As I spoke on in this week's column, the senseless murder of Bay Area rapper The Jacka was a huge, aching blow to West Coast hiphop, one many compared to the killing of Vallejo legend Mac Dre—or even more impactfully, the loss of Tupac Shakur. Seeing as he was such a celebrated figure up here in Seattle's hiphop scene, I wanted to touch bases with a few people from around the NW and get their thoughts on the guy a lot of people consider The Dopest Foreal. Mob In Peace, Jack.
Jake One (producer, Seattle): We lost a great artist and person who truly touched lives. RIP Jacka.
Gifted Gab (MC, Moor Gang, Seattle): RIP to The Jacka, man. Been bumpin' Mob Figaz for years. I had some of the best times of my life during the hyphy movement and I remember The Jacka always being in rotation in every scenario. Every BBQ, every party, every function, every hotbox ('cause hotboxing was the thing in '07, lol). He also had cuts that got niggas through some of their hardest times. Point blank, he was a real artist, he was a real nigga, and he'll definitely be missed.
Avatar Darko (MC, Seattle via LA): Jacka was one of my biggest musical/artistic influences period. Just the authenticity he had as an artist—you could hear it in his voice right away. He was so melodic, humble, yet so hard and unfiltered. I really related to his music and loved through it. I would be in the studio and literally pretend I was Jacka in my mind, that's the effect his music had on me. I met him a few times he had a lot of roots in Seattle and was real close to some of my family. He wasn't just a rapper.. .he was a revolutionary. He stood for something bigger than just rap. He stood for being thoro. His music literally raised me. It gave you hope when you listened to it.
SneakGuapo (MC, Moor Gang, Seattle): The Jacka had confidence and helped pushed his people up, behind all of the negative many people may see. I actually had the opportunity to meet the legendary Jacka before his life got taken. He had respect for anyone from Seattle, no problem—he loved it here. Nothing but good energy from bro. I remember riding in my brother's Buick when I first heard him at like the age of 14. I asked my brother who he was, and he responded "Boy, you're too young, just sit back and listen." People always tell me they hear the passion behind my lyrics, but when you listen to him that's all you get. Sad to hear someone I looked up to so much passing away, but, I know he isn't mad. He's up in heaven chilling right now as I'm writing this. RIP the legend, we'll never forget you, G! Rest easy!
Cool Nutz (MC, radio host, Portland): Jacka was an artist that has built a tremendous fanbase in the NW and I think that after you get past the legends like E-40, Too Short, and Mac Dre, The Jacka was basically in that second class of standout artists from the Bay. Not only was he a unique artist with a unique style, he was also a genuinely good person that was loved by many. I met Jacka first when C-Bo had began working with The Mob Figaz. hey were groundbreaking in the sound that they had come with—it was a mixture of the classic Bay sound with an East Coast twist to it and it actually changed the direction that music from the Northern part of The West Coast was going. They were more innovative then what they will get credit for. The Jack Artist and Tear Gas albums will go down in history as some classic West Coast albums that were a fresh sound.
One of my most recent memories was being in Malmo Sweden after a show with Bone Thugs, Freeway, Paul Wall, and a few others getting food. Jacka was ordering with Paul Wall and Freeway. I was sitting down chillin', and he asked me what I wanted to eat.Not only did he ask what I wanted to eat, he paid for all of us. This stood out to me, as most people don't think of others like that, and you could see that he was just taking care of the people around him in a genuine and caring way. I had the pleasure of working with him in so many ways. From shows early on, to booking him for POH-Hop, to helping manage and market the Jacka & Dubble-00 album. It's just sad to see so many young men, especially groundbreaking artist lose their lives so early on. My prayers and condolences go out to his family.
Cam the Mac (MC, Moor Gang, Seattle): Jack spoke for the struggle we go thru in a way nobody else could. With a energy and over standing that made you relate to every word on and off the mic. He was definitely sent here to speak for our community and laced us wit game that since Pac and Mac Dre not many artist were brave enough to do. He spoke up for his religion and brought young niggas from the hood to God. He mourned with you through loss of loved ones and rode wit you when you had nothing but revenge on your mind. He never withheld knowledge and he gave chances to the street niggas who had an itch to do music. He was a visionary to young niggas like me all around the globe. Mob In Peace Cuddy Jack! We love you forever.
D Valley (MC, 2nd Life Ent, Seattle): Yea, He had a big impact on street rap for the West Coast. Real influential figure. I grew up listening to The Jacka. He helped me through some of the hardest moments in my life serving time incarcerated. I use to wake up and listen to his whole album Tear Gas for motivation coming home to the streets. His music helped keep my mind clear and focused. I was blessed to be able and work with him years later on my very own project Live From The Hood Vol. 3 and share laughter, wisdom and great vibes. Sad to hear about the loss. Rest Easy.
Neema (MC/promoter, Seattle): I was blessed to be a part of the man's legendary catalog. About a year ago, I ran into this artist named M Dot 80 in Auburn while on my hustle and we built a relationship. M hits me about a month later and says he's working on a project with Jacka, asks me to work on a record for the album, so of course I obliged. That ended up being "What the Fuck" with Carey Stacks off his project with M Dot 80 Risk Game.
About a year later, Poppa Blaq reaches out to me and says he wants to bring Jacka out with Freeway for a show in Seattle, and that was actually my first time meeting Jacka. Such a cool, humble dude and he came up to me like "You're Neema? Good song, homie." Made my night. My year, actually. RIP to the legend. You don't really see someone's affect on the community until they are gone which is sad but I'm happy to have met him and known him and build with the man.
HaniF (MC, Portland via Harlem): MAN! How can you ever say enough? I felt a connection to him on a few levels, and he was always cool when we crossed paths. It was one of those things... when I was locked up, someone gave me a copy of Jack Artist and I was like "Oh, THE JACKA, huh?" laughingly because I expected some bull, to be honest. Man, I was like two tracks in and hooked haha. Then when I realized he was a Muslim... wow. WOW. I had never heard someone be so ardent in their diin, yet so candid about the life they were living. There isn't an artist I can think of that ever spoke to me on that level besides Pac. I have to say, there were many, MANY times when I was at rock bottom and feeling like I had nothing, and Jack's music was the antidote.
D-Sane (producer, Street Level Records, Seattle): Back in 2000 when we were all first getting started in the rap game, we would run into them (the Mob Figaz) occasionally while we were traveling around doing shows. I remember meeting them for the first time at the Roseland Theater in PDX, right after we dropped F.T.S. Money Motivated in March of 2000. To us, they were celebrities because of the success of their debut album (we even had it playing in the background of an intro on Money Motivated), but Jacka never acted Hollywood with me. He talked with me for about an hour about the independent music game and offered advice. There were a lot of similarities between F.T.S. and Mob Figaz at the time, so I think that may have been part of it as well.
The West Coast music scene hasn't suffered a loss like this since 2Pac passed. Jacka was one of the real ones and a genuinely nice guy. That's why you're seeing such an outcry from not only the fans, but from the entire music industry. He didn't deserve that. I can't see him having any enemies and can't understand why anybody would want to kill him.
MTK (producer, Seattle): My friend Larry hipped me to Tear Gas in 2009. The way he presented it to his peers wasn't your typical route of "this album is dope," but more so as "you absolutely, positively HAVE to check this out." My exposure to the Jack was limited to C-Bo and Mob Figaz as an Everett scumbag, but I held his opinion in high esteem and actually bought the album.
The album changed how I looked at music as a fan, and as a producer. It was an amalgamation of all the things I loved about hiphop at that time: A thoughtful, 360 review of street shit, crisp Dr Dre mixing cast aside in favor of authentic, sonically-muddy music—ultimately, an album filled to the brim with genuine personality. The content in the record that struck the deepest chord with me was a deep look into the systemic financial and social ecosystem that created the attitude that guy's from the Bay had. The attitude of "Fuck if you're checking for us, WE are checking for it, and we don't need you." That statement was applicable to hiphop snobbery, West Bay attitude, everything. It resonated with me. I identified with it. The album was filled with uncleared samples, songs without a proper mixdown, but all of that was irrelevant because that attitude was front and center throughout the entire album.
I listened to the album day in, day out for a couple years, which were some of the most transformative in my life. All of those memories are peppered and interwoven with Tear Gas, and always will be. When I finally met Jack in town, I took my producer hat off and approached him genuinely as a fan and expressed some of my feelings about the album. He was gracious, humble, and seemed legitimately interested in what I had to say. We chatted for a few minutes and I was on my way. Whenever I catch the beginning of Street Sounds, I always expect to hear Summer, which is the first track on Tear Gas. It makes me smile everytime I heard it because it reminds me Larry is doing exactly what the fuck he wants to do with his show, and brings me back to a time in my life where I would listen to the record as motivation to try and achieve what seemed to be lofty goals. I don't have a poignant summary to provide, but instead, a call to whoever is reading this that may not be familiar: Go buy Tear Gas by The Jacka. Support independent hiphop. Support legitimate expressions of self. Support true black music made for the community that created it. Rest in peace, Jack.
Vitamin D (producer, Seattle):