Feloneezy and Jackie Dagger, Serbia and Mystic Stylez’ two officially inducted members of Teklife, have taken Chicago footwork and bestowed it upon Eastern Europe. By doing so, they have radically changed up the music scene of a country that has been equally as stagnant and conservative as its political infrastructure, and have honored the legacy of DJ Rashad, the father of footwork, to a level that transcends the music scene alone.
Footwork took off after Feloneezy saw DJ Rashad’s right hand and Chicago’s own DJ Spinn perform in Graz, Austria. Immediately after returning to Serbia, he joined forces with Dagger to resurrect their country’s music scene, a scene heavily infused with outdated hybrids of turbo-folk, a synthesis of original melodies and electronic beats, techno, “mainstream” music, and electro house. This scene has been considerably impacted by the Balkan wars, which to this day contribute to Serbia’s struggling market economy, exceptionally trickling downward and discouraging the growth of Serbia’s artistic community.
The Serbia x Teklife collaboration started taking shape at the 2012 SHARE conference in Belgrade, where Feloneezy and Dagger hosted guest Fatima Al Qadiri. Fatima informed Rashad about Belgrade’s exploding footwork scene, which triggered communication regarding joining forces and bringing Rashad to perform in Serbia’s capital. A few months down the line, Rashad and Spinn came out to Belgrade, played with Feloneezy and Dagger, extended their stay, and invited them to join Teklife.
Each time I visit my family in Belgrade, I notice a prevalent sense of fragility in the atmosphere that has stemmed from countless accounts of historical and political turmoil. The turmoil runs from the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo and the separation of former Yugoslavia to the NATO bombing of Belgrade in the late ’90s. It also stems from visa controls and sanctions that have limited imports and travel, ultimately converting Belgrade from an avant-guard and forward-thinking city to one of isolation and stagnation. For a country with such a deeply disturbed past, a healthy music scene plays a key role in constructing a healthy future. Witnessing Feloneezy and Dagger spin in Belgrade did more than just encourage me to rep Chicago while lifting a weight of historical guilt off of my chest; it allowed me to be a part of one of the largest steps that Serbia has ever taken toward transforming its music scene. This is history in the making.
Check out the Boiler Room session below, where Feloneezy and Dagger represent Teklife by channeling Chicago from Belgrade.