Through the tiny window of the internet, I could barely see him. I only knew Rashad as far as the music he uploaded and the interviews he recorded. When I heard the news of his death, I didn’t have anybody to text about it. I wanted to, but I also knew that if it was true, the world would already be wailing. I went to my window.
Reluctantly scanning Twitter and SoundCloud for confirmation, there were thousands of fans sharing this blue, sinking feeling. Most fans were too stunned to post any sounds all day. A global network of producers, DJs and blogs stopped to close their eyes, nod and be silent. But why? Did we know the man?
Maybe we didn’t know Rashad, but we knew the DJ and the fact remains: DJ Rashad can’t give us music anymore. I think he’d be heartbroken about that, too.
He was a freight train of innovative rhythms, driven by what seemed like a desire to ignite South Side Chicago with a new, fun movement to call their own. His heart shone through in his knack for soulful vocal samples, splicing them like lightning bolts into the turbid, violent corridors he recreated with cracking snares.
As part of a movement, DJ Rashad spent ten years pushing footwork to a place where the world was able to hear it, tweaking his sound to fruition, heeding direct feedback from the footwork dancers in front of him, their feet and elbows tethered to the claps of those tailor-made footworking records.
“We were dancers, first.”
– Rashad & Spinn
From an interview released after his passing, I learned that Rashad and DJ Spinn met when they were kids. Suddenly, I remembered their motto.
I remembered DJ Earl, DJ Manny, RP Boo, DJ Gant-Man and Traxman. I remembered Teklife is a team effort, because that’s how Rashad presented it to me, lifting the logo to his chest, placing “Teklife” on the pedestal instead of himself.
DJ Rashad illuminated the realm of footwork with just enough heart to make the world pay attention. Ten years in the making, the world fell in love. I can only imagine the elation Rashad must have felt when he first realized Teklife was being embraced on a global scale. When we knew what he found.
Rest in peace, the inimitable DJ Rashad.