Tim Haslett

Tim Haslett was a multi-faceted and righteous force of nature: Journalist, DJ, Scholar, Vinyl Obsessive and Social Activist were some of the monikers one might use to describe himfrequently on the same day, or even in the same conversation.

Born in London, he grew up in Kingston, MA and developed a love of music – especially Black Music – at a relatively early age. By adulthood, he was as much of a fan of the sumptuous ‘70s productions of Giorgio Moroder and Quincy Jones as he was of ‘80s and ‘90s pioneers like Marshall Jefferson, DJ Marley Marl, Jeff Mills and Frank Ski. Studio magicians King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry also remained perpetual North Stars in his musical world.

In the early 1990s, while still an undergrad at Brandeis University, he graduated from fan to professional cheerleader, writing for magazines including Rockpool, CMJ, and Streetsound. He specialized in dance music, and was particularly known for his support of up-and-coming Techno and House – and occasionally, Hip-Hop – artists from all corners of the globe. His mailbox was inundated weekly with promotional vinyl shipments from Rotterdam, Berlin, London, Detroit and just about anywhere else that sound vibrations were pressed onto wax.

Tim added to his musical immersion and education through his work at retail establishments in Boston like Boston Beat, Biscuithead and (Harvard Square’s) Other Music. He also worked at the famed Other Music flagship in New York City in the late ‘90s, while pursuing his master’s degree in Africana & African Diaspora Studies from NYU. Tim was also a well-known DJ at WZBC 90.3 FM (Boston College), where he produced and hosted multiple shows starting in the early 1990s, from the dance- / electronic-based “Hardwired” and “Tranquility Bass” to hip-hop (“School Beats”) and “Funk To The Folks”; the latter shows co-hosted with Brian Coleman of Want List Records.

Tim was an ardent social activist, fighting white supremacy before it became fashionable, and calling for African-American Reparations years before the current movement gathered steam. In the early 2000s, he described himself in this way: [I am] gregarious, talkative (perhaps a little too much), very dry sense of humor, political zealot and proselytizer for the erosion of white supremacy, patriarchy, and homophobia (i.e. those everyday things that kill people’s souls).”

Tim died in the spring of 2008 while working toward his PhD in African American and African Studies fromMichigan State University. He was 42 years old. He had struggled mightily, as so many people do, with severe anxiety and a flawed mental health system that contributed to his death. His absence left a hole in the Boston music community and the global dance music universe that is still felt today. His family and friends still miss his incredibly sharp wit, his passion and his infectious, unique sense of humor.