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Chicago footwork pioneer dies, aged 34

DJ Rashad, one of the pioneers of footwork, died at the weekend in his home city of Chicago. He was 34.

Rashad Harden released several albums over the past few years, most recently 'Double Cup' on Hyperdub. One of the album's best tracks, 'Let It Go' (below), epitomises the footwork sound, which went global a few years ago and made international stars of spinners such as DJ Rashad and pal DJ Spinn. Its blend of loose-limbed, expressive polyrhythmic breakbeats, melancholic synth and a mournful female vocal recall some 90s artcore jungle in one sense, although footwork is undeniably a futurist sound. 

Rashad was reportedly found dead at his apartment in Chicago in the early hours of Saturday morning. The suspected cause of death is a drug overdose, although nothing has been confirmed as yet.

Friends such as DJ Godfather and DJ Spinn confirmed the news on Twitter, and tributes have poured in from many who knew him and his music. Flosstradamus, Jay Electronica, Chance The Rapper — who Rashad toured with recently — and Disclosure were just a few of the acts paying their respects.

Kode9 from Hyperdub said: "I was honoured to release music from Rashad on Hyperdub. I've only known him for around three 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 Mag also sends best wishes to all of Rashad's friends and family. RIP.