I’m once again forced to post that another emcee from my childhood has passed away. Grand Daddy I.U., real name Ayub Bey, was only 54 years old. The long time Juice Crew affiliate both benefited from and was at times overshadowed by association with that group. He was often compared to Big Daddy Kane for both his vocal tone and attire (the man was immaculately fly in public), and may have been an uncredited producer on many of Kane’s records to boot. His officially credited studio work behind the boards includes Das EFX, Heltah Skeltah and Biz Markie among others, but when I think of him I always remember him first for emceeing classic tracks like “Something News.”
“Grab a seat and take heed to the entrepreneur/for, sure, it’s raw, literature hardcore.” His gift of gab extended beyond his own tracks, and again seems to have been a point of controversy in his career. I.U. felt robbed of both credit and royalties for songs he ghostwrote for Biz Markie and Roxanne Shante. In fact he was so disenchanted by industry rule #4,080 that he took nearly a decade off from music between the 1990’s and 2000’s. Thankfully he didn’t retire from the game entirely — he even made a bit of a comeback in 2015 with “P.I.M.P. (Paper Is My Priority).” One standout track from that album was “She Said” featuring fellow veteran emcee Sadat X.
Word of his passing first broke on social media as friend and fellow emcee/producer Pete Rock let the world know Ayub Bey was no longer with us in the physical form. TMZ reported that he passed away peacefully in his sleep, which I take some small comfort from, but I’d still rather he was here to pass on his knowledge and wisdom to the next generation of rap artists. Long overlooked even by ardent Juice Crew fans, I can only hope that with his passing he’ll finally get the flowers he deserved while still alive. My condolences to the friends, family and fans of Grand Daddy I.U. Rest In Power brother.