Welcome to 909rewind, a series from 909originals that explores the early musical careers of some of clubland’s biggest names, uncovering hidden gems and familiar classics from the archives.
For our first playlist of the new year, we pay tribute to one of the most idiosyncratic artists in techno, who just so happens to celebrate his 50th birthday today – Isaiah Major, aka DJ Rush.
The Chicago native has become synonymous with raw, uncompromising techno for close to three decades, with early releases on Trax Records and Dance Mania at the start of the 90s followed up by devastating cuts on key techno labels such as Djax-Up-Beats, Force Inc and Pro-Jex, as well as Green Velvet’s Relief Records.
Rush was an early convert to the DJ lifestyle, getting his first set of Technics SL 1200s at the age of 11, and putting on parties in his local neighbourhood a year later. As he told Our Culture Mag in 2017, the Rush moniker came from his inability to slowdown as a youth.
“When I was in high school, a DJ friend said ‘hey man, you’re always in a rush, your name should be Rush’, and from that point on in 1985 my name has been DJ Rush”.
One of the turning points in his career came in the 90s, when he moved to Germany, and was immersed in the nascent European techno culture.
“Things weren’t moving in the direction I wanted to go,” he told iVibes back in 2002. “Everyone wanted to stay with what they knew, and the scene started to divide and I was growing beyond my time. […] I needed to move on and experience a whole new world.”
He also developed a unique performance style – taking to the mic during full-on schranz sets to energise the crowd. As arguably his most famous vocal intervention, from Get On Up (with more than a nod to Dr Dre’s Keep Their Heads Ringing), puts it:
“Hey you, sitting over there,
You better get up out your chair,
And work your body down,
No time to mess around.”
Rarely copied (how do you copy a six-foot-six individual with a penchant for platform shoes and makeup?), and even more rarely equalled, DJ Rush remains one of the most unconventional beat-slayers in the business.
Here’s a selection of cuts from the early part of his career, including a couple of seminal remixes. Happy birthday DJ Rush! 🙂
[Main picture by Julien Christ/Wikimedia Commons]