Rashad Harden, at 34; DJ who pioneered footwork style of dance music

CHICAGO — 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 Mr. 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 conducted Sunday but the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said it was waiting for the results of toxicology tests to determine a cause of death.

Mr. 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.


Mr. Harden’s longtime friend and collaborator Morris Harper, who performs as DJ Spinn and who was scheduled to appear Saturday night with Mr. Harden in Detroit, called his friend’s death a tragic loss.

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Mr. Harden was considered a pioneer of footwork — an electronic-oriented music genre that originated in Chicago.

Once called 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 reported that Mr. Harden’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,’’ his father, Anthony Harden, told the Sun-Times. ‘‘He’s been all over the world, taking footwork all over the world.’’