The merging of hip-hop and footwork that occurs on the collaborative EP Live From Your Mama’s House should have been just beginning of a new musical paradigm merging vital streams of the Chicago music scene. Instead, it stands as a salute to a fallen hero. The late DJ Rashad was the driving force behind Teklife and a major figure in the Chicago juke/footwork scene; rapper Mic Terror was among the many Chicagoans who came of age at house parties where Rashad’s music was the soundtrack. And in 2013, Terror and Rashad hatched a plan to work on a recording project together. Though work began on a joint recording between Teklife and Terror’s Treated crew, fate flew in the face of their plans, and Rashad’s life was tragically ended by an accidental overdose.
Nevertheless, Treated and Teklife elected to honor Rashad’s memory by finishing the record, and now Live From Your Mama’s House stands as a monument to the possibilities of the footwork sound that was Rashad’s real heartbeat.
Looking back at his early exposure to Rashad’s work, Mic Terror said in a recent interview, “They were like celebrities when we were in junior high. There’d be flyers and you’d always see ‘DJ Rashad, RP Boo, Spinn, Gant-Man.’ And that was like, the juke parties at the time, and we knew them from there.”
With the arrival of the Treated/Teklife EP, then, Terror has come full circle, even if the record arrives as a kind of eulogy.
Some worrisome news from Dada Life’s Olle Cornéer. In a candid post on Dada Life’s website and Facebook, Cornéer has revealed that he has cancer. “The only word I could hear was ‘cancer,’” says Cornéer. “It kept bouncing inside my head and I don’t think I heard what the doctor said for the rest of the visit.”
In the past few months, Cornéer has not been touring as he was diagnosed in September and immediately sought treatment. “It was a Monday. On Wednesday I had surgery (moving fast is important). Since then I’ve been taking blood samples, going through X-rays and talking to doctors. And now I’m in chemotherapy.”
Reading Cornéer’s concerned but resilient words on the subject is reassuring – this has been a particularly heat-wrenching year for the DJ community. We lost both DJ Rashad and Frankie Knuckles unexpectedly, and it’s great to hear that Cornéer has caught it quickly and is doing what’s needed for a full recovery.
In addition to his treatments, Cornéer is still making music, having just finished tracks under his Night Gestalt moniker. He describes the project as the sounds he hears in his head “after the lights go dark at a big show, alone winding down at night,” which will be particularly intriguing to hear considering his recent diagnosis. He is also excited to work on new Dada Life tracks soon, which is great to hear.
Read Cornéer’s full statement here, and watch a clip of Cornéer directing a choir for his experimental New Flesh Network project.
New Flesh Network from Olle Corneer on Vimeo.
On Saturday I found out about DJ Rashad’s death like almost everyone else did — on Twitter. For even the most casual listener of juke or bass music it was an unexpected punch in the gut nobody was braced for. Rashad Hanif Harden, 34, was on top of his game at the time of his reported overdose in Chicago. After toiling for years as an underground DJ/producer in Chicago, he connected with UK-based Hyperdub Records in 2013. The label presented his music to a bass-loving global audience that was developing a taste for the raw, slice-n-dice post-Dance Mania Records sample-based tracks he’d been producing for years. Rashad’s 2013 full-length Double Cup for Hyperdub transitioned him from single slinger to proper album artist. The full-length earned him artistic cachet though his association with Kode9‘s respected imprint and its clique of artists. While Rashad didn’t become a millionaire or anything as far as we know, he was able to climb a few rungs higher on the global DJ ladder. He gigged a lot more internationally and added festival dates to his tour itinerary.
Witnessing the outpouring of love for Rashad on social media — his name was trending on Twitter for almost two full days — was beautiful. So many fellow DJs, artists and fans paid tribute to the man and his musical chops, but I wondered how much of the hyperbole was lip service. Juke is an acquired taste even for even the most diehard house-music fan, and the footwork parties I’ve been to are always relegated to small clubs attended by only a smattering of hardcore fans. How could so many people love the man and the music but not fully support both?
I spoke with Detroit’s DJ Godfather to get some perspective on Rashad’s tragic death. While it was widely reported that Godfather broke the news about Rashad’s passing on Twitter (we got it wrong too), he says he did nothing of the sort. In this exclusive interview conducted on Monday afternoon, Godfather, who knew Rashad for over a decade, released a chunk of his work on his Juke Trax label and was scheduled to headline a party with Rashad and DJ Spinn in Detroit on Saturday, walks us through the timeline of how he learned about Rashad’s passing. He also shares how he met the Chicago phenom and offers some initial thoughts on how he might pay tribute to his late friend.
A statement has been issued regarding the death of Chicago footwork artist DJ Rashad. Here it is in its unedited entirety:
DJ Rashad aka Rashad Hanif Harden, 34-years-old (born in Hammond, IN – October 9, 1979), the Calumet City, IL-based DJ and producer, passed away around 1:30 PM Saturday, April 26, 2014 on Chicago’s Lower West Side. He leaves behind a nine-year-old son, Chad and his parents, mother Gloria Harden, and father, Anthony Harden. The cause of his death has not yet been determined.
Rashad’s father told the Chicago Sun Times on Saturday: “Since he was a kid, he’s been doing this. He knew what he wanted to do, and a lot of us don’t get a chance to make our dream come true.”
His manager, Wes Harden: “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.”
Kode9 from Hyperdub: “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”
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 Chicago 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.