Showing posts with label artist death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label artist death. Show all posts

Thursday, October 26, 2023

B-Rock and The Bizz Rapper Paul Costict Passes Away at 57

Courtesy Photo 
Paul Costict, a hip-hop pioneer and member of the '90s rap collective B-Rock and The Bizz, has passed away suddenly at the age of 57, leaving the music community in mourning.

The news of Costict's unexpected demise was confirmed by an unidentified family member who spoke to TMZ. According to reports, he died at his residence in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday. As of now, the exact cause of his death remains undisclosed.

Costict rose to prominence as a member of B-Rock and The Bizz, a group known for their 1997 hit single "My Baby Daddy." The song achieved remarkable success, securing a place in the top ten on the Billboard charts and earning gold certification. While the group is often labeled as a one-hit wonder, their musical legacy endures in the hip-hop community.

In 2022, their influence reached a new generation when global superstar Rihanna was seen wearing a t-shirt with the phrase "dat's just my baby daddy" during her pregnancy, paying tribute to B-Rock and The Bizz.

Thaddeus T-Bird Maye, a former bandmate of Costict, paid an emotional tribute to the late musician. "This one really hit home. I got tears in my eyes as I post this. PAUL COSTICT was a very funny and Kool brother. We go way back to Blount High School," said Maye. "He was so funny. Love you, brother. Rest in peace. Please keep me and his family in your PRAYERS."

B-Rock and The Bizz, consisting of Costict, Baron "B-Rock" Agee, Leevirt Agee, and Maye, emerged from Mobile, Alabama, in 1986, making history as the first rap group from the city. Their signature hit, "My Baby Daddy," propelled them into the national spotlight, earning gold certification and securing a place in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

'Shaft' Icon Richard Roundtree, Who Showcased Musical Talents, Passes at 81 After Cancer Battle

Richard Roundtree, the legendary actor celebrated for his groundbreaking portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the iconic 1971 film "Shaft," passed away Tuesday at the age of 81 following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

The confirmation of Roundtree's passing was provided by his manager, Patrick McMinn, who had been managing his career since 1987. McMinn, in a statement, reflected on Roundtree's profound impact on the film industry. He stated, "Richard's work and career served as a turning point for African American leading men in film. The impact he had on the industry cannot be overstated."

Roundtree's remarkable journey began with a modeling career, but at the age of 28, he secured the role of John Shaft in the iconic "Shaft" film. The action-packed movie, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, achieved tremendous success, grossing $12 million against a meager budget of $500,000 and helping rescue the studio from financial woes. It set the stage for an era of prolific Blaxploitation filmmaking and underlined the historical oversight of Black talent by Hollywood.

However, Roundtree's influence extended far beyond the silver screen. In 1972, he ventured into the world of music with the release of his debut album, "The Man from Shaft." This musical project marked a distinct departure from his tough-guy image as a private investigator and showcased his versatility as an artist.

"The Man from Shaft" was a unique creation, with Roundtree's singing debut produced by the accomplished musician Gene McDaniels. McDaniels, known as a singer, songwriter, and producer, played a pivotal role in shaping the album's sound. Roundtree's vocals were complemented by a talented ensemble of musicians, including jazz luminaries such as Hubert Laws, Pepper Adams, Jerry Dodgion, Sonny Fortune and Billy Harper. This collaboration resulted in a musical fusion that combined elements of jazz and funk, creating a distinctive and memorable sound.

The lead track of the album, "Gets Hard Sometimes," exemplified the fusion of genres, incorporating a funky groove that bore the hallmark of McDaniels's musical style. While "The Man from Shaft" did not achieve widespread commercial success, it represented a significant and memorable project in Roundtree's artistic journey, highlighting his willingness to explore different creative avenues beyond acting.

Roundtree's groundbreaking role in "Shaft" led to two rapid sequels, "Shaft's Big Score" and "Shaft in Africa," as well as a short-lived 1973 "Shaft" television series on CBS, which he viewed as a less favorable chapter in his illustrious career.

As the years went by, Roundtree's career continued to flourish, extending beyond his initial stardom. He featured in films such as "Earthquake," "Man Friday" alongside Peter O'Toole and Larry Cohen's monster comedy "Q — The Winged Serpent." In addition to his film work, he made notable guest appearances on television, including roles in "Roots," "Magnum P.I." and "The Love Boat."

In 2000, Roundtree revisited the world of "Shaft" in John Singleton's revival of the franchise, co-starring with Samuel L. Jackson, who played a character related to Roundtree's original private eye. This collaboration continued in 2019 with Tim Story's comedic take on the series.

Born on July 9, 1942, in Rochester, New York, Roundtree briefly attended Southern Illinois University before embarking on his modeling career. In the late '60s, he joined the Negro Ensemble Company, which initiated his involvement in New York stage productions.

Roundtree's remarkable career spanned over five decades, and his portrayal of Shaft, his contributions to genre filmmaking, and his captivating screen presence added vibrancy to films like "Se7en," "Brick" and "Speed Racer." His recent work included a role in "Moving On," a comedy featuring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was later released in theaters.

He was married twice, first to Mary Jane Grant from 1963 to 1973, and later to Karen M. Cierna from 1980 to 1998. He is survived by his four daughters, Nicole, Tayler, Morgan and Kelli Roundtree, as well as his son, James.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

"Legendary DJ and Producer DJ Mark The 45 King Passes at 62

45 King Boiler Room DJ set (Screengrab: YouTube)
DJ Mark The 45 King, an icon in the world of hip-hop renowned for his groundbreaking work as a producer and DJ, has passed away at the age of 62. His death was confirmed by DJ Premier, who described him as an "ICON."

While the specific cause of his passing remains undisclosed, the news comes shortly after DJ Mark The 45 King celebrated his 62nd birthday on October 16, marking a somber moment in the realm of music.

Known as Mark Howard James in private life, DJ Mark The 45 King hailed from the Bronx, New York, and commenced his illustrious DJ career in the mid-1980s. He adopted the moniker "45 King" due to his unique ability to craft beats from old 45 RPM records, setting the stage for his distinctive approach to music production.

His career trajectory saw a meteoric rise with the release of the breakbeat track "The 900 Number" in 1987, a composition that has inspired countless artists through its samples. Inextricably tied to the Flavor Unit, a renowned collective of artists, DJ Mark The 45 King lent his production talents to a lineup that included luminaries like Queen Latifah, Chill Rob G, Lakim Shabazz and Apache.

One of his most significant career milestones came in 1989 when he made pivotal contributions to Queen Latifah's album "All Hail the Queen." His production on this record is lauded by critics as some of his most exceptional work.

In 1996, DJ Kool, a go-go artist from Washington, D.C., catapulted to success with the hit song "Let Me Clear My Throat," which was set to the backdrop of DJ Mark The 45 King's "900 Number" beat. DJ Kool graciously acknowledged the 45 King as the originator of the song's iconic sound.

The pinnacle of his career arrived in 1998 when he produced "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" for Jay-Z, featuring the memorable chorus from the original cast album of the Broadway musical "Annie." Jay-Z himself hailed DJ Mark The 45 King as a trailblazer in hip-hop during an interview, recognizing his pivotal contributions to the genre.

DJ Premier, a close collaborator and friend of DJ Mark The 45 King, shared his thoughts on the iconic producer's passing, stating, "R.I.P. DJ Mark The 45 King who passed this morning. An ICON. His 62nd Birthday was Monday. I never heard of Gang Starr until I heard DJ Red Alert play their 2nd single Produced by Mark on 98.7 Kiss in NYC while shopping my demos looking to get a record deal."

DJ Premier added, "Mark is responsible for so many classics and was a member of the Iconic Crew FLAVOR UNIT, including Queen Latifah, Latee, Chill Rob G., Lakim Shabazz, Double J, Lord Alibaski, DJ Cee Justice, Apache, Naughty By Nature, Freddie Foxxx, Markey Fresh, Rowdy Rahz, Storm P, Shakim, and many more members. His sound was unlike any other, from his heavy drums to his distinct horns on every production."

Further acknowledging DJ Mark The 45 King's impact, DJ Premier noted, "He got a huge Warner Bros. deal and remixed the Classic Madonna single 'Keep It Together' and the raw remix of Eric B. & Rakim 'I Know You Got Soul.' The '900 Number' is a Super Classic, Queen Latifah's 'Wrath Of My Madness,' 'Ladies First' with Monie Love, Chill Rob G's 'Court Is In Session,' Latee's 'Cuts Got Flavor,' the Historical Jay-Z hit 'Hard Knock Life,' and Eminem's 'Stan,' to name a few of his catalog that will forever ring bells."

Throughout his distinguished career, DJ Mark The 45 King provided beats for a multitude of celebrated artists, including Eric B. & Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Madonna and Eminem.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Arrest Made in Connection with 1996 Murder of Tupac Shakur

In a significant breakthrough in a decades-old case, Duane "Keffe D" Davis, a Las Vegas man, has been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the drive-by shooting that claimed the life of hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur in 1996.

Two law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the arrest confirmed it to multiple media outlets. The exact charges against Davis are yet to be disclosed.

Today's arrest follows a search of Davis' home in July by Las Vegas police as part of the ongoing investigation into Shakur's murder.

While the details surrounding the arrest are limited, it marks a crucial development in a case that has perplexed investigators and captured public attention for 27 years.

During the search, authorities focused on various electronic storage devices, including desktops, thumb drives, CDs, external hard drives, and audio recordings. Notably, they discovered a Pokeball USB drive, a black iPhone, two iPads, a purple Toshiba laptop, and other items.

Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was fatally shot on September 7, 1996, in Las Vegas while riding with Death Row Records co-founder Marion "Suge" Knight after a Mike Tyson fight. Their vehicle was stopped at a red light when a white Cadillac pulled up alongside them. An unidentified assailant fired 14 shots, hitting Shakur four times. He succumbed to his injuries six days later, on September 13, 1996.

Orlando Anderson, a known Crips gang member, was an early suspect due to his involvement in an altercation with Shakur on the night of the shooting. Witnesses in Knight and Shakur's entourage indicated that Anderson may have been the shooter. However, Anderson died in an unrelated gang-related shooting in 1998, and the case went cold.

In 2018, Duane Davis, a former gang member, claimed on BET's "Death Row Chronicles" that he knew who killed Tupac Shakur but did not provide names. He also did not rule out the possibility that his late nephew, Orlando Anderson, was involved. Davis later chronicled these events in his 2019 memoir, "Compton Street Legend."

The arrest of Davis, one of the last living witnesses to the shooting, brings renewed hope of solving the murder of Shakur, an influential and iconic figure in the hip-hop industry. Davis had previously disclosed that he cooperated with federal and local authorities in 2010, sharing information about Shakur's killing and the murder of Shakur's rap rival, Christopher Wallace, also known as the Notorious B.I.G.

Shakur's death left a lasting void in the music world. He achieved remarkable success with albums like "All Eyez on Me" and engaged in a highly publicized feud with the Notorious B.I.G. before his tragic passing at the age of 25. In 2017, Tupac was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, solidifying his status as one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Rapper and Actor Nashawn Breedlove, Recognized for '8 Mile,' Passes On at 46

Photo Credit: Patricia Breedlove/Facebook
Nashawn Breedlove, celebrated for his role as Lotto in the 2002 film "8 Mile" and his career in rap music under the name Ox, has tragically passed away at the age of 46. His mother, Patricia Breedlove, confirmed his untimely departure through a heartfelt Facebook post.

"In memory of Nashawn, I want to share his steadfast faith in God and his unwavering dedication to his craft," Patricia Breedlove expressed in a poignant tribute. "His character and strength inspired all who crossed his path."

Breedlove etched himself into the annals of hip-hop history with his unforgettable rap battle against Eminem in "8 Mile," a film loosely inspired by the life of the rap icon.

Beyond his cinematic acclaim, Breedlove made significant contributions to the hip-hop landscape. He lent his talents to the soundtrack of the 2001 film "The Wash," collaborating with hip-hop luminaries Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on the track "Don't Talk Shit."

The New Jersey Department of Health is presently delving into the circumstances surrounding Breedlove's passing, with the exact cause yet to be revealed.

Monday, September 18, 2023

R&B Star Irish Grinstead of 702 Dies at 43

Irish Grinstead
Irish Grinstead, a prominent member of the '90s R&B girl group 702, known for hits like "Where My Girls At?," has tragically passed away at the age of 43. Her representative, Cory Taylor, confirmed the news to USA TODAY on Sunday. The cause of her untimely death remains undisclosed.

In a heartfelt statement shared on Instagram, LeMisha Grinstead, Irish's sister and fellow bandmate, expressed profound grief and the family's request for privacy during this difficult time.

LeMisha wrote, "It is with great sadness that I have to let you know that my beautiful sister and friend, Irish Grinstead, has passed away this evening. She has had a long battle, and she is finally at peace. That girl was as bright as the stars! She was not only beautiful on the outside but also within. Sharing the stage with her was a joy I will cherish for the rest of my life! We, the family, ask for prayers and respect for our privacy as we grieve an outstanding loss to our family. Love always, Misha."

Irish Grinstead faced health challenges in the months leading up to her passing. In December 2022, 702 disclosed on Instagram that Irish was taking a "medical leave of absence due to serious medical issues." The specific nature of her medical condition was not disclosed in the post.

"It is our hope that she will experience a healthy and swift recovery in the upcoming months," the group conveyed at the time. "During this incredibly challenging period, we kindly ask for your understanding of our need for privacy and your continued prayers as Meelah and Misha continue to navigate and represent 702 for scheduled performances in 2023."

Irish Grinstead achieved fame as an integral part of 702, a group named after the Las Vegas area code, their hometown. The group's debut in 1996 saw the release of the gold-certified album "No Doubt," featuring the chart-topping single "Steelo," a collaboration with Missy Elliott.

702's most iconic hit, "Where My Girls At?," claimed the No. 4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1999. As news of Irish Grinstead's passing spread, tributes from fans flooded social media, featuring music video clips showcasing her signature dance moves alongside her sister and fellow band member, Kameelah Williams.

While "Star" marked the group's last album, released two decades ago, they continued to captivate audiences with live performances, including several scheduled for the remainder of this year.

Irish Grinstead's twin sister, Orish Grinstead, sadly passed away in 2008.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Hip-Hop Icon Magoo of Timbaland & Magoo Duo Dies at 50

The hip-hop community is in mourning following the passing of Magoo, half of the acclaimed duo Timbaland & Magoo, who reportedly died at the age of 50.

Born Melvin Barcliff, his death was announced on Sunday through heartfelt social media tributes from fellow musicians and longtime collaborators Digital Black and Ginuwine.

Digital Black, renowned for his contributions to R&B groups Dru Hill and Playa, expressed his disbelief through an Instagram post. Accompanied by an image of Timbaland and Magoo's 1997 debut album "Welcome to Our World," he stated, “Man can’t believe this RIH Magoo damn big bro wasn't ready for this at all #superfriends."

Ginuwine, famed for chart-toppers like "Pony," shared his emotions on Instagram, “I don’t even know how to say anything at this point, I have lost 3 friends now within a month to LIFE and it’s due date...this dude, always pushed me...I will miss you maganooo...totally one of the best ever in my eyes always pressing forward...I will see you soon bro...I’m truly efd up right now foreal life is crazy… I hate going through this and losing people we love sometimes it makes you feel like you don't wanna feel the pain so you wanna be gone also… pain oh man...blessings to the family all of my condolences.”

Magoo's contributions were intricately woven into the creative collective Da Bassment Cru, which also included Timbaland and Missy Elliott, among others.

Emerging from Norfolk, Virginia, the dynamic duo initially connected as teenagers before ascending to prominence in the music landscape. Their legacy was solidified with the release of their debut album "Welcome to Our World" in 1997, yielding the chart-topping single "Up Jumps da Boogie."

Subsequent albums ensued, including "Indecent Proposal" in 2001 and "Under Construction, Part II" in 2003 — the latter serving as a sequel to Elliott's album from the prior year.

Magoo's musical legacy lives on through the hits of Timbaland & Magoo, such as "Up Jumps Da Boogie" (featuring Elliott and Aaliyah), "Clock Strikes" (featuring Mad Skillz), "Luv 2 Luv Ya (Remix)" (featuring Shaunta and Playa) and "All Y’all" (featuring Tweet and Sebastian). He also made notable appearances on tracks like Missy Elliott’s "Beep Me 911," Ginuwine’s "G Thang" and a remix of Jodeci’s "What About Us."

While Timbaland ventured into production and collaborations with luminaries like Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, and Madonna, Magoo's voice and presence continue to hold a pivotal role in the hip-hop narrative.

As the music community grapples with this profound loss, the circumstances surrounding Magoo's passing remain undisclosed. Both Timbaland and Elliott, his close artistic companions, have yet to comment on the tragedy.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Beloved 'Cha Cha Slide' Creator, DJ Casper, Passes Away at 58 After Cancer Battle

Photo Credit DJ Casper/Instagram
DJ Casper, the visionary behind the beloved dance anthem "Cha Cha Slide," has passed away at the age of 58, marking the end of a seven-year battle with cancer.

The news of Casper's demise was conveyed by his wife, Kim, through a statement shared with ABC 7 Chicago. In her heartfelt tribute, Kim described him as a "fun-loving, giving person" and expressed the deep loss felt by all who knew him.

"He was a genuine, family-oriented man," Kim shared, underscoring his strong affinity for the city of Chicago. "He loved Chicago with all his heart. He will be greatly missed."

Born Willie Perry Jr. in Englewood, Chicago, Casper acquired his moniker due to his penchant for wearing white attire during his performances. A pivotal moment in his career emerged in 1998 when he penned the first part of the iconic "Cha Cha Slide" for his nephew, who worked as a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness.

The song's simple yet irresistible instructions, such as "Slide to the left" and "reverse," rapidly gained traction in exercise classes and school gymnasiums. This led Casper to release a follow-up version titled "Casper Slide Pt. 2" in 2000, further cementing his place in music history.
Reflecting on the enduring success of his creation, Casper mused in a 2018 interview with Vanity Fair, "Well, actually, I'm not really surprised. The song got real hot around 2004. And, I mean, today, they've been playing it like it's brand-new. You can hear it in every stadium, every sporting event. They played it at the Olympics. You hear it everywhere, so I'm not really surprised. I'm just happy it's still going, but I'm not surprised."

Even in the face of adversity, Casper maintained a positive outlook. In 2016, he was diagnosed with both liver and kidney cancer. By 2018, the illness had gone into remission, a testament to his resilience. He dedicated his time to visiting hospitals, engaging with fellow cancer patients, and spreading positivity and encouragement, as revealed in a 2019 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times.

"I'm here. If God says he's got something else for me to do, he's going to let me continue to see what I'm doing," he said, encapsulating his enduring spirit.

In 2021, marking the 20th anniversary of the dance's creation, Casper orchestrated a global fundraising initiative known as the "Dime Drive." Participants would perform the signature "slide left/slide right/criss-cross" dance he pioneered and donate ten cents toward cancer research, emphasizing his unwavering commitment to the cause.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Las Vegas Police Pursue New Leads with Search Warrant in Tupac Shakur Case

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has executed a search warrant in Henderson, Nevada, as part of the ongoing Tupac Shakur homicide investigation.

The warrant's execution signifies a renewed focus on the case, which has captivated the music world since the legendary hip-hop artist's tragic death in 1996.

The LVMPD released a concise statement acknowledging the search warrant: "LVMPD can confirm a search warrant was served in Henderson, Nevada on July 17, 2023, as part of the ongoing Tupac Shakur homicide investigation. We will have no further comment at this time."

Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting after stopping at a red light near the Las Vegas strip. Despite medical efforts, Shakur succumbed to his injuries one week later. The case remains unsolved, fueling numerous conspiracy theories.

The search warrant was executed at an undisclosed location in Henderson, Nevada, with the LVMPD providing limited details. Nevada's lack of a statute of limitations for homicide cases ensures that investigations can continue indefinitely.

The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, overseen by the late rapper's sister, has not issued a statement regarding the recent developments.

Tupac Shakur's impact on the music industry is undeniable. He achieved five No. 1 albums, including "Me Against the World" in 1995 and "All Eyez on Me" in 1996. Tupac's influence extended beyond his record sales, as he became a symbol in the East Coast-West Coast rivalry, engaging in a public feud with Christopher Wallace, known as the Notorious B.I.G., who was fatally shot in 1997.

Recognized as one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time, he received six Grammy nominations and was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Houston Rapper Big Pokey Dies After Collapsing on Stage

Screengrab Instagram/@BunB
The rap world is mourning the loss of Big Pokey after the Houston hip-hop star collapsed on stage during a performance in Beaumont, Texas. It was confirmed on Sunday that Big Pokey, whose real name was Milton Powell, passed away at St. Elizabeth Hospital after losing consciousness at Pour 09 Bar late Saturday night. He was 45.

Justice of The Peace Tom Gillam III confirmed the rapper's death to KFDM, though the cause of death remains unknown pending an autopsy.

The news sent shockwaves through the internet as fans, friends, and fellow artists took to social media to express their grief. UGK rapper Bun B shared a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, calling Big Pokey "one of the most naturally talented artists in the city" and praising his humility and impact on the music scene.

Fellow rapper Trae Tha Truth also expressed his sorrow, sharing a post on Instagram where he described his disbelief and promised to honor Big Pokey's memory.

Big Pokey gained prominence as a member of the Screwed Up Click, a collective of artists associated with influential DJ Screw and his distinct chopped-and-screwed style of music. Known for his deep, gritty voice and captivating delivery, he made significant contributions to Houston's vibrant hip-hop scene.

Big Pokey released several solo albums, including "Hardest Pit in the Litter" and "Da Sky's Da Limit," which showcased his lyrical prowess and street storytelling.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Watch: Tupac Shakur Honored with Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in Posthumous Tribute

Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, solidifying his status as an icon whose influence continues to reverberate through the generations.Ana Martinez, the producer of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, expressed the impact of Shakur's legacy, stating, "Tupac Shakur was a rapper, actor, activist, poet, and revolutionary. This iconic artist has remained part of the zeitgeist for decades after his passing and will continue to be an important cultural figure for many years to come. As one of L.A.'s own, Tupac's star will surely join the list of the most visited stars."

The star unveiling ceremony, hosted by emcee Big Boy, featured filmmaker Allen Hughes, director of the acclaimed docuseries "Dear Mama: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur." Sekyiwa "Set" Shakur, his sister, accepted the star on behalf of the family.Shakur, known internationally for his multifaceted talent, transcended the boundaries of art and activism. In his brief but prolific career, he sold over 75 million records worldwide, solidifying his status as one of hip-hop's most iconic figures. Both his albums, "All Eyez on Me" and "Greatest Hits," achieved Diamond certification, with sales surpassing ten million copies each.

Shakur's legacy extends beyond music, as he made a significant impact in the film industry with memorable performances in movies such as "Juice," "Poetic Justice," and "Above The Rim," showcasing his versatility as an actor.

His cultural impact has been recognized through various museum exhibits, including the Grammy Museum's "All Eyez on Me: The Writings of Tupac Shakur" and the thought-provoking museum experience "Tupac Shakur: Wake Me When I'm Free" in Los Angeles.

Watch the video of the star unveiling ceremony below.


Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Jazz Icon Reuben Wilson, Who Impacted Nas and the World of Hip Hop, Dies at 88

Courtesy Photo Francis Wolff/© Blue Note Records

Reuben Wilson, the renowned jazz organist known for his infectious grooves and pioneering contributions to soul and acid jazz, has died at the age of 88.

His son, Reuben Reuel Wilson, confirmed the news in a heartfelt post on Twitter, stating, "My father, Reuben Wilson, jazz mf LEGEND, passed away very early this morning. Even though I've been preparing for this for a lil while, you're never truly ready when it happens. Gonna miss you dad, love you always."No official cause of death was given for Wilson, who died in Harlem. However, his May 26 demise followed a long battle with dementia, and he had recently been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

Born on April 9, 1935, in Mounds, Oklahoma, he grew up to become one of the most influential organists in the history of jazz. Standing at 6 ft. 5 inches, Wilson's commanding presence behind the Hammond B-3 organ and his funk-infused recordings for Blue Note Records in the late 1960s and early '70s left an indelible mark on the genre, inspiring acid jazz DJs and hip-hop artists worldwide."Reuben Wilson helped usher in what we now call Soul Jazz," Pete Fallico, founder of the Jazz Organ Fellowship Hall of Fame, told NPR. "His music was revitalized in the '90s when DJs like Gilles Petersen started playing all these old funky tunes he had recorded decades earlier."

Wilson's journey to musical greatness began in Pasadena, California, where his family moved during the Dust Bowl era. While pursuing a career as a professional heavyweight boxer and sparring partner for future champion Floyd Patterson, his love for music, sparked by encounters with boogie-woogie sounds and pianist Sonny Clark, eventually led him to embrace the Hammond organ.

In 1966, Wilson relocated to New York City, immersing himself in the vibrant jazz scene. Late-night jam sessions in Harlem clubs and a steady gig with saxophonist Willis "Gator" Jackson propelled his career forward and caught the attention of Blue Note Records' Francis Wolff. The resulting five-album deal showcased Wilson's unique fusion of jazz and funk, creating a sound that resonated with audiences and fellow musicians.

While Wilson faced challenges in the 1980s and '90s due to the rise of synthesizers and changing musical trends, his legacy found new life in hip-hop.

During the 1990s, Wilson's recordings from the late 1960s and early '70s resurfaced and became sought-after samples for hip-hop producers. One notable example is Nas' 1994 critically acclaimed debut album, Illmatic, which prominently featured a sample from Wilson's 1971 composition "We're in Love." This usage solidified his presence in the hip-hop community and introduced his distinctive sound to a new generation of listeners.

Wilson's collaboration with rapper Guru on the Jazzmatazz series further exemplified his impact on hip-hop, bridging the gap between jazz and hip-hop by featuring renowned jazz musicians collaborating with hip-hop artists. Wilson's contributions showcased the seamless blending of genres and the relevance of his music in a contemporary context.

Wilson continued to perform and record well into his seventies, leaving behind a discography of at least 17 albums that showcase his undeniable talent.

He is survived by his second wife, Daphne, their son Reuben, and his son Roderick Wilson from his first marriage to singer Faye Emma Smith Wilson.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Third Arrest Made in Jam Master Jay's 2002 Murder Case

A third suspect has been indicted in the murder of rap legend Jam Master Jay.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have filed murder charges against Jay Bryant, a Queens man, in
connection with the 2002 killing of pioneering hip-hop DJ Jam Master Jay, also known as Jason Mizell. This brings the total number of individuals accused of involvement in the slaying to three.

Bryant, 49, who was already in custody on a separate drug-related indictment, faces charges of murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and other drug-trafficking counts. His arraignment has not yet been scheduled, and his attorney, Cรฉsar de Castro, stated that Bryant intends to plead not guilty.De Castro expressed skepticism about the indictment, highlighting the distinction between securing an indictment in a secret grand jury and proving the charges in court. He emphasized the importance of meeting the burden of proof during the trial.

Jam Master Jay achieved global fame and admiration for his musical contributions to the pioneering rap group Run-DMC, which also included Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels. The group emerged in the 1980s and played a crucial role in shaping the sound and style of hip-hop music, blending rap with rock and showcasing a distinctive street fashion aesthetic.

In August 2020, New York City and federal authorities announced murder charges against two other men, Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington, attributing the fatal shooting to a cocaine deal gone awry. Prosecutors alleged that Jordan and Washington "executed" Mizell, 37, after he attempted to exclude them from a multistate narcotics transaction involving several kilograms of cocaine. Court documents revealed that Mizell had received approximately 10 kilos of cocaine on consignment from a Maryland supplier just months before his murder.

According to the filing, Jordan and Washington were initially supposed to be Mizell's partners in the drug deal, but a dispute arose. The nature of the dispute was not specified, but Mizell's threat to exclude them triggered a fatal chain of events.

Jordan, 39, and Washington, 59, have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial in January 2024.

Prosecutors allege that on October 20, 2002, Bryant, Washington and Jordan entered Mizell's recording studio on Merrick Boulevard in Queens. Washington allegedly brandished a gun and ordered an individual in the studio to lie on the floor. Jordan approached Mizell and fired two close-range shots, one of which fatally struck him in the head.

Seth D. DuCharme, the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, characterized the incident as a cold-blooded murder, stating that the perpetrators "walked in and murdered him in cold blood" when Jordan and Washington were initially charged in 2020.

According to the indictment, Bryant was observed entering the building just before the shooting, and clothing containing his DNA was found at the crime scene. The indictment further claims that Bryant confessed to participating in the murder, even going so far as to inform someone that he was the shooter. However, prosecutors dispute this assertion, believing that Jordan fired the fatal shot.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Bill Lee, Respected Jazz Bassist and Composer for Spike Lee, Dies at 94

Renowned jazz bassist Bill Lee, known for his collaborations with artists like Bob Dylan and Duke Ellington and for composing scores for his son Spike Lee's films before their artistic collaboration faltered, passed away at his Brooklyn home on Wednesday (May 24) at the age of 94.Spike Lee confirmed the news on Instagram, sharing poignant portraits of his late father along with a link to The New York Times obituary. Bill's musical genius graced several of Spike's films, including "She's Gotta Have It" (1986) and "Do the Right Thing" (1989).

Bill began his career as a session musician in Atlanta and Chicago before moving to New York in 1959. His bass can be heard on Bob Dylan's haunting ballad "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," and he collaborated with Max Roach as a composer on multiple albums.

In the 1990s, a rift formed between Spike and Bill due to unresolved financial and family disputes. However, they found moments of reconciliation at special events commemorating their shared cinematic achievements, such as the 20th-anniversary screening of "Do the Right Thing" in 2009 and a 25th-anniversary gathering in 2014.

Bill's musical contributions extended beyond his collaboration with his son, leaving an indelible mark on the realms of jazz and cinema. He lent his extraordinary talents to over 250 record albums, working with icons like Aretha Franklin, Simon and Garfunkel and Harry Belafonte.

Surviving Bill Lee are his wife, three sons, a daughter, a brother and two grandchildren. Despite their differences, Spike Lee acknowledged his father's profound influence, stating, "Everything I know about jazz I got from my father. I saw his integrity, how he was not going to play just any kind of music, no matter how much money he could make."