- Espinoza played a crucial role in bringing the house sound of Chicago to the world.
Benji Espinoza, the cofounder of the massively influential Chicago house label DJ International, has passed away according to a report in 5 Magazine.
Launched in 1985 by Espinoza and Rocky Jones, the label's catalogue traces the development of house music from a Windy City innovation to a worldwide phenomenon.
The label's first 12-inch, Music Is The Key, came from J.M. Silk, and the imprint would go on to release enduring classics like Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk & Jesse Saunders' "Love Can't Turn Around feat. Darryl Pandy," Fingers Inc.'s "A Path," The It's "Donnie," Joe Smooth's "Promise Land" and Sterling Void and Paris Brightledge's "It's All Right," to name a few.
DJ International was also behind The House Sound Of Chicago, a compilation that played a crucial role in the popularization of house music in the UK.
In recent months, Espinoza told stories about his first encounters with seminal house music tracks by Joe Smooth and Larry Heard.
Legendary Chicago artists and DJ International affiliates eulogized Espinoza on social media.