There's Nothing 'Casual' About Hip Hop Outfit Footwerk
  • FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 2015

  • Posted by: Don Saas

I don't know about the rest of you, but 2015 is turning into one of the best years for hip-hop in a long damn time. Let's recount: Kendrick Lamar dropped his indisputable masterpiece, To Pimp a Butterfly; Action Bronson released the breezy, hedonistic fun of Mr. Wonderful. There was new Chance and new Earl. A$AP Rocky somehow managed to put out one of the dopest traditional hip-hop albums of the 2010s. And there's still a new Kanye record coming out. If you're a hip-hop head, you're in rap heaven. And there's another excellent hip-hop LP coming your way this year, Casual Encounters, by DC hip-hop group Footwerk.

We have the exclusive premiere of the multi-talented hip-hop outfit's debut LP, and for fans of alternative hip-hop, it's a visceral delight. Fusing the group hip-hop vibe of classic hip-hop outfits like Wu-Tang or N.W.A. with the hints of rock-production that made Outkast's Stankonia an easy contender for the best hip-hop album of the aughts, the record plays with an endless supply of genres. There are even bits of R&B on tracks like "Pleasure and Pain." Casual Encounters is an album defined by complementary contrasts and fascinating dichotomies.

Take opening track "Crawling." Some Killer Mike-esque flow is laced over a bass-heavy beat and for thirty seconds, you might be worried that this is just another (technically solid) hip-hop record but then some light synths bleed in and your ears perk. And just as the MC's flow is hitting its most intense, soaring vocals arrive and you realize the tension the track had been building and how expertly the song just obliterated that unease. Casual Encounters is full of moments like this. Just when you think you have a feel for where a track is going, some psychedelic guitars will arrive or the vocal flow will shift in another stunning chameleon-esque maneuver. It's rare for an album to constantly leave you guessing without sacrificing aesthetic cohesion, but Footwerk make it seem effortless at every turn.

Be sure to snag the record when it comes out next week on June 22nd and if you're in the VA area, check out the band's show at the IOTA Club & Cafe in Arlington. You can find more info on the show here.

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