DJ Nate

Producer and vocalist DJ Nate is a legendary figure of the Chicago-born footwork style, as well as the city's rap scene, particularly the dance movement known as bopping. Nate's 2010 debut, Da Trak Genious, was the first footwork album to receive international distribution and press coverage, paving the way for the wider recognition of scene pioneers like DJ Rashad and RP Boo, and the genre's worldwide expansion. While Nate's music featured breakneck tempos, brain-pounding bass, and frenetic sample manipulation similar to those artists, there was always something stranger and grittier about his output, and he seemed like an outlier of the scene. Following the album's release, he dedicated more time to producing rap and R&B, and he scored an underground hit with his 2012 single "Gucci Goggles." Following a lengthy hiatus due to health problems, Nate returned in 2019 with his second footwork album, Take Off Mode. Nathan Clark was born and raised in the West Side of Chicago. Initially interested in rap and R&B, he began making footwork tracks and recording videos of dance battles at his high school, inspired by a public access show presented by juke DJ Tha Pope. Eventually Nate's tracks started gaining attention from blogs, and Mike Paradinas, founder of British electronic label Planet Mu, signed Nate (only 20 years old at the time) in 2010, likening the energy of his music to that of jungle and hardcore. Full-length Da Trak Genious appeared later in the year, preceded by the EP Hatas Our Motivation, which featured fan favorite "Ima Burn Him" (eventually included in FACT's Top 100 tracks of the year). Nate also appeared on the label's Bangs & Works, Vol. 1: A Chicago Footwork Compilation. While all of these releases greatly helped contribute to footwork's rising worldwide popularity, Nate drifted away from the scene. Assuming the alternate monikers Bakaman and Flexxbabii, he released the mixtape Flexx Washington in 2012, containing R&B slow jams such as "Rose Petals N Whip Cream" in addition to the celebratory "Gucci Goggles," which became an anthem of Chicago's bop scene. Nate continued releasing mixtapes and freestyles, while occasionally teasing new footwork material. However, an accident due to undiagnosed scoliosis left him paralyzed and hospital-bound at the end of 2016. After recovering and slowly regaining the ability to walk, he began releasing music again. Following a guest appearance on Free for All, the debut from Turkish trap producer Sami Baha (also signed to Planet Mu), Nate released Take Off Mode in 2019. Featuring tracks dating back to 2010, the release picked up where his debut left off, having little in common with footwork's more polished, accessible developments during the previous decade. ~ Paul Simpson

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