Tributes paid to Kuala Lumpur dance music pioneer DJ Gabriel Chong, dead at 48

The Singapore-born DJ has been hailed for his contributions to developing Malaysia's club scene

DJ Gabriel Chong, the Singaporean-born DJ and producer considered a pioneer in Kuala Lumpur’s dance music scene, has died.

Gabriel Chong – also known as Gabriel Mustaqim and, more recently, under his tech house-focused artist moniker Jeneral Kai – died on July 7 of health complications, according to The Star. He was 48 years old.

According to a tribute in UNRESERVED penned by editor-in-chief Kassandra Kassim, Gabriel had suffered an asthma attack and was discovered to have kidney issues. He reportedly slipped into a coma soon after.

DJ Gabriel was known for his significant contributions to Malaysian club music, particularly in its capital of Kuala Lumpur, as detailed by The Star. Steeped in hip-hop culture and turntablism and having performed sets at a young age since the 1980s, he represented Singapore at the DMC World DJ Championships in London in 1988.

As a new decade approached, Gabriel turned to dance music and its two foundational subgenres: house and techno. He established Kuala Lumpur’s first dance record shop, Singles Shoppe, and co-founded the professional DJ collective Tempo.

While touring in Europe and the US, Gabriel made industry connections that opened an opportunity as a gig promoter in the ’90s. Under Tempo’s events branch, Gabriel organised Kuala Lumpur dates for international artists, allowing many of them to perform in the city for the first time.

Gabriel went on to hold permanent and monthly residencies as a DJ in Kuala Lumpur and around the region, operating under various monikers, including DeepHouseSociety and Jeneral Kai.

Tributes have poured in for DJ Gabriel. Malaysian rapper Joe Flizzow took to Instagram to express his regret at his passing. “Al-Fatiha and prayers for DJ Gabriel Mustaqim. A true pioneer in the scene and a big brother to many. Thank you for the music,” he wrote.

Malaysian artists Kmy Kmo and Roshan Jamrock, as well as US rapper Lupe Fiasco, commented with messages of condolences.

In her tribute for UNRESERVED, editor-in-chief Kassandra Kassim remembered how DJ Gabriel introduced her to “a world of music that made a substantial difference in my sound” in the ’90s.

She continued, “He is symbolic of the 90s in KL [Kuala Lumpur] where there was a confident vibe, and attitude was everything. Time Out UK once voted KL the fourth best place to party in the world in the late 90s. I like to think he played a big role in that.”

Read other tributes to DJ Gabriel below.

Gabriel Mustaqim, Gabriel Chong, Deep House Society, Jeneral Kai.I watched you DJ long before I wrote about you and…

Posted by Jason Cheah on Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Gabriel /Gabe/ah Chong and then finally Mambo. Mambo because as a dj he was fully sponsored from head to toe by Mambo…..

Posted by Jay Subramaniam on Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Shocked to hear DJ Gabriel has passed away. He will remain synonymous to the 1990's KL/Msia/SEA asia DJ club / techno /…

Posted by Yee I-Lann on Wednesday, July 7, 2021