Photo by Ashes57
One of the DJs at the forefront of the fast and furious style of house music known as footwork, DJ Rashad (Rashad Harden) was born in Chicago and raised in the city's suburb of Calumet City. A young fan of Chicago's banging brand of house music known as ghettohouse, Rashad was already making mixtapes when he met the like-minded DJ Spinn in high school. The two would begin DJ'ing around town in 1996, and in 1998 the duo would be featured on a split 12" on the Dance Mania label, although Spinn's side was mislabeled as produced by DJ Thadz. Spinn and Rashad remained a team as ghettohouse evolved into juke, which evolved into footwork, and the two formed the Ghettoteknitianz collective in 2004. Several Ghettoteknitianz-affiliated producers would land tracks on the Planet Mu label's 2010 compilation of footwork tracks, Bangs & Works, Vol. 1. The label also released Rashad's Itz Not Rite EP in 2010, as well as the Ghettoteknitianz 12" EP the following year.
The collective evolved into Teklife around 2011 and expanded globally, encompassing footwork producers from far beyond the Chicago scene. In 2012 Rashad released the compilation Teklife, Vol 1: Welcome to the Chi, with his album Double Cup arriving via Hyperdub a year later (along with EPs Rollin' and I Don't Give a Fuck). Double Cup was a watershed moment for footwork, achieving widespread critical acclaim and marking the genre's further creative development as it grew to encompass elements of jungle and acid techno. Tragically, Rashad was found dead in an apartment on Chicago's South Side in April 2014; he was 34 years old. Hyperdub released Next Life, a Teklife compilation with all profits going to a fund for DJ Rashad's son Chad Harden, in November of 2014, followed by Rashad's 6613 EP in June of 2015.
WHAT THE PRESS HAS SAID ABOUT DJ RASHAD:
"Rashad set himself apart from the scene with an eclectic sense of melody and melancholy...[he] touched people both musically and personally – not just through his output and influence, but through his effervescent energy." - Dazed
"DJ Rashad was at the forefront of footwork and the producer most engaged in remaking the sound as something broader than just the soundtrack to dance battles." - New York Times
“Endlessly prolific, with over 20 official releases in the past decade alone, DJ Rashad was a groundbreaking producer...just hitting the height of his career.” - Noisey
“Rashad brought a level of depth and complexity to Footwork production that pushed the sound to a whole new level, while never losing sight of it’s roots. The amount of feeling and range of emotion that’s packed into his productions cannot be understated.” - Okayfuture
“[DJ Rashad's] ability to dismantle the sound he's lived with for much of his life and reassemble it in a fresh and exciting way is expected as much as it is impressive.” - Pitchfork
“Rashad, like Frankie and Curtis before him, made music that revivified the spirits of the people here in our perpetually broken city of Chicago…He created [what] became the sound of being young and alive in this city. His music had the power to salve, to unite, to take you out of your world and your problems and your heartbreak for a while.” - SPIN
"The style that Rashad pioneered is so liberated from convention, so deeply experimental, that to be a fan is to blaze trails in a dance music landscape that can often feel tepid by comparison." - Thump