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Footwork Pioneer DJ Rashad Dies, Age 34, Of Suspected Drug Overdose

By Jon Graef in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 27, 2014 4:30PM

Mere weeks after the passing of Chicago house music legend Frankie Knuckles does the city, and the world music community at large, mourn the loss of another musical pioneer: DJ Rashad.

Rashad, born Rashad Harden, who is credited for pioneering the dance music style known as footwork, was found dead in his Calumet City home Saturday afternoon, according to the Sun-Times.

He was 34 years old, and survived by a 9-year-old son. DJ Rashad was scheduled to perform with DJ Godfather, who, according to Pitchfork, tweeted the news of Rashad's death.

DJ Spinn, who collaborated with Rashad on last year's breakthrough, the critically-acclaimed album Double Cup, also tweeted the news.

While news of this sort would be sad under any circumstance, what makes Rashad's death especially sad is that "narcotics and drug paraphernalia" were reportedly found near the footwork DJ's body, according to what police told the Chicago Tribune.

An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday.

Rashad performed last year at the Pitchfork Music Festival, and was scheduled to perform again this year. Rashad recently opened up for fellow Chicagoan Chance The Rapper on a recent tour, and will release a new EP, We On 1, next week.

Here's what the Sun-Times said about Rashad's place in electronic music.

Rashad 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 for its 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 Sides and has long since crossed over to clubs and rock festivals.

According to Pitchfork, an official statement will be released on Monday. In the meantime, listen to Double Cup, Rashad's fifth album, and be sure to also seek out the Bangs & Works footwork compilations from Planet Mu, on which Rashad's work appears.

Although this writer is a recent convert to DJ Rashad's work, any listener who hears the joyously serpentine mix of different rhythms and melodies that comprises Rashad's music is instantly hooked, no matter when they happen to come on board. Rashad's work was a deliriously happy sonic puzzle that was meant solved over and over again, and, more importantly, danced to.

Double Cup represented Rashad's work at its absolute pinnacle, and was the sound of a master truly honing his craft. Rashad will be sorely, sorely missed.

Here's Double Cup in full: