Truancy Volume 219: RP Boo

At his home in Chicago’s South Side, Kavain Space, aka RP Boo, recalls an interview he gave at Unsound 2015. The question was asked, what is the best story ever told about footwork? What moments in the genre’s history will still get mentioned in ten years time? For Space however, it’s not what has been that counts, but what is to come: “I told them, anyone here who wants to know about footwork’s greatest moment – you’re going to have to outlive me first.”

Trademark confidence aside, the DJ, producer and progenitor’s point is that footwork’s story is still being written. It has been nearly eight years since the likes of Planet Mu’s first Bangs and Works compilation brought worldwide attention to the sound, yet its free-wheeling rhythms, rapid-fire sampling and terse synths can still induce that thrilling sense of future shock. “A couple of years back, I closed a night at Tokyo Beat, LA,” he says. “The Creation squad was there, an LA dance group, and they didn’t know a lot of the tracks I was playing. They were able to adapt, but there were moments when people were just standing there – they hadn’t heard anything like it.”

It was at that moment that Space says he accepted the title long given to him by the likes of Rashad and Spinn – the Godfather of footwork: “It was then I knew who I really was, and what I had to do. From that point on, I would be a professor giving lectures, which is good – I always did want to be a teacher.”

Space now travels the globe to deliver his teachings, and footwork’s futuristic appeal has taken him places he never expected. A case in point was this year’s Counterflows Festival in Glasgow, an avant-garde leaning weekender known for its daring, often challenging line-ups. On the Friday evening, Space was joined on stage by saxophonist Seymour Wright and drummer Paul Abbott. The pair delivered an hour of dizzying improv over Space’s djing, pushing footwork’s untamed sound even further into wild territory.

“I never thought I’d be doing something like that,” he says. “The idea came about following a show I did at Café Oto. I told my agent to send some examples of those guys’ work over. He never did. All we could say on the night was, ‘we gonna see how this work out,’ and it worked so well that moving forward on my journey, I’m more open to not planning things, and taking them for what they are.”

For his Truancy Volume, Space has delivered an hour of pure Boo, featuring tracks from across the length of his career. Journey of Bu includes early, unreleased material – “there’s stuff in this mix from the vaults which even people in Chicago don’t know about”– and cuts from his new album, I’ll Tell You What!, due out on Planet Mu. Whereas Legacy and Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints were collections of archived tracks, Space’s third studio LP is comprised of all-new material. With a clean palette and encouragement from label boss Mike Paradinas, he has seized the chance to craft something more intimate, and representative of how things have changed in previous years. To that end, he’s more involved in the sound than ever before, with many tracks featuring his own synth work, such as Back to the Future’s raw, rumbling bass, or Work the Flow’s icy leads. Other cuts, like U-Don’t Know, began life as straight-forward battle tracks which took on far more subtle, evolved qualities, he says.

Of course, releasing another set of bangers on the hard-drive was always an option, so what drove Space down the more strenuous route? It’s at this point he suggests something a little unexpected: “I’m not footwork,” he says. “I may have helped create it, but this record is an expression of who I really am right now, and where I’d like to go. I don’t want to worry about the past – I want people to say, ‘wait a minute, is that RP?!’” He isn’t the only one who’s keen to avoid any pigeonholing: Jlin has previously suggested that labelling her Black Origami LP is reductive. Space, who mentored the producer, agrees. “Jlin is something completely different,” he says, “something which I’d never heard before.”

New sounds inspired by the genre will continue to emerge, he concludes. Rashad’s brief but glorious time on tour gifted footwork to producers worldwide, and Space is pleased by this. “People are building it all over the world, from Europe to Japan, and that means it’ll remain unpredictable for a very long time. That’s the way music is supposed to be.” He continues to work with producers in and outside of his native Chicago, his knowledge, expertise and energy a critical resource for everyone in the scene. As he puts it, “I’m very uncommon.”


Metroid : RP Boo
Under D’Stata: RP Boo
Backrazz: RP Boo
Area 72: RP Boo (Legacy)
The Ultimate: RP Boo (The Ultimate EP)
Flight 1235: RP Boo/DJ Phil/Crossfire (I’ll Tell You What!)
Burn Unit: RP Boo
Rash’Bu: RP Boo & DJ Rashad RX
Flo Control: RP Boo
Bu’Moon: RP Boo (I’ll Tell You What!)
Space Ghost 2: RP Boo
Dump Truck: RP Boo
Havoc Devastation: RP Boo (Legacy)
Knock Out: RP Boo
Bounty: RP Boo (I’ll Tell You What!)
Electric Energy: RP Boo (The Ultimate EP)
We Da’Pebu: RP Boo
Night & Day: RP Boo (Classics Vol 1 EP)
Back From The Future: RP Boo (I’ll Tell You What!)
Let’s Dance Again: RP Boo (Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints)
Red Hot: RP Boo (Legacy)
Steamidity: RP Boo (Legacy)
Sleepy: RP Boo (Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints)
Whip This Bu: RP Boo
Earth Battle Dance: RP Boo (I’ll Tell You What!)

RP Boo: Soundcloud, Resident Advisor, Twitter

Xavier Boucherat

1 thought on “Truancy Volume 219: RP Boo”

  1. He’s an absolute master of music, a living legend. Thank you for providing this mix and interview, both are outstanding.

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