When legendary Chicago producer DJ Rashad was found dead in his apartment on April 26th 2014, just weeks after Hyperdub had announced plans for their tenth birthday celebrations, the label was plunged into a period of extreme tragedy.
Although the relationship between Rashad and Hyperdub had been a relatively recent development – with an album and single releases in 2013 – the artistic association represented the ever-changing and ever-expanding nature of Hyperdub as a label. Despite origins in dubstep, Hyperdub has always looked to move beyond safe ground and explore new sonic avenues, and the collaboration with DJ Rashad and the Chicago footwork scene perfectly represented this progression and expansion.
Just months after the death of Rashad, Hyperdub’s annus horribilis was truly topped off by the death of label stalwart Stephen Gordon (aka The Spaceape) after he lost a five year battle with a rare form of cancer. If ever there had been a voice of Hyperdub, and of the experimental music they have endeavoured to create over the last decade, it was that of The Spaceape. The vocalist, poet and MC appeared on the very first Hyperdub release in in 2004 and had been an ever present figure throughout the label’s growth and expansion.
In any story, the defining moment for the protagonist comes after the tragedy, after the obstacle that threatens to ruin the good that has come before.
In the tale of Hyperdub, this obstacle has taken a truly devastating form and whilst the loss of DJ Rashad and The Spaceape will always mark a low point in the history of the label, what comes next is absolutely key.
Hyperdub is still understandably in a period of mourning, their family has been devastated in what should have been time celebration. But the future does not look bleak. Two exciting, experimental and intriguing releases from the deceased’s closest friends are testament to the label’s fortitude, resilience and dedication to their art.
On October 2nd, Hyperdub will release ‘Off That Loud’, an E.P. from Rashad’s closest friend and long-time collaborator DJ Spinn. The lead single ‘Dubby’ features Rashad and exciting Detroit rapper Danny Brown and displays perfectly the expeditions into footwork, jazz, hip-hop and jungle that define Hyperdub’s exploration of interesting and exciting sounds.
Later, in early November, Kode9 will release ‘Nothing’, his first solo LP following two previous collaborations with The Spaceape. He has already confirmed that Gordon’s vocals will appear on the album, but a track aptly entitled ‘Void’ that was originally intended for The Spaceape will be left bare. Kode9’s album, drawing from ‘horror soundtracks, sampled library records, j-pop, grime, early dubstep and Chicago footwork’ will close with nine minutes of silence entitled ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ in tribute to his friend.
Preorder “Off That Loud EP”by DJ Spinn on iTunes
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Photo by Elevate Festival