Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grandmaster Roc Raida RIP! (1972-2009)

This summer has been tough for me losing idols. First it was Michael Jackson, a man I emulated from adolescence throughout my teenage years. Then we lost DJ AM, an incredibly dope dj I had just seen five weeks earlier with another of my idols Dj Jazzy Jeff. Next Raida, WTF God?

I've taken a lot of time to mull over this, and actually wrote unpublished blog entries on this very subject. The one I wrote for Raida on my phone at a bar, got completely deleted... Sweeeeetttt! So I'll begin again, and maybe republish the one about AM tomorrow.

Raida e-mailed me days before his accident about possibly bringing Roc Raida's Gong Battle for Supremacy to New Orleans. I never returned the e-mail fearing that he wouldn't want to be bothered with business while he was recuperating. The next few weeks were shrouded in mystery as to exactly what happened. There was report that he had to have surgery, and was in recovery; but no specific details on Geo's board. Then out of the blue, I get the news.

Official Statement from family

Roc Raida was particularly significant because if not for the X-Men. I would have never become a dj in the first place. Who knows where I would be or what I would be doing. I remember the first time I heard X-Men Style Beats from the Return of the Dj Compilation. I couldn't begin to understand exactly what he was doing. All I knew was he did it using turntables and records and nothing else. This began my infatuation for beat juggling. I spent months and months trying to do "that thing that Raida did". I had never seen a video, I just kept listening to it over and over and over trying to make sense of this new and seemingly impossible concept. Soooo much money spent on double copies of records. That became my crack. "Yo man you got two copies of that??" All trying to duplicate, unsuccessfully I might add, what the X-Men were doing.

Then I bought X-Men in Xercise... It finally began to make sense. Wow! I was still waaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy far away from their skill levels, but at least I had the first set of stepping stones. Watching them candidly break down each particular routine, the level of showmanship they displayed while doing these routines, the body tricks, and the overall musical composition was just mind-blowing.

"So this was the footage that led up to the Raida's 95 World Championship??"

Over the years, I would get more and more videos, Xecutioners 97 European Tour was another mind-fuck... This was some next-level musical instrumentation. It all really seemed impossible as if these guys were from another more advanced musical planet. These guys really fueled my obsession for what had been deemed "Turntablism", and I as a young man I was looking for something to fill a void in my life that had been occupying itself with recreational drug use (yeah I said it). So I delved deeper and deeper into this world and deeper and deeper into hip hop culture.

I was never in this for fame, or girls, or money. I was becoming a musician for music's sake. I was tired of being just a casual listener, a consumer, a wall-flower. I wanted to contribute. In my little sugarcane hometown, there wasn't much for me in the realm of dj inspiration. I had to move to Lafayette before I would even meet someone else that was a dj, much less a scratch dj. So I continued to create in a bubble, that's when met the first members of the crew Beauregard Breaux and T-Mike Girouard, these guys shared my love for all things hip hop and were down to help me figure this turntablism thing out. So for the longest time it was us in a room with three turntables and two mixers, just figuring it all out. I would learn scratch-drumming, Mike would learn a simple juggle breakdown, Beau would learn a scratch. We fed off of each other, and learned. It began to snowball until we all felt confident enough that WE could actually battle and win.

All of this wouldn't have happened if not for Roc Raida. I only met him once, to ask he, Rob Swift, Mista Sinista, and Total Eclipse to sign the jacket of X-Pressions at the State Palace Theater in 1998. So I never really knew him besides the correspondence I had with him through emails. But the emails meant a lot to me and he helped me on the path into what I am today.

So Raida, you meant a lot to me. If it wasn't for you, there truly would be no me.

Rest in Peace Brother Roc Raida, you were the personification of a Grandmaster.

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