Boomkat Product Review:
Footwork mainstay DJ Manny steps out from the shadows with this towering and incredibly unique cross-section of Midwestern dance styles and luv'd up R&B. Imagine a potent concoction of DJ Rashad, Carl Craig, LTJ Bukem, Janet Jackson, Timbaland, The Other People Place and Frankie Knuckles, and you'll have an idea what "Signals in My Head" is giving.
Maybe the most ambitious footwork full-length we've heard since DJ Rashad's game-changing 2013 tome "Double Cup", Manny's first proper set since the Teklife-released "Greenlight" is a celebration of the evolution of Black American dance music. He's still young, but Manny is no newcomer having gone from dancing to party promoting and then production. And when he finally released his debut "Kush On Deck" in 2010 with DJ Rashad's assistance, he'd already been on the scene for a decade.
With "Signals in My Head", Manny wanted to attempt something that hadn't been done before and bless the genre with romance. This sentiment gushes from opener 'Never Was Ah Hoe', that loops joyful, euphoric vocals over dilated footwork kick flurries and clattering breaks. When it liquifies into halftime, the production sounds closer to something you might hear on a Kehlani album, all muted sensuality and tuff, sparse neo-soul percussion. 'U Want It' is an even clearer statement, interpolating the chorus from Ginuwine's enduring sex jam 'Pony' and blessing it with dreamy Detroit synths and playful, stuttering drums.
It's at this point where the album artfully switches gear with 'You All I Need' and 'Club GTA', suddenly dipping into the pure ecstasy of Carl Craig's "Landcruising" or "More Songs About Food And Revolutionary Art". 'Good Love' and 'Signals In My Head' meanwhile retain the MDMA glow while injecting a hearty dose of influence from LTJ Bukem and his peers' rugged-but-emotional liquid D&B shuffle.
'Signals In My Head' is a progressive, motivated album from an artist who has been active in footwork for two decades. Now he rises above the confines of the genre to sit alongside fellow scene-agnostic Black club innovators like AceMo, MoMA Ready and Kush Jones, while paying tribute to the storied history of Midwestern club and American R&B. Breathless from beginning to end.