DJ Rashad Afterlife Teklife
Footwork has proven itself one of the most diverse styles in club music. Compare the minimal, abrasive vocal cut-ups of Dj Roc’s Crack Capone with Traxman’s soulful offerings, or Jlin’s menacing sonic assaults, and you’d swear they were made in different worlds entirely. That said, it seems likely that the polished, high-energy formula of the late Rashad Harden will serve as a benchmark for the many footwork producers who continue to take inspiration from his work.
Afterlife isn’t the first record to celebrate Rashad’s achievements. Machinedrum paid tribute with the Movin’ Forward release, and Hyperdub’s Next Life compilation acknowledged the style’s potential for fierce futurism, with unreleased tracks from a range of names taking footwork forward – DJ Rashad made a single official appearance.
Afterlife takes a more direct approach, unearthing 14 unreleased Rashad tracks created with collaborators Spinn, Gantman, Traxman and younger producers such as Earl, Manny and Taso. The Teklife crew’s industrious production rate, as seen in Tim and Barry’s 2012 documentary, suggests there must have been a serious catalogue to dig through.
Most interesting on Afterlife are the tracks with little things you don’t hear elsewhere in Rashad’s work. Oh God has a slow burning intro made with a mournful, wavering synth and minimal drums. It sounds a little cinematic in the same way Bowie’s Warszawa does. Get Fuk’d Up’s brooding saw-tooth buzz and shouty vocals are confrontational, anti-party, even threatening. The same hard edge appears on Ratchet City, with machine-gun speed claps and relentless, exasperated vocals.
Closer Roll a Tree is great fun – Jill Scott’s turn-of-the-century RnB single Take a Long Walk gets loaded into the MPC, and Rashad and Manny get trigger-happy on the pads. I say that, actually what I mean is they lose their shit and totally gut the thing. Job done.