When it comes to race and the stand your ground law in Georgia, there seems to be a separate level of proof that must be reached. This week the trial ended for Jessie Murray, a Black man who was beaten while trying to rescue his wife from four drunken White men. During the beating, his gun went off killing Nathaniel Adams, a former police officer. The judge in the case felt that Murray was not in fear for his life when being beaten by four drunk White men in Georgia.
In denying Murray the use of the stand your ground defense, the judge stated, “nor does it appear to this court that the other men in the vicinity were acting in such a way that would cause the defendant to reasonably believe that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or a third party.”
Noted social activist attorney Mawuli Davis, partner Davis Bozeman Law Firm, along with attorney Miya Griggs was part of the legal team that defended Jessie Murray on charges of malice murder and aggravated assault in the death of Adams. This week Murray reached a plea deal for five years of probation on lesser firearms charges and the dropping of the murder charges. Davis issued the following statement to rolling out:
“On June 28, 2017, after 2 and 1/2 days of trial, the State offered to dismiss the murder charges against Mr. Jessie Murray, if he would accept a probated sentence to a firearms charge. Although Mr. Murray believed that he was justified in his actions on the night of the tragic incident, he elected to accept the offer and not risk a possible 55-year prison sentence. We believe that the offer of probation and dismissal of the murder charges make clear that the charges against Mr. Murray should never have been brought. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where a person being physically assaulted by 3 men and surrounded by 2 others does not have the right to “stand their ground” and use deadly force to defend their own life.
“The cross-examination of the State’s witnesses in the trial not only called into serious question their credibility, but also confirmed the fact that Mr. Murray never threw a punch, pointed a weapon, or brandished a gun before or during this violent attack against him.
“We remain convinced that the two factors that led to Mr. Murray being charged were:
2) The deceased was a former police officer with friends who worked in the police department investigating the incident.
“The men who attacked Mr. Murray, including one of them who even shot at Mr. Murray as he attempted to run to safety, have never been arrested or charged.
“The overwhelming support and demand for justice by activists around the country have helped illustrate the inequity that continues to exist in our criminal justice system for people of color in general, but Black people in particular. I am truly thankful to the team of paralegals, legal interns, and co-counsel, Attorney Miya Griggs, for their extraordinary work in being prepared to present Mr. Murray’s life or death experience to the jury.
“We garnered all of the firm’s resources to mount this defense in this fight for justice. I am so proud to be a part of a firm in which everyone worked relentlessly to bring Mr. Murray home to his family and collectively we were successful.” –Mawuli Davis partner Davis Bozeman Law Firm
New York, NY – Two iconic figures of Hip Hop culture will be laid to rest on Thursday (June 29) in New York City — Prodigy and Educated Rapper. As the Hip Hop community continues to recover from the shocking news that the Mobb Deep MC has passed away at the ripe age of 42, a celebration of the rap legend’s life will go down at Frank E. Campbell on Madison Ave., which is also known as “The Funeral Chapel.” Judging by the outpouring of love he received on social media last week, it’s safe to assume his funeral will be overflowing with those wanting to pay their respects, especially since it’s open to the public from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
Revered radio personality Kool DJ Red Alert was exposed to Mobb Deep’s music early in the duo’s career, and marveled at how Havoc and Prodigy were so perfectly put together.
“I could never credit myself for being the first to play their music,” Red Alert tells HipHopDX. “But I can say he was an intricate part of the culture. He and his partner Havoc brought out something people needed to hear in the ’90s. It was well produced and they were well presented as a unit. He may be gone, but his sound, soul and spirit remain.
“It’s going to be a packed funeral because Queensbridge is going to come out in solidarity and sincerity,” he adds. “I respect Queensbridge and they will say goodbye to their fallen soldier. Much respect to Prodigy.”
As fate would have it, Educated Rapper of UTFO, the group responsible for the classic 1984 single “Roxanne, Roxanne,” is also being laid to rest on the same day. The New York native lost his life to cancer on June 3. Not even his closest friends, including fellow UTFO members Mix Master Ice and Kangol Kid, knew he was sick until his last days.
“He intentionally didn’t share his situation,” Kangol tells DX. “We found out days before he passed. We were told he was in the hospital and he had been there for about a month. Mixmaster Ice and E were friends before the group formed. Sadly, E did not share with Ice his situation as close as they were. He was a very prideful man and wanted to deal with it on his own.”
But they didn’t let that happen. For the first time in 20 years, all four original members of UTFO were in the same room the Thursday before he died, which Kangol likened to the scene in Straight Outta Compton when N.W.A was saying goodbye to Eazy-E.
“As I’m driving to the hospital, I said to myself, ‘I am walking into a scene from Straight Outta Compton.’ I felt it. I know that I’m walking into my own version of the same scene. I knew what I was preparing myself for. I saw him in the room, and he was skin and bones. There were tubes everywhere.”
Kangol began to rap the first few words of “Roxanne, Roxanne” to E, but he didn’t respond. “We formed a circle around him and held his hand,” he says. “Ice led the prayer and as we were reminiscing about the past, we were laughing and E wakes up, so I said to him, ‘The band’s back together.’ He smiled. Even with a tube in his mouth, we could see him smiling. He died a couple days later, but we all thought maybe that’s what he was waiting for.”
While Kangol understands Prodigy is more well known in the Hip Hop community, he hopes it doesn’t diminish Educated Rapper’s services.
“Prodigy is more popular at this point,” he says. “Of course, I don’t want to compare. We lost two legends in the game. I don’t think E even understood who he was to this culture. It’s like he was allowing himself to disappear quietly. He will be missed.”
New York, NY – Few artists are important enough to change the game simply by returning to it, but Eric B. & Rakim might just fit that bill.
The legendary Hip Hop duo joined Hot 97’s Ebro In The Morning on Thursday (June 22) to announce that they would be reuniting for a very special show to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their Paid In Full album.
A special occasion calls for a very special venue, and Eric B. & Rakim will be performing their iconic album at the Apollo Theater in New York on July 7.
And it’s not just Eric B. & Rakim who’ll be on stage. Answering host Laura Stylez’s question about surprises for the night, Eric B. said “We got so many people, we might not even get any records off. We tryna bring the world in with us.”
The one-night-only celebration will mark the pair’s first performance together in over 20 years, since they toured in support of their 1992 record Don’t Sweat The Technique.
Watch Eric B. & Rakim make the big announcement in the video below:
Las Vegas, NV – Hip Hop just took a major blow after learning the one and only Prodigy of Mobb Deep was found dead in Las Vegas, according to multiple sources. The veteran MC was 42. He had reportedly suffered from health problems for years, including sickle cell anemia, but at this time, no official cause of death is known.
A statement from Prodigy’s rep obtained by read:
“It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”
Prodigy was in Vegas over the weekend performing on The Art of Rap Tour alongside Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One and the festival’s founder, Ice-T. Mobb Deep performed on Saturday night (June 17).
ST. PAUL — The images had transfixed people around the world: A woman live-streaming the aftermath of a police shooting of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, and narrating the searing, bloody scene that was unfolding around her.
On Friday, a jury here acquitted the Minnesota police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, of all charges in shooting, which happened in July 2016 and left Mr. Castile dead, raising the national debate over police conduct toward black people. Officer Yanez, an officer for the suburb of St. Anthony, had been charged with second-degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a firearm in the shooting.
The verdict was announced in a tense courtroom here late Friday afternoon, after five days of deliberations, and the officer was led quickly out of the courtroom, as were the 12 jurors. Mr. Castile’s family, which had nervously watched the proceedings from the front row, abruptly left as well.
“My son loved this city, and this city killed my son,” Mr. Castile’s mother, Valerie, said as she stood on a corner outside the courthouse afterward. “And a murderer gets away. Are you kidding me right now?”
She continued, “The system in this country continues to fail black people and will continue to fail us.”
The case against Officer Yanez — believed to be the first time in Minnesota history that an officer was charged in an on-duty fatal shooting — hinged on one central question: Did the officer have reason to fear that Mr. Castile was reaching for a gun that he had acknowledged having with him when he was pulled over by the officer?
Officer Yanez testified that he feared Mr. Castile was grabbing for the gun, but Mr. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, said he had merely been reaching for his identification to give the officer.
Though there was dashboard camera video of the events, as well as the live-stream video that Ms. Reynolds began taking after the shooting, there was no video clearly revealing the crucial moments in the front seat of Mr. Castile’s car — and how precisely he had moved his hands before the officer fired.
The shooting set off large marches across the twin cities and, at one point, blocked off a major highway. It drew notice from President Barack Obama, as well as the governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, who asked aloud: “Would this have happened if the driver were white, if the passengers were white?”
On Friday, as news of the acquittal filtered out, a small group of protesters gathered outside the courthouse, expressing anger and dismay. “It’s not us that were on trial, it was the system that was on trial,” said Mel Reeves, a community activist.
Later in the evening, protesters gathered at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul to express their displeasure with the verdict. The police estimated that 1,500 people set off from there on a march, causing traffic backups and transit delays.
Mike Padden, a lawyer representing Ms. Reynolds, said he was surprised and disappointed by the verdict. “For those who are committed to the idea of leveling the playing field with law enforcement and the citizenry, it’s a big blow,” he said.
John J. Choi, the prosecutor who announced the charges against Officer Yanez, said on Friday that “this verdict brings a lot of hurt and pain and deep-seated frustration for a lot of people in this community.” Mr. Choi said he was disappointed in the verdict, and believed that Mr. Castile “did nothing that justified the taking of his life.”
“We gave it our best shot,” said Mr. Choi, the Ramsey County attorney. “We really did.”
The acquittal was the latest example of charges against an officer, but not a conviction. In recent years, officers in Cleveland, Pennsylvania and Tulsa, Okla., have been found not guilty of manslaughter. Elsewhere, including Cincinnati and South Carolina, jurors have deadlocked on charges after a fatal shooting and failed to deliver any verdict at all.
Among some advocates for police officers, the outcome was met with approval.
Earl Gray, a lawyer for Officer Yanez, said he was gratified with the outcome, but frustrated that charges were ever brought.
“The state didn’t have a case in the first place,” Mr. Gray said in an interview on Friday evening after the acquittal. “But because of the protests and the political pressure, I suppose you’d call it, he was charged and he had to go into court and defend himself.”
Mr. Gray said Officer Yanez was “still very shook up” after the verdict, but “extremely happy it’s over.”
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“He wants to get on with his life,” Mr. Gray said.
As the officer left the courtroom, Judge William H. Leary III had said, “Mr. Yanez, you will now be excused from this matter with no further obligation to this court. Good luck to you.”
Despite the verdict, though, officials with the city of St. Anthony, where Officer Yanez has worked for several years, issued a statement late Friday saying that they had “concluded that the public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city.” They said they planned to offer him a “voluntary separation agreement.” In the meantime, the city said, he will not be returning to patrol.
Through a week of testimony in the trial, the case had centered chiefly on the conflicting accounts of what Mr. Castile, a longtime school cafeteria worker whom Officer Yanez had pulled over for a broken taillight at twilight on a summer evening, was doing before he was shot.
Prosecutors said Officer Yanez had created a dangerous situation, perceived a threat where none existed and, in addition to killing Mr. Castile, almost wounded Ms. Reynolds and her young daughter in the back seat.
“He was making assumptions and jumping to conclusions without engaging in the dialogue he was trained to have in a citizen encounter like this,” Jeffrey Paulsen, a prosecutor, said in closing arguments. “And that’s his fault, not the fault of Philando Castile.”
Mr. Castile was licensed to carry a gun and was recorded on a dashboard camera video calmly telling Officer Yanez that he had a weapon in the car. Officer Yanez told him not to reach for the weapon, and Mr. Castile and Ms. Reynolds both tried to assure the officer that he was not doing so. Within seconds, Officer Yanez fired seven shots.
Prosecutors said Mr. Castile had mentioned his gun to allay concerns, not to threaten the officer or escalate the situation. “If someone were just about to reach in their pocket and pull out a gun and shoot an officer, that’s the last thing they would say,” Mr. Paulsen said.
Mr. Gray, the defense lawyer, said Officer Yanez had to react quickly to what he believed was an imminent threat. He said Officer Yanez smelled marijuana, believed that Mr. Castile matched the description of a recent robbery suspect and saw him grabbing a gun.
“We have him ignoring his commands. He’s got a gun. He might be the robber. He’s got marijuana in his car,” Mr. Gray told jurors. “Those are the things in Officer Yanez’s head.”
Officer Yanez did not tell Mr. Castile about the robbery suspicions, only that his brake light was out. But Mr. Gray said that this approach made sense, and that Officer Yanez had acted reasonably given his training and what he knew that night.
“He did what he had to do,” Mr. Gray said, adding that the situation was “tragic.”
The jury of 12, including two black people, had to sort through the competing narratives. Both prosecutors and defense lawyers said the video footage supported their version of events.
At Officer Yanez’s trial, in this small courtroom in downtown St. Paul, defense lawyers made repeated mention of Mr. Castile’s and Ms. Reynolds’s use of marijuana. The drug was found in Mr. Castile’s car after the shooting, and Mr. Gray said that Mr. Castile had been under the influence of marijuana and delayed in his reactions at the time of the shooting.
“We’re not saying that Philando Castile was going to shoot Officer Yanez,” Mr. Gray said. “What we’re saying is that he did not follow orders. He was stoned.”
But Mr. Paulsen, the prosecutor, said that version of events was contradicted by video. He said footage showed that Mr. Castile was driving normally, pulled over quickly and was alert and courteous when talking to Officer Yanez. He accused the defense of blaming the victim.
“He offered no resistance,” Mr. Paulsen said of Mr. Castile. “He made no threats. He didn’t even complain about being stopped for such a minor offense.”
Correction: June 16, 2017
An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misspelled the given name of the officer who was acquitted. He is Jeronimo Yanez, not Geronimo.
In a series of tweets sent out on what would have been Tupac Shakur’s 46th birthday (June 16), Jada Pinkett-Smith debunked the accuracy of the new Tupac biopic All Eyez On Me and claimed many of the scenes involving her friendship with the slain rapper didn’t exactly go down the way it was portrayed in the film.
“Forgive me … my relationship to Pac is too precious to me for the scenes in All Eyez On Me to stand as truth,” she wrote.
At one point in the movie, Tupac, who is played by actor and ‘Pac doppelgänger Demetrius Shipp, Jr., reads a poem to Pinkett-Smith, who is portrayed by actress Kat Graham, but Pinkett-Smith denied he ever shared it with her while he was alive.
“Pac never read me that poem,” she wrote. “I didn’t know that poem existed until it was printed in his book.”
Pinkett-Smith and Tupac were high school classmates in Baltimore, and although there was a chance for a romantic relationship at one point, it never worked out and the two remained close friends until his death in 1996. In an interview with radio host Howard Stern, she described their failed attempt at a kiss.
‘There was a time when I was like, ‘Just kiss me! Let’s just see how this goes,’” she told Stern. “And when I tell you it had to be the most disgusting kiss for us both. The only way I can put it is, the higher power just did not want that.”
As she continued going through the film scene-by-scene, she called the portrayal of their relationship as “deeply hurtful,” but was forgiving of both Shipp, Jr. and Graham. “To @KatGraham and @Dshippjr this is not fault of yours,” she said. “Thank you for bringing so much heart and spirit to your roles.
“You both did a beautiful job with what you were given,” she added. “Thank you both.”
Mrs. Will Smith’s final tweet makes it clear she carries the relationship close to her and cherishes the time she got to spend with the Hip Hop legend. “Happy birthday Pac, you are cradled in my heart for eternity. I love you.”
The head of Michigan’s health department has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the ongoing Flint water crisis.
In a report from the Washington Post, Nick Lyon, the director of the state’s health department, along with four other public officials, were charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in the Flint water crisis by the state’s attorney general’s office on Wednesday. Lyon also faces one count of misconduct in office, with both charges being felonies.
The other four public officials charged with involuntary manslaughter include: Stephen Busch, a water supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; Darnell Earley, who had been a state-appointed emergency manager for Flint; Howard Croft, former director of the city’s public works department; and Liane Shekter-Smith, who served as chief of the state’s Office of Drinking Water.
The charges not only stem from the lead-tainted water that exposed Flint residents (especially children) to potential long-term health risks, but an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease linked to the water crisis. The disease has resulted in at least a dozen deaths.
According to documents filed in court, Lyon was aware of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak by early 2015 but “did not notify the public until a year later.” The documents also claim that he “willfully disregarded the deadly nature of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak,” saying “[we] can’t save everyone” and “everyone has to die of something.”
Alongside Lyon and the four other public officials, Eden Wells, the state’s chief medical executive, faces charges of obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer a dozen other local and state officials are facing criminal charges.
Former Zulu Nation Minister of Information Grandmaster T.C. Izlam (real name Tony Bell) has been killed in Atlanta, according to prominent New York City Hip Hop promoter Van Silk and DJ Kevie Kev Rockwell. Through uncontrollable tears, Kevie Kev called Silk towards the end of one of his routine Facebook Live posts to tell him the tragic news.
“They killed T.C. Izlam, man,” Rockwell can be heard saying in the video. “They got him. They killed my man.”
T.C. Izlam, who coined the “Hip-Step” subset of Hip Hop, was considered a “little brother” to countless pioneers of the culture, including Kurtis Blow, Grand Mixer DXT, Kool Kyle and Kevie Kev, who all spoke to HipHopDX together on a conference call. While DJ Kool Red Alert was present for the phone call with DX, he was unable to gather his thoughts about T.C.’s passing because he was in shock. DXT gathered a few words to share about his late friend.
“T.C. was and is one of the youngsters that came up among us that was a teacher,” DXT told DX. “He was a well-educated young man and his ambitions to lead and teach were profound. We don’t know what the circumstances are and were, but we know our brother is gonna be missed by the community. He had a wealth of knowledge through his research and studying to share, as far as in the community of uplifting people to move in a more positive direction despite organized and systemic dissemination of destructive behavior in our community.
“He’s one of these people who ‘over-stood’ the ills that affected our community and chose to take the position to be a spokesperson on behalf of the movement that we’re calling Hip Hop,” he continued. “He would try to educate people on the values that we have to maintain in order for us not to lose the cultural aspect of what we’re trying to build. He was trying his best to understand what’s actually happening to us in our desire to express ourselves through the medium we call Hip Hop.”
Alongside Grandwizard Theodore, Kevie Kev was not only drawn to T.C.’s talent on the mic, but also his deep breadth of knowledge.
“He was extremely powerful, especially with our youth,” Kevie Kev said. “He would take the ones doing bad things and educate them mentally to where he’d change young kids lives with wisdom and knowledge. A lot of people look at T.C. as one of the big MCs of his era of Hip Hop. He was nice and he was good, but people often overlooked his massive intellect. He was one of the most intelligent gentlemen I ever met. He could decipher anything for you and be correct. He shared his wisdom with everybody. Grandwizard Theodore and I brought him — not people around him —into the limelight with us because we liked the way he rocked the mic, but also because of how smart he was.”
The aforementioned Hip Hop luminary Kurtis Blow made an album with T.C. called Tricka Technology while working with DJ Krafty Kuts and A. Skillz, and consequently spent nearly two months with him on an extensive European tour. The two became extremely close during that time.
“When we met, I was making an album and we ended up recording one together,” Blow said. “We spent a lot of time together on tour. To see him on stage, he shocked and surprised me as a real legitimate force. He wasn’t just an MC. This guy was really good. He was masterful and incredible. To hear him live, he shocked me with his skills. I will never forget the times we had. We were an incredible duo together on stage. He made me love Hip Hop. I knew there were other people who loved it as much as I did and do. He was one of them. He had a lot of talent and creative energy. He was a real spirit. He had his own sound. That drum and bass thing he was doing [Hip-Step] — he was one of the pioneers of that. My hat goes off to him. He’s a legend in his own right we’ll miss him. Rest in peace.”
Kool Kyle the Starchild is another pioneering Bronx Hip Hop artist known for the 1980 track “Do You Like That Funky Beat” and shared similar sentiments on T.C.
“T.C. was a very wise brother for his time,” Kyle said. “We talked about a lot of personal things besides MCing. We did things together on the mic, but during our personal talks, we shared knowledge of our hood, what was going on in the culture, and what we had to do to support each other. He was very smart about what we had to do to take care of each other. He stood out to me on that level. He was a great MC, but what stood out to me was being able to analyze where we stood as MCs and pioneers. As MCs that did not reach a certain level commercial, he knew what we could do to get recognized.”
While details surrounding his sudden death are not yet available, the way the pioneers of Hip Hop culture came together so quickly to remember T.C. speaks volumes. DXT was in awe that he knew T.C. as a community leader more so than an MC.
“This is the first time I’m really hearing about him as an MC,” DXT said. “I was nurturing him as a community leader. The time I spent with him was solely on being a public speaker and directing energy into our youth. That’s what my relationship was. When he was the national spokesperson for Zulu Nation, I felt I needed to help him to take that position and have it stand on solid ground as a national person instead of regional. I find it very interesting that I’ve known him longer than everyone on the phone right now, but I never engaged him in music. He came up with his own ‘Hip-Step’ genre of Hip Hop and now that’s all around the world. That was his movement.”
Atlanta, GA – The Atlanta Hip Hop community suffered a major loss on Thursday (June 8). Quentin “Grip Plyaz” Hood, a stalwart of the scene who mentored the likes of Trinidad James and Two-9, died this week after battling cancer for two years.
In 2015, Grip was diagnosed with stage three pleomorphic sarcoma, a rare form of soft tissue cancer. A surgery that removed 80 percent of the cancerous tissue did not provide positive results as the cancer quickly returned and forced him into radiation. His rough battle with the disease was extensively profiled in a piece by Creative Loafing’s Gavin Godfrey.
Earlier this week, Grip suffered a cardiac arrest as the cancer spread throughout his body. He fell into a coma and passed away just a few days later, according to a flood of social media posts from his family, friends and artists he influenced.
Grip found his first real musical inspiration in the group Y’all So Stupid. The alt-rap trio signed to Dallas Austin’s Rowdy Records imprint also happened to be Grip’s neighbors. They let Grip sit in on the songwriting and producing processes. He admired their creativity and the fact that the artists were quirky but kept it hood.
Grip got his start in 1995 as part of the Knobodies, who were managed by Quality Control Music founder Kevin “Coach K” Lee. After the duo broke up, Grip embarked on a solo career and found new heights in the 2000s. He became an associate of Yelawolf, who made him part of the Slumerican family. Grip’s versatility allowed him to collaborated regularly with traditional Hip Hop acts like Collective Efforts and trap artists like Slick Pulla.
In the late 2000s, Grip created the anthem “Fuck Dat Hipster Shit.” The track became his most well-known song, receiving substantial blog coverage, getting featured on Killer Mike’s 2009 compilation Underground Atlanta and becoming an immensely popular record in his hometown.
Over the course of Grip’s career, he would release three full-length projects – 2005’s CUMGITSLUM, 2008’s GRIP HOP and 2012’s Purp, Wind, And Fire – along with two EPs – 2010’s 6Pack Vol. 1 and 2014’s reTURNT To Sender. His style showcased a different approach to Atlanta rap, ostensibly becoming a forefather to many rappers who blew up over the past five years.
While Grip’s music was enough to establish a legacy, his guidance of fellow artists added to an impressive resume. Grip helped artists such as Key! break into the game and motivated Trinidad James to release the hit single “All Gold Everything.”
The death of Grip has sparked an outpouring of love on social media from inside and outside of the Atlanta scene. Check out the many condolences below. HipHopDX wishes the best to Grip’s friends and family, particularly his son Zaid, during this difficult time.
The Educated Rapper, a member ’80s hip-hop group U.T.F.O., has died following a battle with cancer, He was 54. The news was officially announced on Instagram by fellow U.T.F.O. member Kangol Kid.
Jeffrey Campbell, aka the Educated Rapper, aka EMD, was one-fourth of U.T.F.O., which stands for Untouchable Force Organization, along with the Kangol Kid, Doctor Ice, and Mix Master Ice. Mentored and produced by the R&B group Full Force, their best-known song is the classic 1984 hit “Roxanne, Roxanne.”
After U.T.F.O. canceled an appearance at a concert for Mr. Magic, Marley Marl, and Tyrone Williams’ WBLS radio show, Marl produced Roxanne Shanté’s diss track “Roxanne’s Revenge,” sparking the series of rivalries and response tracks known as the Roxanne Wars.
Revisit U.T.F.O.’s work and find tributes to the Educated Rapper on social media below.