Although 2008 is a year we can remember, it's also a year we can mourn the great losses of talented individuals of hip-hop. RapReviews would like to use this editorial to introduce the readers who may have heard or never heard of these artists/DJs who were gone before their time. We would also like to send our condolences to the families, friends, crews, and fans worldwide. Rest in Peace, we'll see you all when we get there.
Eric "O.G. Style" Woods (1970-2008)
Who is He: Eric Woods b/k/a O.G. Style is a Houston native who have been rapping since 1986. His first stage name was Prince Ezzy-E before he changed it to what the world would know today as O.G. Style. O.G. Style would form a group with the late producer DJ Big Boss while changing his moniker to Original E. The duo then signed to Rap-A-Lot Records to release their debut, and only, album "I Know How to Play 'Em," which had their hit single "Catch 'Em Slippin," in 1991. After DJ Boss left the group, Woods changed his name back to O.G. Style while releasing many solo albums and works until one week before his untimely death in January 2008. On January 2, Woods suffered from a sudden brain aneurysm and has passed away a day later at the age of 37. His recent album is still being completed by his son, Eric Jr., and a local rapper named Smurf. His influence in Texas is highly significant in rappers such as Bun B and other Houston artists. His memory and his music will be kept alive by fans nationwide.
Songs Recommendation: "Catch 'Em Slippin'," "Ain't We Funky," "Gangsta," "Steppin' On Toes"
Stephen "Static/Major" Garrett (1974-2008)
Who is He: Stephen "Static/Major" Garrett is one of the most talented artists in the music industry, being a protégé of DeVante Swing of Jodeci and a member of R&B group Playa. But Garrett is more known as a talented songwriter penning hits for artists such as Ginuwine ("Pony"), Aaliyah ("Are You That Somebody?"), Diddy ("Tell Me" featuring Christina Aguilera), and Pretty Ricky ("On the Hotline"). Static/Major also appeared on hits such as Jay-Z's "Change the Game," David Banner's "Crank it Up", and posthumously on Lil Wayne's "Lollipop." Static/Major was working on his debut album "Suppertime" early in the year until he felt ill for unknown reasons. He was then taken to his hometown in Louisville, Kentucky to a nearby hospital where he would eventually pass away at the age of 33 on February 25, 2008. The official cause of death varies from cerebral aneurysm to complications from a medical procedure, but Static's musical presence never changes as he is always remembered for his then-underrated flair that will be heard forever.
Songs Recommendation: "I Got My," "Bus Stop Breezy," "'Til The Wheels Fall Off," "Deeper," and "Your Valentine"
Kenny "KL" Lou (19??-2008)
Who is He: KL was a member of the Queensbridge, New York rap group Screwball. They were remembered for their hits "H-O-S-T-Y-L-E" and DJ Premier-produced "F.A.Y.B.A.N." from their album "Y2K the Album," released on Tommy Boy Records in 2000. Along with the other members, KL was known form rhyming aggressively that is rarely duplicated by others. The group followed with two albums between 2001 and 2004, "Loyalty" and "Screwed Up." They also worked with many legendary producers such as Pete Rock, the Beatnuts, Marley Marl, Ayatollah, and A Kid Called Roots. KL continued recording until his asthma attack got the best of him as he passed away on March 28, 2008. The group members keep KL's name alive by continuing to release songs together or individually, further spreading the mission of unity for the late KL.
Songs Recommendation: "H-O-S-T-Y-L-E," "F.A.Y.B.A.N.," "Loyalty," "Seen it All," and "Street Life"
Tero "Camu Tao" Smith (1977-2008)
Who is He: Tero "Camu Tao" Smith is a rapper and producer who was signed to the Definitive Jux label. He was ½ of the S.A. Smash duo with rapper Metro, a part of the underground hip-hop supergroup The Weathermen, a member of the music collective Cardboard City, a member of the Central Services production team with El-P, a part of the MHz crew, who made one album during the three-day creative session, and was a solo artist, as well. On May 25, 2008, Smith died after a two-year battle with lung cancer. Despite going through such hefty challenge, Smith still kept rhyming and doing what he loves the most, making music. His name is remembered in the underground hip-hop community as his name is also introduced to those who are curious to hear his unique style.
Songs Recommendation: "Hold the Floor," "Oxycontin," "Wireless," "Homesickness," and "Magnetics"
Khia "DJ K-Swift" Edgerton (1980-2008)
Who is She: Khia Edgerton, a/k/a "Club Queen K-Swift," is known as the first Baltimore's female DJ and the first female mix show coordinator in America. K-Swift began DJing at the age of 11 and she would eventually catch the attention of Baltimore's 92Q Jams radio station as they offered her an internship position at the age of 18. She then began producing for radio shows such as "The Mark Young Show" and "Neke @ Night Show" Two years later, she became the first female DJ on the "Q," as she would play at all of the hottest clubs and parties in Baltimore. She created her own production and management company "Club Queen Enetertainment" while also selling mixtapes on her website and stores across America. On July 21, 2008, K-Swift was pronounced dead after she was found drowned in an above ground pool during a pool party she hosted. After her death, communities in Baltimore and nationwide mourned over her and also remembered the legacy she has made for their city and the history of DJing.
Isaac Hayes (1942-2008)
Who is He: Due to the inheritance Hayes has created in hip-hop music, I figure his music speaks for itself.
Songs Recommendation: "Walk on By," "The Look of Love," "Shaft," "Do Your Thing," and "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic"
Johnny "J" Jackson (1969-2008)
Who is He: Mexican-born and Los Angeles-raised Johnny "J" was known as a talented producer, songwriter, and occasionally a rapper. J got his first taste of fame after producing the 1990 platinum single "Knockin' Boots" by rapper Candyman. Years later, J met up with the late rapper 2Pac and produced "Pour Out a Little Liquor" for 2Pac's group Thug Life. He then produced on many of 2Pac's multi-platinum projects, including "Me Against the World," the majority of "All Eyez on Me," and the posthumous "Until the End of Time," carried by the title track single which he also produced. J also had time to create his solo album "I Gotta Be Me" in 1995. After 2Pac's death in 1996, J stayed close with his label Interscope and Death Row, producing unreleased tracks and remixes of the slain rapper's works. He later produced for numerous artists such as the Outlawz, Bizzy Bone, Tatyana Ali, Tyrese, and CJ Mac. On October 3, 2008, Johnny J died of an apparent suicide while serving a sentence for DUI in California. He allegedly jumped off an upper tier in prison and fell to his death. Although Johnny J. is physically gone, his music is still present today in airwaves worldwide. Johnny J. will be forever known as the talented producer who was gone too soon.
"Hit 'Em Up" (2Pac), "Knockin' Boots" (Candyman), "Get Away from Me," "Until the End of Time" (2Pac), "Thugz Cry" (Bizzy Bone)
Chris "Jax" Thurston (19??-2008)
Who is He: Chris "Jax" Thurston was a protégé of the legendary rap group A Tribe Called Quest member Phife Dawg. Thurston was a well-respected rapper from the Atlanta underground hip-hop rap scene, as he was also a member of the group Binkis Recs, which included their famed member DJ Drama. On November 4, 2008, Thurston suffered a cardiac arrest and died while performing in Atlanta. Thurston isn't well-known on the mainstream tip, but is always kept in memory by fans and mainstream rap artists, as well.
Songs Recommendation: "Countdown," "Life's A Game," "Psycho Jax," "Jax Vorhees," "I'm Serious"
Eric "MC" Breed (1971-2008)
Who is He: MC Breed is known as the first commercially successful rapper from the Midwest. This Flint, Michigan-based MC is known for his 1991 debut album, "MC Breed and the D.F.C.," which spawned the hit single "Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin'." He is also known for his 1993 hit "Gotta Get Mine," featuring the late Tupac Shakur, off of his album "The New Breed." He would go on to have a very extensive discography and an extended career that was at times successful, but he never fully broke into the mainstream. However, his impact in rap is deeply rooted in many rappers' influence, truly revering him as "your favorite rapper's rapper." On November 22, 2008, Breed reportedly died from kidney failure in his sleep at his friend's house in Michigan. Before his untimely death, Breed was said to be working on a documentary DVD entitled "Where is MC Breed?" and a new album titled, "The Original Breed: Swag Heavy," which is half-finished as of September 2008.
Songs Recommendation: "Ain't No Future In Yo' Frontin'," "I Gotta Get Mine," "This is How We Do It," "Guerrilla Pimpin'" and "Rule No. 1"
Party Arty (1977-2008)
Party Arty is remembered for first appearing as a protege of A.G., of Show Biz & A.G., then appearing on many D.I.T.C. releases. He later released singles with his partner-in-rhyme D-Flow as Ghetto Dwellas on Get Dirty Records. Arty has worked with many well-known and legendary producers such as DJ Premier, Madlib, Show and Lord Finesse, as well as appearing on many albums by Fat Joe and O.C. Arty is the second member of the D.I.T.C. to have untimely passed away. The first is the late Big L, with whom Arty has appeared with alongside Lord Finesse, Microphone Nut, Y.U., Grand Daddy I.U. and Jay-Z on "Da Graveyard," from L's 1995 critically-acclaimed album "Lifestyles Ov Da Poor and Dangerous." He has passed away on December 4, 2008, from unknown health complications.
Songs Recommendations: "Da Graveyard," "Mott Haven," ""Everyday," "Shine My Way," and "Born to Live"
Other notable late non-hip-hop individuals:
Andre Young, Jr.
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