RP Boo: Legacy
One wonders if RP Boo (aka Kavain Space) will come to regard the Footwork label as a label he'd prefer to distance himself from—if he doesn't feel that way already. Such labels become straitjackets for an evolving artist, and RP Boo's debut album Legacy, which arrives after more than fifteen years of producing, already suggests that the label doesn't quite do justice to his music-making. Preceded by influential tracks like 1997's self-released “Baby Come On” and 1999's “11-47-99” (aka “The Godzilla Track”), the album's fourteen tracks contain more than their share of syncopated drum fury emblematic of the Footwork style, but they also extend dramatically into boundary-pushing experimentalism, too.
A strong scene-setter, “Steamidity” opens arrestingly with a barrage of stabbing string figures and chattering drum machine beats but then moves to an even higher level when a heady swirl of vocal samples surfaces. In its frenetic interlacing of voice fragments (“invisible,” “I gotta get a,” “yes”), the second cut “Invisibu Boogie!” pushes the idea to an even further extreme, and the way Space uses counterpoint to arrange the elements into a rhythmic design makes for a listening experience that's as dizzying as it is incredible.
Though they're anything but static, old-school drum beats act as the music's foundation, a stabilizing center that allows the accompanying elements to move freely (interestingly, the machine the West Chicago-born Space learned to produce on was a display model of the Roland R-70, and it's still the one he uses today). Recognizable elements surface now and then: one of Bernard Herrmann's Psycho themes forms a clear contrast to the sped-up vocals somersaulting through “There U'Go Boi,” and Ronald Lee Ermey (best-known for his performance as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket) can be heard braying “Minister of death, praying for war” throughout “Havoc Devastation.”
Strange as it might sound, Space is somewhat of a minimalist given that a typical RP Boo track is assembled from a modest number of elements—but it's what he does with them that dazzles. Take “Speakers R-4 (Sounds)” as a representative example: over a basic bubbly pulse, Space weaves a handful of phrases—“that's what the speakers are for,” “what they do,” and “bang,” for starters—into an hypnotic array that's totally head-turning, especially when the voice samples are looped so boldly. It's an assessment, incidentally, one could legitimately extend to the hour-long collection as a whole.