OBIT: Remembering Chicago Footwork Pioneer DJ Rashad

Photo by Allen Daniels

I met DJ Rashad for the first time in the basement of my house in Chicago. In town just before Christmas after getting off tour with Chance The Rapper and crew, Rashad had stopped through our welcome home/holiday party.

Having followed the tour across several Midwest stops, I had been around Rashad quite a bit and gotten to know him through stories from Peter CottonTale, Allen Daniels and Chance. It was clear he and cohort Spinn were the elder statesmen on Chano’s months-long Social Experiment Tour, and his influence on the young artist and those around him was evident throughout.

It doesn’t need to be said that Rashad’s passing this weekend was a true tragedy. Today was the scheduled release date for his latest project, We On 1, which has been met with rave reviews and was projected to vault him to the next level of the DJ game, sending him out on worldwide tour dates. However, the 34-year-old producer was found unresponsive in his southwest side apartment on Saturday and was pronounced dead soon after of an apparent drug overdose, leaving a void in a local scene that has experienced several lately.

Having laid the foundation for which many footworkers made blurs of their sneakers, Rashad had just wrapped up one of his most successful calendars to date, performing at last year’s Pitchfork Festival in his hometown and finding his way onto many year-end lists for his Hyperdub Records release, Double Cup.

They say deaths come in threes, and nowhere is that more evident than in Chicago, which lost two of its most prized dance music artists in the span of several weeks. Rashad’s passing comes on the heels of vaunted house legend Frankie Knuckle’s death on March 31. While each will be dearly missed, both of their legacies live on through the next generation of artists from their stomping grounds who continue to play on the aesthetics both artists established while alive. Chance, who had grown close with Rashad over the past year tweeted Saturday: ““Music lost a legend today. And he was my friend. Love you DJ Rashad. RIP.”

To best remember the Chicago legend, we’ve selected the following three songs that helped grow Rashad’s career, an introduction for those unfamiliar with his work and dedication to long-time fans.

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