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Life at 160bpm: footwork figurehead RP Boo on Dance Mania, biters and sampling Phil Collins

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  • published
    29 Apr 2013
  • words by
    Mr Beatnick
  • photographed by
    Will Glaspiegel
  • tags
    Dance Mania
    RP Boo
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RP Boo

RP Boo, real name Kavain Space, is one of the most fascinating forces behind the birth and emergence of the current Chicago footwork scene.

His name is an abbreviation of his full title – “Record Player Boo”. Kavain cut his teeth as a member of the House-O-Matics dance crew, and later gravitated towards DJing and eventually, production, inspired by his contemporaries DJ Deeon, DJ Slugo, and the circle of artists who orbited the legendary Dance Mania label. His tracks may sound familiar, even if you’ve never known who actually produced them – the fractured drum patterns, and distinctive use of his own voice to punctuate the rhythms, project a uniquely disorientating and beguiling space between the speakers. This is music built for intense dance battles, music that grew out of a creative environment fraught with fierce competition.

It’s fortunate, and perhaps even miraculous, that a collection of his work, entitled Legacy, is finally seeing the light of day due to the persistence of Mike Paradinas and Planet Mu records. The compilation collates a decade’s worth of Boo beats, and will be the first time his music has been correctly titled, mastered and pressed on vinyl in this way, which should give you some idea of just how murky the waters of the industry are in his hometown. Boo’s tale is simultaneously saddening and inspiring by turns, and contains a valuable lesson for us all – his sheer love of music has powered him through countless pitfalls and challenges, and all these years later, he’s still as energized by footwork music as the day he bought his first drum machine.

 

“Afrika Bambaataa, Prince, The Time…Just about any kind of music can be played as house.”

 

The first time I heard about you – and I think many others found out the same way – was the Dude On 59th Street mixtape. The track “What Have You Done” caught my ear immediately, I’d heard it on a few footwork videos on YouTube, which didn’t have any credits for the music.

I didn’t expect that to go so far. It did way better than expected – I just made the mix, and a guy gave me the actual title of it, cause he knew I worked at 59th Street, he saw me at the parade like, “hey, dude on 59th Street! I know you”. So I decided right there that was my next title. That tape is a mix tape, the track you mention isn’t by me, it’s by DJ Solo – and since you mention it, this is an issue we have right here.  We would make tracks and share them with each other, but only certain DJs would have the means to actually manufacture mixtapes or CDs. DJs would take your mix and put their name to it, change all the titles in the playlist. People buying the CD wouldn’t know who actually made the songs, they would think it was the person whose name was on the cover. That went on for years, so many years that no one really knew who made the tracks in the first place. When Mike Paradinas spoke to me about that tape and asked about ‘What Have You Done’, I complimented the track and told him it was by DJ Solo, and that track made it to the Planet Mu compilation, Bangs And Works Vol 2.

How did you get into DJing in the first place?

I used to listen to the radio, back then certain DJs, like Farley Jackmaster Funk, were often on the radio, I admired the music. And years later, once I understood how it was done, years later I was like, “I wanna be a DJ”. After I got out of high school I started to buy my own equipment. That was just stage one.

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