuff in between, I’ve just been so far into the love of the music that I thought, “Wait a minute, this is my first album.” And I was really honoured for somebody to give me the chance to do an album. And I’m very proud of it.
AW: Why did you call it Legacy?
RP: It was due to a lot of individuals in the world liking the sound. As the years went I was labeled the Godfather of Footwork, and it was in high demand. I came to the conclusion that if footwork is steady growing in the world, I want them to remember something that’ll live on forever after I’m gone, or if I decide to retire. So, I say a legacy is giving back. A legacy will outlive the person who set the seed to grow. The fans that’s out here, they drive me to do more. I’m gonna leave this for them and just call it Legacy.
AW: If someone thirty, forty years down the road is writing a book about this period of dance music, what would you want them to say about you? How do you want to be remembered?
RP: I want to be remembered as an individual that tried to make a difference and it actually worked. And for someone to talk about that thirty or forty years later, it’ll prove the reason I called it legacy. It’s like Mozart, we still talk about Mozart. We still talk about Michael Jackson. Those are people that set legacies, but they didn’t understand at that moment that a legacy – not too many people can actually live the legacy and understand it. When you understand that you can leave a legacy you become more humble, and that’s what got me a lot of respect. A lot of people still look to me and talk to me and I try to encourage them as much as possible.
AW: Let’s talk about sampling. How do you know when you’ve found a good sample?
RP: You know what, I make it a good sample. It could be something that’s simple. If it fits into how I feel, it never comes out the way I took it, it comes out better. I used to have doubts about my music – now I don’t. I don’t have no doubts. For some reason, whatever expectations I have [about my music], the fans enjoy it more. And as they enjoy it more, they still come back and they analyze it with me and tell me how they feel – “it was a great sample,” “I like how you chopped this up,” or “your music is so authentic,” and that’s what keeps me going.
AW: How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
RP: I want them to feel free. Free and open. You don’t have to footwork. If it can get into your heart and your soul, if you can feel the groove within your body, if it makes you nod your head and say, “Man, that’s incredible,” I got you. My job has been done. It’s to touch what’s in the inner side, and so far, it’s steady working. It still works.
AW: Sometimes you base your tracks on a sample, and sometimes you use your own voice. How do you know when it’s time to use your own voice rather than a