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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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Trying to work out who wrote that based on the YouTube uploads is confusing – the ‘Godzilla’ track is credited to DJ Slugo, but you’re frequently mentioned in in the comments, and there is another version of exactly the same song titled ’11-47-99′ and credited to RP Boo.

I always held down a job, so I never knew what was going on in the music industry, because I was always at work. Rashad and DJ Clent were always going back and forth to Detroit , where DJ Godfather is at. Slugo and Godfather had a really great bond. So I gave Slugo the ‘Godzilla’ track to put under his own name, to help boost the label and help out Godfather. The track took off, but I never knew about it – Slugo never gave me the reports on how things were going. All that time, he was taking the credit for it – I found out through two of his buddies, like, “Do you realize your Godzilla track is making a lot of noise in Detroit?”. It was travelling across the waters, I had no idea this was going on, I wasn’t gettin paid any money. Rashad and Clent went there, came back and told me the same thing, and they exposed it. “Slugo didn’t make this! RP made it and we’ve got direct contact to him”.  So Godfather finally found out it was me, but the damage was already done.

That’s a terrible story – does this go on a lot in the community, this kind of theft and appropriation of other people’s music?

Yes. It’s terribly wrong and it took me so long to find out, it’s a big problem for the community. That’s one of the biggest issues facing footwork right now. We are all still doing the parties to support the footwork community, but there’s no one really trustworthy to do events with. I don’t deal with ‘em anymore. The people who really built it are not here any more, they are travelling now, like Spinn and Rashad – of course that’s a good thing!  Around the world now we have people who love what we do, but here in Chicago, we have the same old problems. Why shouldn’t we travel and see all those nice things out there in the world ? The people, like Slugo, who tried to capitalize off us, they do other things now, they do block parties, gone elsewhere. Now they’ve been exposed, if they ever tried to claim they invented footwork, they wouldn’t win against me. Everybody knows now, we know who made this, those people can’t lie anymore.


“DJs would take your mix and put their name to it, change all the titles in the playlist.”


Going back to the genesis of footwork, at what point did the tempo start speeding up to 160 bpm? None of the Dance Mania music is at that tempo.

No, everything was at 145 bpm. The transformation began with dance groups who would dance at functions, to contemporary music, pop. The kids would do dance routines. The icing on the cake became the footwork contests, which emerged out of house, ghetto house music. Everyone started competing. At one point, on the west side of Chicago, DJs would take a regular song pressed on vinyl at 33 rpm and speed it up to 45. At first the dancers might have found that strange, but soon they made it their own brand. Traxman and DJ Clent began pushing the tempo, and that’s how 160 came into being. I wasn’t doing 160 at that time, we still had our people and our groups doing it “old school”, dancing at 145. I had to move the tempos up over time to get them to 160, feeding them. It took 2 or 3 years for everyone to adopt it across Chicago.

I’m interested in how this music makes the physical transition to the party – obviously you guys were strictly playing vinyl for years, so how did you get to test out these crazy new beats?

I would always take my Tascam 4 track, my tape deck to big events. Rashad, Spinn, Clent would be there. I always supplied the four track, so anyone that was there, we could all display our new music like that. We would run the 4 track into the stereo mixer, along with the turntables, and blend accordingly through the channels. And the rest, as they say, is history!

How do you feel now that the world can finally hear this music, on vinyl for the first time and properly credited to you, thanks to the Legacy release?

I’m overwhelmed, I feel like I have so much more to offer, and I’m so thankful. I always say, never burn your bridges and never throw away things that are helpful to you. I’ve always been humble and respectful, and I feel humble. I never close my heart to any type of music, any type of rhythm. My ears are open.

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