I don't know what it is about our relationship to death—I mean, I do—but RIP dedications are as hiphop as superstars and gold chains. Ice Cube's "Dead Homiez," pouring some out, shout-outs, murals, moments of silence. What other musical subculture has such a connection to those who've passed away? (I mean, besides rock's crass brand of embalming and canonization.)
I think a lot about a minute-and-a-half track on Jake One's White Van Music, the one titled "RIP," one of the most comprehensive such dedications. On it, over the horns and strings of Willie Hutch's "I Choose You," the unmistakable voice of Seattle's hiphop alpha Vitamin D lists off a litany of the culture's missed.
Love and energy to everybody who loved Jon "Gash" Sanders, a very good brother gone too soon. Maybe you knew him as the big bearded dude working outside Neumos/Moe Bar, the protector, the de-escalator, weary of the assholes afoot but quick with a big grin and a good word. Maybe you knew him as the Golden Gorilla, one of the big-ass Oldominion posse, one of Northwest hiphop's most important crews, the one that bridged Seattle to Portland. Maybe you remember him from the days of the Boiler Room studio right up the block from his perch on Pike, where he and his Dim Mak bros recorded. Maybe you knew him as a hilarious, gentle dude who loved hardcore rap and pro wrestling, who probably got described constantly as a teddy bear (and as somebody who often wears that tag as well, I suspect he'd probably hate it but gladly give the big hug it implies). But most likely, if you've been around the block, you knew him, you're shocked that he's gone so young, and you'll miss him. I will. Rest in Power, homie. And never forget his words, as captured in the brief "Interview" skit he has on Oldominion's 2001 debut, One: "We all a bunch of racist fucked-up bastards."
RIP, too, to ATL's Trentavious "Bankroll Fresh" White, who I didn't know but listened to ("Walked In" is a perfect stripped-down slice of Atlanta gangsta brag-rap, deconstructed by one of my favorite young producers, Mr. 2-17). The fast and harrowing life he described on the Life of a Hot Boy mixtapes caught up, as he was shot and killed outside the Street Execs recording studio. (What the fuck is it with recording studios? You know what I mean?)
I dedicated Killer Mike's "Reagan" to Nancy Reagan this weekend on Street Sounds, and was told it was "classless." Maybe I should have played Too Short's "Cusswords," where Short Dog swears that she gave him a rather presidential honor one night. C-YA.
Anyway: Lastly, RIP to The Stranger's art director, Aaron Huffman. I didn't know Aaron too well. Often, though, in my talks with my editor, Sean Nelson, what Aaron meant to this place, and to Sean, would come up. It's a whole lot, and I just wanna send love to those who loved him.