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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

R.I.P. DJ Mehdi, Prolific French Electronic and Hip-Hop Producer

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 10:41 AM


DJ Mehdi, one of the leading figures in French hip-hop and electronic music over the past decade, died tragically on Tuesday at age 34. According to reports, he was on the roof of his house in Paris with friends, throwing a birthday party for fellow DJ and sometime collaborator Riton. During the festivities, the roof of his house apparently collapsed. His was the only death, but several of his houseguests reportedly also suffered injuries. News of his death has sent shock waves through the electronic music world, as the group of high-profile artists he collaborated with and influenced is large.

Mehdi, born Mehdi Favéris-Essadi, was active on the French hip-hop scene in the 1990s, but began to make a name for himself upon signing with the electro label Ed Banger. His rise to prominence in the late '90s and early 2000s coincided with the popularity of American hip-hop producers like Timbaland and the Neptunes, who blended rap with electronica. Because Mehdi had a similarly genre-bending approach to production, and especially with the increasing utility of the Internet in spreading underground music internationally, his work was right in step with the larger musical trends.

Mehdi's solo work includes 2002's The Story of Espion and 2006's Lucky Boy, but he is perhaps best known for his production work with acts such as Daft Punk, the influential French hip-hop artist MC Solaar, and Canadian electro duo Chromeo. The Mehdi-produced 1997 Solaar track "Wonderbra," which appeared on the rapper's Paradisiaque album, is a pretty bare-bones hip-hop track, a sharp stylistic contrast to his work into the 21st century, which began to trend away from hip-hop and more towards disco and electronica. His 2007 collaboration with Chromeo, entitled "I Am Somebody," boosted his profile in the U.S. when it was used in a commercial for XM satellite radio. In 2010, he and Riton formed the duo Carte Blanche, and the duo remained active right up until the horrific accident that took Mehdi's life this week.

Since his death, tributes to Mehdi have poured in from across different subcultures of hip-hop and electronic music. Chromeo's official Twitter feed read, "We lost our brother. No words." The duo later announced that a show this week in Dallas was being postponed so they could travel to Paris to attend Mehdi's funeral. Other DJs have paid their respects, and even pop stars like Katy Perry, Drake, and Kid Cudi have taken to Twitter to mourn his loss. His impact was widespread, and it's all of our loss that somebody this talented was taken from us this young.


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