CHICAGO — This week saw the passing of Chicago born songwriter and performer William Perry Jr., better known as DJ Casper. DJ Casper was honored in his hometown with the release of a dirge tempo version of his magnum opus, 2000’s, “Cha Cha Slide.” This mournful, minor key version of the wedding reception mainstay will be played around the city to mark Perry's passing.
“It’s so sad, I didn’t even know he’d passed,” said Sadie Norman, 43, a nurse and fan of DJ Casper’s. “I turned on the radio this morning and they were playing the saddest song. It was all like ‘take it back now y’all, one hop this time, one hop this time,’ and I started sobbing. I wish I could take it back one more hop, you know?”
The pensive, mid-tempo version of “Cha Cha Slide” was put together by DJ Funeral_Pyre, an admirer of Perry’s work and the third most popular mourncore DJ on SoundCloud. Funeral_Pyre’s version features the rhythm of a slowly tolling bell and a choir, recorded at a monastery in the saddest part of Slovakia.
“Themes of death, obedience, and predestination are common in Casper’s work,” said Funeral_Pyre, who refused to give his name or remove his LED skull mask during our interview. “Many people thought he gained the nom-de-spin ‘Casper’ for wearing all white onstage, but in reality it was because ‘Cha Cha Slide’ is a meditation on death. When he tells us to see ‘how low can you go? All the way to the floor?,’ he is welcoming us into the grave, only to tell us to rise again, to ‘bring it to the top, like it never ever stops.’ He is referencing the cycle of life, decay and rebirth.”
“Still not sure what the ‘Charlie Brown’ part is a reference to. Maybe he was just a Peanuts fan. Really, who isn’t?”
The song, titled “Cha Cha Slide (Memento Mori Mix) [feat. Fat Joe]” will play over the Chicagoland radio waves for the rest of the month, and will be free to download on the City of Chicago’s website, but you have to log in and they won’t let you download till you’ve paid all your traffic tickets.
“DJ Casper was beloved by Chicagoans and anyone drunk enough to dance at a wedding reception,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “His music represented our fine city on dance floors across the planet, it was music that even your most conservative old relatives would get funky to. Chicago salutes DJ Casper, and I encourage everyone to — solemnly, and with great reverence — freeze. Now everybody clap your hands.”