Rashad Harden, a house music and footwork pioneer who performed as DJ Rashad, was found dead over the weekend in Chicago of an apparent drug overdose, authorities said Sunday. He was 34.
Chicago Police spokeswoman Janel Sedevic said a friend found Harden’s body Saturday afternoon in an apartment on the city’s West Side. She said that there was no sign of injury but that narcotics and drug paraphernalia were found near his body. An autopsy was scheduled for Sunday, but the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office declined to comment further on Sunday morning.
Harden’s death comes just days before his EP was scheduled for release and less than a month after fellow house music house music star Frankie Knuckles also died the city.
Harden, a resident of nearby Calumet City, was poised for a breakout year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. His fifth album was his best reviewed, he was scheduled to play clubs all over the world, and on Monday, his latest EP, We On 1, was scheduled to be released.
“It’s just a tragic loss of a great musical genius,” said longtime friend and collaborator Morris Harper, who performs as DJ Spinn and who was scheduled to appear Saturday night with Rashad in Detroit.
Rashad was considered a pioneer of footwork – an electronic oriented music genre that originated in Chicago. Once known as juke, footwork is named for its quick dance moves and is known for what Rolling Stone calls a “frenzied and hypnotic style of dance music that features heart-racing BPMs and, often, chopped-up loops of popular rap, R&B and pop vocals.”
The Sun-Times reports that Rashad’s fifth LP, Double Cup, which came out last year, is credited with attracting a wider audience to footwork music.
“He shared his music with everyone that would listen,” Harden’s father, Anthony Harden, told the Sun-Times. “He’s been all over the world, taking footwork all over the world.”