DJ Rashad, born Rasahd Hardem, a leading producer in Chicago’s footwork scene, dies Saturday afternoon. According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Rashad was found unresponsive by a friend on the city’s West Side at 1:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 34.
The Chicago police suspect a drug overdose, drugs and drug paraphernalia were found near the body. On Sunday, an autopsy proved inconclusive. Toxicology studies are being conducted to determine how he died. Police have confirmed there were no visible signs of injury.
Born Rashad Harden, the producer and DJ was a pioneer of ‘footwork’, an electronic-oriented music genre that originated in Chicago and has been big around the city for more than a decade, named forits lightning-fast dance moves. It marries dreamy synthesizers, bursts of brutally fast beats and R&B samples to classic stepper’s movements and hip-hop dancing. It started out in high school gyms and neighborhood dances on the South side and the West side and has long since crossed over to clubs and rock festivals.
Rashad’s father told the Sun-Times his DJ son was a big part of the local music scene, having started out as a DJ when he was 10-11 years old. “Since he was a kid, he’s been doing this,” Harden said. “He knew what he wanted to do, and a lot of us don’t get a chance to make our dream come true.” Rashad performed throughout high school with dance troupes before turning more to spinning records at parties and for WKKC, the Kennedy-King College radio station, and helping to develop footwork, which centres around dance battles. He was the most prominent member of the Teklife crew.“He shared his music with everyone that would listen,” Rashad’s father said. “He’s been all over the world, taking footwork all over the world. He’s done quite a bit over his short time.”
Rashad’s most recent album Double Cup was released last October by the influential British label Hyperdub, and he has an EP,We On 1, scheduled to come out on vinyl, today, April 28th via Southern Belle Recordings.