Forgive me if you think this is mean-spirited, but I have some views I wish to express. It’s a touchy subject, but let’s break some taboos and talk real talk.
I’m not sure how I feel about tributes for Dead Artists. At worse, part of me thinks people exploit Dead Artists for gain. This is in no way directed at this event in particular, this is more of an objective statement.
DJ Rashad (rest in peace) died recently in April at the age of 34.
Rashad was one of the pioneers and champions of juke beats, a variant of Chicago ghetto house music that evolved in part to accommodate the battle-dance variant of breaking known as footwork. The scene blew up in recent years and the music garnered the attention of Hyperdub Records, who released a full work of Rashad’s album – entitled Double Cup – last year.
He left the legacy of cliques behind in Teklife, Beatdown House and Ghettoteknitianz, whose crew members include such producers as DJ Clent, Gant-Man, DJ Earl, Manny, Spinn and LiL JaBBA, amongst many others.
Rashad played at an Operatives event in September last year at Howler’s first show to a packed house. I was actually there and playing footwork in sets myself at the time, and a lot of DJs who were there ended up getting inspired and started playing footwork too.
Now his Melbourne tribute is happening at The Lounge this Saturday. DJs Able 8, Bevin Campbell, B.O.O.M.A, Fletch, Friendships, Simon Winkler, 2fuddha andWooshie will all be playing beats in tribute.
There’s an intent to donate a portion of the profits to his family for the upcoming DJ Rashad gig this Saturday night at The Lounge.
I don’t believe everything is good faith and charity. People may deny and get angry that I say this. Don’t get offended, it’s just an alternative opinion that need voicing. I support Melbourne beats 100%. I just ask that you read this with an open mind, because it’s an objective statement, not directed at any venue or people in particular.
Humans are more complicated and fucked-up than to be 100% charitable, and we’re always after some sort of opportunity for ourselves, me included. I make controversial statements to get your interest. That chick who dedicates her life to saving wildlife wants gratitude from her peers. You may work for a voluntary organisation cause “it’s the right thing to do”, whilst the organisation uses their tax returns to pay for and support themselves.
One of the best ways to get interest is to be really famous or good at something, and then to DIE. Unfortunately, you can’t benefit from this but everyone else can. Don’t be afraid to question your own values.
It annoys the shit out of me that artists “mourn” J Dilla year in, make a point of twittering insincerely “RIP Dilla” and getting extra press for saying their favourite Dilla tracks, while his poor Ma Dukes is poverty-striken from paying Dilla’s hospital bills. I mean honestly, I think most people couldn’t give a fuck if Dilla was alive or dead.
I have to ask promoters here with ANY Rashad tribute: Are DJs getting paid for the tribute (I believe they should cause Rashad would want it that way)? Are footwork DJs or promoters winning from this? Does Rashad’s estate really need the extra money? What would Rashad want in terms of his various tributes? How much is the percentage of profit that will be donated from this event?
Like it or not, DJs who play footwork actually benefit from Rashad’s demise, and now a Dead Artist’s legacy is also inclusive of whole genres of music, as I’m sure many other footwork artists will be played on this night. Footwork is now able to be utilised for specialist genre shows in Melbourne. Teklife DJs are now touring worldwide and getting paid great.
I’m personally fine with whatever, I’m just posing questions of ethics and things are complicated.
DJ Rashad was one of electronic music’s most understated talents, and what he done for beats was inimitable. So I pay tribute too, and am hopefully minimising insincerity in doing so.
The footwork legacy continues through Melbourne DJs and producers.
Oh and by the way, I am aware of the inherent contradiction of writing an article with a Dead Artist at the root of it. That’s for me to deal with moralistically, search your own soul.
In the end, I do reckon it’s great that juke has come to prominence. Rashad would definitely be happy with that.
Starts 10pm. The Lounge, 243 Swanston St, Melbourne. $10.
Written by Kristian Hatton.