Chicago footwork mastermind DJ Rashad has died. On April 26, DJ Godfather was scheduled to perform with Rashad, along with DJ Spinn, at Detroit's Inhale Art Expo. Earlier that evening, he tweeted that sources had informed him that Rashad had passed earlier in the day from a drug overdose.
According to the official statement released by his label Hyperdub, DJ Rashad, born Rashad Hanif Harden, passed away at 1:30 p.m. on Chicago's Lower West Side. He leaves behind a nine-year-old son, Chad, and his parents, Gloria and Anthony Harden. Results of an autopsy over the weekend proved inconclusive, though it is suspected Rashad died of a drug overdose due to "drugs and drug paraphernalia found near the body," the Chicago police told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Since he was a kid, he’s been doing this," Anthony told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He knew what he wanted to do, and a lot of us don’t get a chance to make our dream come true.”
"Rashad was a kind soul that left an indelible mark on the music world as the torchbearer of footwork and juke," said Wes Harden, Rashad's manager. "Rest assured that all of those close to him will make sure that the legacy lives on for a great man whose life has been cut far too short."
Added Hyperdub owner Kode9: "I was honored to release music from Rashad on Hyperdub. I've only known him for around 3 years, but he had become a good friend and one of my biggest musical influences. He was one of the funniest, most positive people I've ever met and a true innovator. Everyone at the label is devastated by his passing and wish to send our sincere condolences to all his friends and family in Chicago, the Teklife crew and anyone anywhere who was graced by his presence and uplifted by his music. I'll never forget singing duet with him in a karaoke bar in Tokyo."
Musicians, writers, and music fans alike, including DJ Spinn and Chance the Rapper, who toured with DJ Rashad last fall, have been expressing condolences for DJ Rashad on Twitter. For many, the news is especially raw so soon after the death of house legend Frankie Knuckles earlier this month.
A pioneer and integral member of footwork, juke-informed house music characterized by rhythmic complexity and experimental sounds that got its name from the dance style of feet moving at breakneck speed, DJ Rashad released his last LP, "Double Cup," late last year. Earlier this month he dropped the EP "We On 1."
From the official statement:
DJ Rashad was a quintessential figurehead in the evolution from Ghetto House to Chicago Juke to Footwork and one of the artists to have to consistently pushed the evolution of the Footwork genre forward. He was born in Hammond, IN and moved to the deep south suburb of Calumet City, IL soon after. Rashad started out as a dancer (around the time he was in seventh grade) cutting his teeth with some of the most respected dance groups including HouseOMatics, The Phyrm, and Wolf Pac. He quickly thereafter took up DJing with some of his first public gigs around 1992 at spots like his sixth grade high school club Jubilation. He met his longtime ally, DJ Spinn, during homeroom class at Thornwood High School in 1996. They quickly began producing tracks at each others' houses. During this era, they DJ'd parties with the likes of RP Boo, DJ Clent, Gant-Man and others.. His first release to make it to vinyl was the track Child Abuse on Dance Mania (mislabeled as DJ Thadz) in 1998. Following the release of his single Itz Not Rite (Planet Mu) and his inclusion on the Bangs and Works album (Planet Mu) circa late 2010 he was constantly in demand around the world and spent the majority of his time on the road touring the world as a DJ, more often than not in tandem in with his closest, lifelong friend, DJ Spinn. He was involved in many Footwork cliques - including Beatdown House (founded by DJ Clent), the Ghettoteknitianz (with DJ Spinn) and Teklife. As a producer his crowning achievement was the October 2013 release of his album Double Cup on Hyperdub Records featuring collaborations with DJ Spinn, Taso, DJ Phil, Manny, Earl and Addison Groove. His last performance as a DJ was at Vinyl Club in Denver, CO on April 24, 2014. A new EP We On 1 is slated for release today Monday April 28th via a new Houston-based label called Southern Belle. His collaborations Acid Life with Gant-Man and Bombaklot with DJ Earl and DJ Taye are featured on the forthcoming Hyperdub 10th anniversary celebration album Hyperdub 10.1 which will be released May 20th. His music will live on eternally.