Ace In The Circle

Some music just turns you into a puppet, making it impossible not to dance. You could be exhausted and covered in sweat and the beats just carry your lifeless ass against your will. Ace-up and Blare’s new tunes are kinda like that. Whether you’re tryna dance in a crowd or jump in the circle, their new EP crosses those borders. Blending the warp speed tempos, relentless kicks, and deep snares of Chicago juke and footwork with bouncy Japanese rap, they get you hype beyond your means and you will thank them for it.

Like most underground or regional scenes that gain international recognition, you can find an outpost in Japan for footwork (just like grime). It’s a small scene that’s around a decade old with maybe thirty competitive dancers and twenty producers. The music was born in Southside Chicago by Black producers, dancers, and crowds. Juke came first in the 90s with a party mentality driven by 4/4 kicks and big ass kick drums. Footwork came after in the early 2000s refocused on the battle circuit with more techie sounds and intricate drum patterns. Around 2010 the rest of the US and the world finally started to catch on, including Japan.

Ace-up is the founder of Shinkaron records. He started it as a footwork party and it quickly expanded into a boutique label by 2012. They mainly drop Japanese trax but often work with Chicago artist like YB, Weezy The Era, and DJ Roc. Recently, a lot of the releases are by Ace himself, who says this is cuz he’s learned to produce more quickly, but also that he “wants to release as many tracks as possible before I die.”

For his latest EP, he invited emcee Blare to join him. She’s stepped away from the stage for a while and hasn’t released much music lately, but felt inspired to join Ace on this release. “I was having trouble writing, it didn’t feel honest,” she says. “But Ace’s music really motivated me this time.” She raps over “Let Me Bang” with a bouncy flow while Ace chops up samples of her vox. Her chopped up voice is present on the rest of the project as well.

To top it all off, they got the OG himself, DJ Deeon, to remix the title track. “I was obviously inspired by his track of the same name, so when he agreed to to the remix I was really excited and surprised,” Ace gushes. Deeon even splices in his original track into the mix, which amps up the energy with massive drums and lots of half-time switch ups.

Ace is still keeping his ear to the floor like always. Recently he’s been working with local dancers like Miki Ishizaka and gives a shout to Lil G, Youta, Yuske, Ryo, and Moka as dancers on the come up to look out for. He says DJs like April and Oyubi are keeping it moving too. And a good party there is the Open Footwork Circle by Creation Japan. If you’re ever in town, be sure to look them up.