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DJ Rashad & DJ Manny - "Roll A Tree"

When I really got into the Chicago-bred sound known as footwork, it was via DJ Manny's "All I Do (Is Smoke Trees)," which isn't a groundbreaking sentiment OR track, but the feeling within that somber, hypnotic repetition of a Lil Wayne line over the hyper track had me open. It's been that leftfield combination of hip-hop and electronic music around 160BPM that's had me hooked, and the TEKLIFE collective (of which Manny has been a part of and was blown up by the late DJ Rashad) does it best.

Out now is Afterlife, an official, posthumous release from DJ Rashad featuring a cavalcade of TEKLIFE affiliates collaborating with the prolific producer. The entire project is a footwork lover's wet dream, but there's something about the last track, "Roll A Tree," that brings not only that compilation back home, but brings my appreciation for the sound full circle. First off, it's built around Jill Scott's "A Long Walk," a song that for many was their first introduction to the Philly singer. Instead of doing a full-on remix, they just Manny and Rashad focus on the most TEK-related bit, where she suggests that her and her boo "roll a tree."

Again, there's no ground-breaking aspect about this cut. It's foreplay for beatfreaks; a couple of lines, looped over a funky, 808-booming beat, building up to the climactic "MAYBE WE CAN ROLL A TREE!" That's pretty much it, but instead of trying to dazzle heads with technical prowess or insane studio tricks, these two seem to have crafted a gem off feeling alone. It's a tried and true "TEKLIFE special," and has been on repeat since I discovered it.


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