Aaron-Carl, Detroit Producer, Label Owner, and DJ, Passes Away

I hate the term “RIP”. It seems like there’s so much to say about someone once they’re gone, things you wish you had said earlier even if it would have made you sound like a fool – so many words that you become mute, dumb, silent, and can only mumble “RIP”.

I was hoping that today’s news that producer Aaron-Carl, a driving force behind Detroit’s House renaissance over the last decade-plus, had succumbed to cancer, was only a rumor.

If true, it seemed like a cruel trick. Less than a week ago (albeit after a period of illness), Aaron made a video announcing that he had cancer. Understand? He’d only been disgnosed with lymphoma week ago.

His twitter account is a stream of optimistic posts – frozen, it now seems, because a story that was derived from a single source unfortunately has been confirmed. Vocalist Michelle Weeks has posted a heart-rending farewell on her twitter page, and others close to him have also shared the terrible news that Aaron-Carl has died.

This news is, in a word, staggering.

I didn’t know Aaron outside of a few emails we shared about one of his records – if I remember right, “Use Me” on Aaron’s Wallshaker Music – back in 2007. But I was always aware of what he was doing, since I first heard “My House” on Josh Wink’s Ovum back in 2000.

And the tragedy of this is that Aaron was really beginning to take over the world. He worked with Quentin Harris on the latter’s album Sacrifice, with the track “Apologize”, and was about to embark on another tour through Europe when he was fell ill again and confronted the diagnosis of cancer with a strength which can only be described as courageous.

More than that, I saw in Aaron something I respect in Mike Dunn, Terry Hunter, Paul Johnson, and many of my city’s legends who continue to slug their way with perseverance, through the good times and the bad here in Chicago: Aaron’s music is universal, and in a sense belongs to the world now, but will always, always, always be rooted in Detroit.

The sheer suddenness alone is enough to give one pause. Just hours ago, he was courageously struggling with a deadly illness; just weeks ago, he was quite unaware he had it at all. This is as cliché as saying “RIP”, but this tragedy drives home the transitory nature of life, the joys of which Aaron celebrated in song.

This news is a terrible tragedy, both for those who knew him and those who didn’t, who loved his recordings or his sets, but most of all for his friends and family who knew him personally. Our deepest condolences to them, on behalf of all of us, and surely I speak for the House community worldwide.