10 Biggest News Stories of 2009 #9 – Death in Hip-Hop

The year 2009 saw the Hip-Hop world get devastated by several unexpected and tragic deaths.

 

  Francis M, a trailblazing figure for music and fashion in the Philippines, died in March after a long battle with leukemia.

 

Powered by the hit song “Kababayan (My Countrymen),” Francis dropped Yo!, the first commercially released Hip-Hop album in the Philippines. His work continued throughout the 90s, inspiring nationalistic pride in youth and awareness through his social and political commentary.

 

Last year, Francis M was diagnosed with leukemia and kept fans updated until the day before his death via his website. Francis M is survived by his wife Pia Arroyo and 8 children. He was 44 years old.

 

Dolla (Roderick Anthony Burton II), 21, was a rising emcee signed to Akon’s Konvict Music label. Previously a model for lines like Sean John, Dolla had gradually raised his profile courtesy of the 2007 single “Who the F**k Is That?” featuring T-Pain, and last year’s “Make a Toast” featuring Lil Wayne. The young emcee was in Los Angeles on May 18 to finish recording his debut LP, tentatively titled A Dolla and a Dream. While waiting at P.F. Chang’s restaurant, Dolla had a confrontation in a bathroom stall with 23-year old Aubrey Robinson, a self-styled music promoter whom Dolla and his entourage allegedly attacked two weeks prior at Atlanta’s Platinum 21 gentleman’s club. Details next vary. Prosecutors allege that Berry followed Dolla outside, and discharged 4-5 shots from his 9MM handgun. Dolla was hit multiple times in the back, and succumbed to a fatal bullet piercing to his heart. Aubrey’s defense attorney Howard Price claimed his client was attempting to flee, and fired his weapon when Dolla accosted him outside with his friend Sidiq Abawi and cousin Wilbert Robinson. In addition, Price claims that his client believed Dolla was going for a weapon despite being unarmed. Aubrey has pleaded not guilty, and faces life in prison if convicted on one count of murder and two counts of assault with a deadly firearm.

 

On April 4, producer Tony D was killed when his jeep flipped over after striking a cemetery fence in Hamilton, New Jersey. Tony D (Anthony Depula), was not wearing a seatbelt upon impact, and a number of local residents tried to remove him from the wrecked jeep before medical personnel arrived. He was pronounced dead at Capital Health Systems due to trauma on the neck. Over his long career, Tony D produced tracks for DJ Muggs, Pace Won, King Sun, The Outsidaz, and the classic Poor Righteous Teachers single “Rock Dis Funky Joint.”

 

Founding Slum Village member Baatin (Titus Glover) passed away on August 1 of an apparent drug overdose. Baatin’s eccentric personality and off-color rhymes was an essential ingredient in Slum Village’s first two influential LPs Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1) and Fantastic Vol. 2 (Vol. 2). Along with partners T3 and Jay Dee (J Dilla), the trio laid a strong foundation for Detroit’s growing Hip-Hop scene in the 90s, inspiring the city’s next generation of stars in Black Milk and Guilty Simpson. Baatin had left the group in 2004 due to a schizophrenia diagnosis, but had returned this year to the group as confirmed by T3. “The whole thing is I felt like the fans wanted Baatin to come back. And I felt like I really didn’t want to do another album without Baatin. I wanted his energy,” T3 told AllHipHop.com in July. “I found him and he was ready. He seemed like he had his stuff together.” Baatin was 35-years-old.

 

 DJ AM (Adam Goldstein) was found dead in his NYC apartment on August 28 of a drug overdose. Friends and family were worried about AM when no one could reach him for several days. Police and medial authorities found him unresponsive inside the home and pronounced him dead at the scene. In September 2008, AM and close friend Travis Baker survived suffered burns but survived a deadly South Carolina plane crash that left 4 people dead. AM had previously worked on albums for Madonna, Will Smith, and Papa Roach, in addition to concert duties for Jay-Z. He was posthumously honored as DJ of the Year for 2009 at the BET Hip-Hop Awards. DJ AM was 36-years-old. The New York medical examiner officially determined his cause of death as an accidental overdose resulting from acute intoxication from a mix of prescription drugs and cocaine.

 

 X-Ecutioners member and renowned turntablist Grand Master Roc Raida (Anthony Williams) lost his life on September 19 following cardiac arrest complications from a freak martial arts accident. Raida began DJ’ing at the age of 10, and received international recognition after winning the 1995 DMC World DJ Championship. His cut techniques were featured on the classic O.C. single “Time’s Up,” and he has a total of 10 albums to his name with between solo offerings and work with the X-Ecutioners. Raida also served as Busta Rhymes’ tour DJ, and was enshrined in the DMC Hall of Fame in 1999. Roc Raida was 37-years-old at the time of death, and is survived by a wife and four children. “I just wanna thank everyone 4 ur love and support and ur prayers,” Busta Rhymes Tweeted. “We will never let ur name die Roc…We love u and will 4ever miss u…RIP…I was told 2day, We r loosing [sic] all of these great people this year as a result of God calling his army because something is about 2 go down!”

 

 On October 2, DJ Premier broke the news that pioneer Hip-Hop radio figure Mr. Magic (John Rivas) had succumbed to a heart attack. With the 1981 debut of the now legendary Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack show on NYC’s WHBI-FM, Magic was the first man to bring Hip-Hop music and culture to a major station. The show featured Marley Marl on the turntables, and played a significant hand in popularizing the seminal Bridge Wars. Magic and Marley backed Queens’ Juice Crew, while then upstart rival Kool DJ Red Alert on WRKS-FM lent support to Boogie Down Productions. Mr. Magic’s influence extended well into the new millennium. The trailblazer was heard playing himself on the fictional station Wildstyle of the blockbuster game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. In addition, Mr. Magic regularly appeared on New York’s Hot 97, most noticeably spinning 80s Hip-Hop classics on Christmas Eve. Mr. Magic’s name continues to live on with his peers, and numerous song references from Nas (“Halftime”), Tupac (“Old School”), The Notorious B.I.G. (“Juicy”), Whodini (“Magic’s Wand”), and Mos Def. Mr. Magic was 53-years-old.

 

 Fat Joe affiliate and former K.A.R. (Kill All Rats) member Mike Beck was shot and killed in Brooklyn during an alleged robbery attempt. While working with Fat Joe and Pistol Pete, Beck contributed to the “300 Brolic” remix, and featured on the K.A.R. mixtape with Jadakiss, DJ Khaled, Sheek Louch, Hell Rell, and Ace Hood. At the time of his death, Beck was looking to move his career forward as a solo artist, citing creative differences with Joe and Pete. The murder remains unsolved.

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