In an almost cult-like fashion, the word Teklife has become a household name in the international dance music community. What started as a tight group of friends with a common interest in the homegrown Chicago culture known as footwork, eventually morphed into a network of artists working in many mediums across the globe. While the beginnings of this art form date back three decades to the early days of house music, the last five years have been some of the most fruitful times in the history of the genre, especially with its widespread expansion from its place of origin into the homes of audiences worldwide.
While the roots of Teklife were planted when its founders DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn met in high school homeroom class in the mid 90s, a huge step in launching their movement was the formation of the Ghettoteknitianz in 2006. At the time, the group consisted almost solely of DJs with affiliations to footwork crews such as Terra Squad and Taliban. Along with seasoned vets, the leaders began recruiting some of the younger producers such as DJ Manny and DJ Earl, to both mentor them, and to help secure the future of their craft for the next generation. The tight knit crew was the most feared in the footwork world, and membership was only given to those who could prove themselves worthy through their music. In the late 2000s the word “Teklife” became a term to refer to those who fit that description, but also dawned a larger movement, one that would take their culture from the streets of Chicago to the rest of the globe.
As the Ghettoteknitianz name was somewhat phased out a few years ago, the newly formed Teklife family grew into a worldwide collective of DJs, dancers, visual artists, vocalists, and more. Rashad, Spinn, and the rest of their peers saw their art form growing legs, and Teklife became a multimedia movement that has reached almost all corners of the globe. While Chicago will always be the epicenter, footwork is no longer restricted to the Midwest, as membership in the group now exists everywhere from Denver to Belgrade. Students of the music from afar were taken in and turned into soldiers of this new revolution in modern dance music, creating new hybrids and expansions on the original format birthed from Chicago.
Unfortunately, the community surrounding this music has recently suffered the great loss of one of Teklife’s founders and most essential figures, DJ Rashad. While with a heavy heart we have mourned his premature death, friends and fans from all over the globe continue to keep his legacy alive by continuing to spread the Teklife name worldwide. I can’t even go out to a party anymore without seeing at least one shirt brandishing the movement’s name. While we can’t physically interact with him anymore, anytime I see an audience of people throwing L’s up in his honor, it’s proof to me that the man and what he started is never going anywhere soon. We miss you Rashad, you left this earth too soon, but you’ll never be forgotten.