Too often music icon’s posthumously become legends; however, in this case, the term is neither exaggerated nor undeserved.
Chicago DJ and producer Rashad Harden is widely regarded as the pioneer of the footwork genre. Often associated with the brilliant Hyperdub Records, he has gifted us with what is probably the greatest body of work in the genre, creating, regularly with his close friend and collaborator DJ Spinn, a kind of dance music that embodied Chicago culture.
His early work between 2004-08 with Spinn on label Juke Trax had naturally progressed from the music they had produced at each other’s houses after school. It had developed around dance battles in the Chicago area and became immediately popular as Rashad and Spinn performed early tracks at parties.
Rashad probably reached the height of his career however, towards his latter years. Before his tragic death last year, Rashad had experienced a stellar 2013, which included his well-received performance at Pitchfork in his hometown and his tour with Chance the Rapper, definitely high up on Rashad’s highlights as both DJ and performer.
His latest EP 6613 is exciting. It’s made up of only four tracks, which vary in intensity and create a shift from an exultant, vocal beginning to a darker, almost belligerent ending. And listening to the full fifteen minutes in track order, there is a feeling that the mood shift almost mirrors the late artist’s life.
We are introduced, through the first track CCP2, to a juke-sounding collaboration with Spinn. This gem of an opener is both melodic and warm; perhaps a ‘warm-up’ for the three tracks that are to come.
Second and definite standout track Cause I Know You Feel featuring Gant-Man speeds up its disco vocal sample and works a medium between an initial soulful vibe and a contrastingly brooding latter half of the EP.
The EP’s penultimate track Ya Hot features Spinn and Taso, and bursts in to frenetic 808 patterns in what is clearly a darker, trap-like sound. Final track Do Not Fuck adds DJ Manny to the party and concludes the EP with an ominous, almost menacing beat, leaving the listener with an uncomfortable afterthought as the EP draws to a panicking end.
This collection is a continuation of this artist’s brilliant work and it separates itself from his more accessible 2013 album Double Cup, yet impressively leaves DJ Rashad’s signature sound.
Long Live Rashad.
You can stream the EP in full below, and purchase here.