REST IN PEACE…
A lot of HipHop Soldiers have fallen in the game of Rap since it first began. Names like Tupac, Biggie, Big Pun, Ol Dirty Bastard, Guru, Big L, Eazy E, and Jam Master Jay are often mentioned. A lot of times when a celebrity rapper dies it helps propel their legacy to a more legendary status but sometime the death of important HipHop artists go under the radar and doesn’t get the deserved attention. I am paying my respects and dedicating this new series of articles to those underappreciated rap artists who have passed away.
a.k.a. Grym Reaper of Gravediggaz
November 15, 1964 – July 15, 2001
Coming out of Wyandanch, Long Island, home of Rakim and Bumpy Knuckles – Anthony Ian Berkeley a.k.a Too Poetic made some noise with his 80s single “God Made Me Funky.” At the time he was signed to Tommyboy, but in the 90′s he became one of the founding members of Gravediggaz alongside RZA, Prince Paul and Fruitkwan from Stetsasonic. I had the privilege to spit rhymes in a few cyphers with Poetic and we hung a few times. Prince Paul told me Poetic used to talk about me and tell Paul how dope I was. I’m proud I was able to make an impression on him. He passed away from Cancer in 2001…
Poetic wrote a verse about his struggle with the deadly disease and recorded it just a few months before he died. Verse 2 of this song. It’s one of the most heartbreaking verses I’ve ever heard.
14 year old Harlem resident signed to Rooftop Records alongside artists like B-Fats and Kool Moe Dee, and he was produced by fellow Harlem representer and future music icon Teddy Riley. If you heard Tony rap you had no idea he was just a little kid, His voice was stronger and more confident than most grown men. In my opinion Tony Tee is arguably the best child rapper that ever lived and I truly believe he had the potential to be one of the greats had he been given the right oppurtunities. I don’t have much info on him, I can’t find his government name or birth/death date but I know Tony was shot dead as a teenager. Here’s one of his joints that I taped off the Rap Attack back in ’88 and used to play in my box in heavy rotation.
Dec 12, 1964 – Jan 22, 2010
Anthony Peaks a.k.a. Apache was most known by mainstream HipHop fans for his smash hit ‘Gangsta Bitch’ produced by Q-Tip but he was much more than a one hit wonder. Apache was a murderous lyrical beast on the mic. As one of Flavor units most lethal Rhyme Spitters – he was highly influential to rappers like Queen Latifah and Naughty By Nature. Someone told me Treach tried to get Apache to come out and do some shows not long before he passed but Apache declined due to religious beliefs. Apache is horribly underrated and I’m positive if he would’ve died closer to the peak of his career there would be a much higher level of appreciation for him by the general public. The causes of his death are undisclosed.
See also: HipHopDX article
COWBOY Of the Furious Five
September 20, 1960 – September 8, 1989
He was one of HipHop’s true pioneers and one of the masterminds behind Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. The Furious Five were depicting vivid street poetry in a style like no one before them. If it wasn’t for their music most of the great lyrical street visualizers like Rakim, Nas, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang and the list goes on… wouldn’t exist. In some way or another they had a major influence on every legitimate lyricist that came after them. There wasn’t a lot of publicity surrounding Cowboy’s death; I’ve heard he died from AIDS Complications – and I heard he died from Crack Addiction. I’m not sure what the truth is. Cowboy should not be forgotten.
a.k.a. Kamakazee of SCREWBALL
????? – March 28, 2008
Queensbridge’s own Kenneth Lewis a.k.a. KL died of an asthma attack. I spent some good time with Screwball up at their label/recording studio Hydra back when they were working on their classic album ‘F.A.Y.B.A.N.’. KL was the cousin of my long time friend Blaq Poet and I became cool with the whole crew; collabing with them various times. I was proud when they got all up in the papers and on the news channels with their controversial joint “Who Shot Rudy” (a song about murdering Rudy Juliani.) KL is definitely a true fallen soldier of HipHop and I’m glad he was able to leave his mark in HipHop before he passed away.
See also: Unkut article
….part II coming soon