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DJ Mehdi

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Biography

Known for his affiliation with fashionable French electro label Ed Banger Records, DJ Mehdi was a producer/remixer of hip-hop and electronic dance music yet is first and foremost remembered as a DJ. Born Mehdi Favéris-Essadi in 1977 in the French commune of Hauts-de-Seine (a northwest suburb of Paris) of Tunisian descent, he grew interested in hip-hop after discovering Public Enemy in the late '80s. DJ Mehdi established himself as a DJ/producer in the trailblazing French rap group Ideal J, whom he joined in 1992 and who released two albums: O'Riginal MC's Sur une Mission (1996) and La Combat Continue (1998), the latter featuring the hit single "Hardcore." Around this same time he began doing outside production work, most notably on the 1997 MC Solaar album Paradisiaque ("Wonderbra") and a couple 113 albums (Ni Barreaux, Ni Barrières, Ni Frontières, 1998; Les Princes de la Ville, 1999). In addition, he founded the short-lived Espionnage label in 1997 along with Manu Key, whom he had worked with in the rap groups Different Teep and Mafia K'1 Fry. DJ Mehdi began crossing over into electronic dance music in 2000 with the release of Espion le EP, an Espionnage compilation that included a diverse array of styles that blurred the lines between hip-hop and dance. A couple more years of production work on albums including Karlito's Contenu Sous Pression (2001) and 113's Fout la Merde (2002) led to (The Story Of) Espion, his full-length debut album, released by the EMI sublabel Delabel. In search of management, DJ Mehdi turned to Pedro Winter (aka Busy P), a fellow DJ whom he had known for years and who not only was well known for successfully managing the career of Daft Punk but was in the process of founding his own label, Ed Banger Records. Under the moniker of Espion, DJ Mehdi made his Ed Banger debut in 2003, producing "Anything Is Possible," the B-side of Justice's "Never Be Alone." DJ Mehdi's next release on Ed Banger, I Am Somebody (2006), a four-track EP featuring remixes by Kenny Dope of Masters at Work, was billed to himself and became an underground sensation, later being licensed for use in a 2007 commercial for XM Satellite Radio in the United States. A full-length album on Ed Banger, Lucky Boy (2006), followed the release of I Am Somebody, as did Loukoums (2006), a rare outtakes mix album released as a tribute to the late J Dilla, whose Stones Throw album Donuts (2006) was its inspiration. In the wake of this success, DJ Mehdi released Lucky Boy at Night (2007), a remix edition of its predecessor; Lucky Girl (2007), a four-track EP; Your Way or Mine? (2007), a blue-vinyl split 7" on Arcade Mode with Kavinsky; and Mixmag Presents: Ed Banger Ménage-à-Trois (2008), a mix CD also featuring Feadz and Pedro Winter. Mehdi died in 2011 when he fell to his death after a roof collapse. He was 34. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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