Cornelius Ferguson a.k.a. Traxman is from the west side of Chicago and one of the longest serving producers working in footwork with releases stretching back to the glory days of ghetto house on Dance Mania records in the nineties. He’s also one of the co-founders of Chicago’s two-decades-old Geto DJz clique and a member of DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn’s Ghetto Teknitianz and was one of the creators of the legendary mixtapes on coloured cassettes which were the prototype for footwork’s evolution. His unique brand of footwork is very strongly rooted in Chicago’s history of soul, funk, house and ghetto trax; he’s a veteran and renowned crate digger who has provided the sample sources for many of footwork’s classic tracks over the years. His deep knowledge of music (check the mixes he occasionally throws up on the net) makes him one of the city’s most versatile and skilled DJs and producers.
Traxman’s own productions are an incredibly well rounded suture between hip hop’s natural funk and resourceful sample flipping, the hyper-kinetic innovation of footwork’s stop-start, half-time to double-speed drum programming and a deep respect and understanding of Chicago’s house music past, that few producers can match; ‘Da Mind Of Traxman’ is a testament to this man’s skills.
‘Footworking On Air’ starts the album in a relaxed and almost improvised mood with Kalimba melody, 303 acid line and martial drums. Then ‘Itz Crack’ puts strangely edited samples against echoey vocals and off kilter kicks to give the track a really unusual slip and slide feeling. Later, ‘Let There Be Rockkkkk’ takes an unusual sample source to build a track with a totally raucous rock vibe, whilst ‘Rock You’ simultaneously references house music’s roots and a beautiful soul sample. ‘1988’ is a tough 303 acid track with footwork drum patterns; ‘Sound Filed’ again tampers with house music’s early rhythm tracks, bringing them up to date and speed with footwork’s syncopations; while ‘Work Me 2011’ manages to fuse the soulfulness of deep house with the breathtaking energy of ghetto house and rave. Meanwhile, ‘Lady Dro’ makes good with some Mizell Brothers samples and loose congas, wrapping and looping them into a hypnotic vortex, while ‘Setbacks’ works a vocal and piano sample into tinkling abstraction. Traxman’s skills are unmessable, you can tell from the minute the album starts that music is like breathing for him, and that the album also makes an incredible and skillful case for ‘footwork’ as Chicago’s very own sideways evolution through hip hop via house with a rich history of soul.