The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


DJ Rashad RIP
The Quietus , April 27th, 2014 05:33

Pioneer of Chicago footwork dies aged 35

Rashad Harden, aka DJ Rashad, one of the pioneers of Chicago footwork, has died aged 35. Following initial reports on Twitter from contemporaries including DJ Godfather and members of Rashad's Teklife collective, the news has now been reported via several local news outlets including Chicago Tribune. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

It's shocking and saddening news. In the last eighteen months Rashad, while involved with the Chicago footwork scene since a young age, had produced the most exciting and innovative music of his career. Footwork - an evolution of ghetto house centred around splintered drum machine rhythms and spliced vocal samples, initially created for competitive dance battles - has gradually been going global, with originators like Rashad and DJ Spinn increasingly touring to take the genre to crowds around the world, and producers outside of Chicago incorporating its influence into their own work. Rashad's more recent music, including last year's astonishing run of releases for Hyperdub taking in the Rollin' and I Don't Give A Fuck EPs and his fantastic Double Cup album, is vibrant testament to that broadening of scope, expanding to absorb influence from jungle and hip-hop while retaining his characteristic fierce focus and cheekily subversive sense of humour.

"My goal is now, that you don't have to footwork or dance," he said in an interview with the Quietus last year around the release of his Rollin' EP. "As long as you get into it and enjoy it, that's cool. You don't have to know certain moves to get down with the music. Just have a good time. That's what I'm trying to have and get across to people. As long as you feel the rhythm and the bass, just vibe with it, you'll be alright. It's for everybody, not just footworkers."

In a statement from Hyperdub, his manager Wes Harden said: "Rashad was a kind soul that left an indelible mark on the music world as the torchbearer of footwork and juke. 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."

The label's founder Kode9 said: "I was honoured to release music from Rashad on Hyperdub. I've only known him for around three 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 a duet with him in a karaoke bar in Tokyo."

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.