Perspective: Addison Groove remembers DJ Rashad
Tony Williams, aka Addison Groove, is a renowned producer and DJ from Bristol. He was an early supporter of Chicago footwork in the UK, and has remained committed to spreading its popularity across Europe and beyond. On 26 April 2014, DJ Rashad – thought of by many as footwork’s figurehead – passed away. In this article, Williams shares the memories of his late friend and collaborator, and celebrates the future of footwork music.
Footwork ascended from a Chicago street dance to a global movement, and I always knew it would. I’d try and trick people into hearing it by starting off my ‘dubstep’ DJ sets with it back in 2008. I will never forget the day I saw Fabric explode to the sounds of juke. I try to push myself and the audience, and footwork was a sure way to get people weird. Like a raging bull full of sperm, it bashed down barriers with no true formula. It came at a time when many production levels were so high that the spirit of the music was often lost. This music was not about production, it was about a feeling.
I met DJ Rashad for the first time in Room 2 of Corsica Studios, a London venue with a sound system that can cover the frequencies of footwork. I told him that I’d been playing his music nonstop since I’d discovered it, that it was the most exciting thing to happen in years. With his backpack on and ever so humble persona, he could not stop thanking me.
That night I played my set, he played his set, and at the end we went back-to-back. That made my fucking year. This was my glimpse of Rashad’s character. There was no ego. How many DJs do you know who will give up half their set to let you tag with them? He made everyone feel like they were part of his family.
Next time I saw Rashad was in Berlin a few days later. We were playing a venue called Horst Krzbrg – one of my favorite venues that city has ever had. I remember playing him acid techno before the show. ‘Yeah this shit’s crazy,’ he says. ‘I get down with this, pass me your USB key, I’ll load you up.’
I came from a world where dubplates and exclusives were everything, yet Rashad would openly hand me and most others he met a folder full of 300 new tunes him and his Teklife crew had made in the last few months. To this day, I still have music from him that I haven’t got round to playing.
I was in my hotel room, an hour before I was to DJ at a London club, when someone called me to tell me that Rashad had died. It was hard to believe. As I’m playing, I’m checking the socials to see if anything came up… not a word. Then within about half an hour or so of it getting out, it was trending on Twitter: #ripdjrashad.
Me and Rashad had spent a lot of time together, either on tour or in my house when he had some down time in-between gigs. Those days were spent watching Richard Pryor, making music or listening to his stories of Chicago life. On the road, I’d introduce him to whisky and tequila that I have a passion for. ‘You don’t wanna drink that shit, this is much better’… a phrase I’ve said a million times now.
My hat goes off to DJ Spinn. Rashad was his long time friend, when he died it hit me hard, but it must have hit Spinn 10 times harder. Yet Spinn persevered, and to this day, is flying the flag strong. The Teklife baton has been handed over to DJ Earl, DJ Taye, Taso, Manny, Ashes 57 and many others. There is not a weekend that passes where I look up at the crowd and don’t see someone wearing a Teklife t-shirt. The logo is a sure sign of a good party with the right people.
I miss Rashad everyday. But I can see how much the world cared for him and his love of footwork. Had he not been alive at the time he was, maybe none of us would have ever heard such a distinctive sound. When I meet up with others that knew him, there is an underlying feeling among us that one person brought us all together. The future looks fine for Teklife, and they had a mentor who will never be forgotten.