The Rose From Concrete That Never Grew
Why step on the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Why end the life cycle of a phenomenon that proved nature’s law wrong? The rose learned to walk without having feet. Destruction isn’t as funny as it seems, when what’s being destroyed is the rose’s dreams. Just as the rose learned to breathe fresh air, it was stepped on because no else cared. That rose I’m referring to represents of all of the rappers who lost their lives before they could achieve success. In most cases, we’ll never know or understand the circumstances that led to the permanent dimming of the light of brilliance these young men exuded.
The Rose that Grew from concrete is an iconic poem written by the late, great Tupac Shakur. The piece personifies a rose to represent disenfranchised people that defy the odds and rise above their seemingly impossible circumstances.
The opening lines of this article is the other side of the coin, the story that is often forgotten once the RIP tees fade and the garbage man removes the candles and balloons from the location of the vigil. Everyone loves a success story, especially one that includes many trials and tribulations but the stories that are often forgotten are the ones that contain characters who were on the brink of success when their lives were tragically ended. This is a story that has become more and more prevalent in hip hop culture. They say in life you die twice, once when you physically leave this earth and again when your name is spoken for the last time. My goal is to keep their names alive forever since they no longer have the liberty to do it on their own. I want to send love, peace, understanding and happiness to the families of the victims I’ll be highlighting in this article.
Lil Snupe was Meek Mill’s sole protégé and native of relatively unknown city known as Jonesboro, Louisiana. His young life came to a tragic end in the early hours of June 20, 2013. Louisiana has produced a number of hip-hop legends over the years. Lil Snupe was displaying everything past Louisiana hip-hop legends had plus more. He had the charisma, unique flow and passion. I saw the same passion in Lil Snupe as I saw in Meek when he was destroying instrumentals on Head Shot DVDs back in the mid-2000s. He was raw, hungry and had a story to tell. Sadly we never got to hear the entire story as it came to a tragic end when Lil Snupe became victim to the never ending gun violence that has plagued America. May Lil Snupe rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
Alabama is one of the few southern states to never have a real run in the hip hop industry. Doe B was the one person who I believe who was capable of kicking the door down and opening the flood gates of opportunity for Alabama. TI even labeled him his ‘Biggie Smallz’ a comparison that upset and confused many including Jay Z. Sadly before Doe B had a real opportunity to prove this comparison to be accurate or not, his life was cut short on December 28, 2013 by a former friend turned foe. May Doe B rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
Hip Hop, Harlem and the world lost a hip hop legend and one of the wittiest lyricists to ever rock a mic on February 15th, 1999. You may be wondering why I’m featuring Big L in this article when he technically had ‘made it’ at the time of his death. Yes, Big L had been signed to major label and released an album that fans would later label a hip hop classic but he hadn’t reached the level of fame or success that was warranted by his skill level. Prior to his death, Big L was in talks with Roc-A-Fella about possibly joining the legendary label, a move that would have propelled L to the super stardom he deserved. Unfortunately before he could sign his deal, he was murdered on 139th St & Lenox Ave, the block he loved and represented in his records. Ironically 17 years later, his killer was murdered on that very block. May Big L rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
In the era where the south was replacing NY as the epicenter for hip hop talent, Stack Bundles was the leader of a dying breed. Stack is what you call a true MC. Hip Hop purists love him, the streets loved him, he was in-line to eventually contend for the infamous ‘King of New York’ title. Stack had a built a buzz through slaughtering beats on legendary clue tapes, killing Hot 97 freestyles and having a strong presence during the DVD era. He was an original member of Jim Jones’ Byrd Gang after his departure from Dessert Storm. He was also the leader of his own rap crew, Riot Squad that featured another fallen soldier Chinx Drugz. Sadly before he had a chance to obtain mainstream success, his life was cut short on June 11th, 2007. May Stack Bundles rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
It seems like every day a new artist emerges from Atlanta but Bankroll Fresh was different. You could feel the authenticity in his music, something that is damn near impossible to emulate if it isn’t genuine. Bankroll had that vintage trap sound, his music made you feel like it was 2005 again and you were hopping off the porch for the first time. Some even credit Bankroll Fresh with starting the popular phrase “No Cap” or “Stop Capping”. His buzz was ridiculous prior to his death, I just knew he would be next in-line to carry the torch for genre made popular by TIP, Gucci Mane & Jeezy. Sadly Bankroll Fresh never got the chance to touch that torch due to his former friend murdering him on March 4, 2016. May Bankroll Fresh rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
After the infamous rise of Chief Keef and drill music, many other young gang members from his hood also began to follow suit to pursue a career in music. One of the most talented to come out of the 300/600 movement was LA Capone. LA Capone was more than your typical drill rapper, he was witty. He told gritty, violent but honest tales depicting the lifestyle he was caught in. He created a buzz that many would die for with his ‘Play for Keeps’ mixtape. Sadly he didn’t get a chance to ever reap the benefits of this buzz he was building. On September 26, 2013 he fell victim to a similar fate of many other young men in the streets. While leaving a recording studio on the south side of Chicago, he was gunned down by rival gang members. May LA Capone rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
One can only wonder how big Speaker Knockerz would be with 808s, harmonizing and auto tune being the driving force behind this current hip hop era. I believe that lane would have been dominated by Speaker Knockerz, his crisp 808s, unique auto-tune backed voice and his content would of have propelled this young man to super stardom. He also was producer that worked with a number of southern and Midwest heavy hitters. He was one of the few rappers to ever come out of South Carolina and make noise in the rap game. He gave an entire state hope that they could finally be heard. Sadly he was found dead in his home on March 4th, 2013. Toxicology reports stated that he passed from a heart attack induced by narcotics. May Speaker Knockerz rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
Actually being about the life that you rap about is a double-edged sword. It gives your music an authentic vibe that is impossible to emulate or imitate but it also means you’re constantly in the lion’s den as you maneuver through life. Camoflauge was one foot in and one foot out, the streets and his fans loved him for that, they felt like he was one of them. He was a neighborhood superstar that rapped; he wasn’t untouchable like many rap stars, which may have led to his untimely death. Camoflauge built his following through releasing a number of solo mixtapes and an independent album with his group Crime Affiliates. On May 19, 2003 he was gunned down outside of his studio while walking with his son, he was only 21. May Camoflauge rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
Lor Scoota Up Next! This phrase rang out through Baltimore City and its surrounding areas during Lor Scoota’s mixtape run. Lor Scoota was the front man and rap leader of the Baltimore crew YBS, Young Ballers Shinning. If you’re a fan of The Wire, you would have loved Lor Scoota’s music. Baltimore is another city that has never been at the forefront of hip-hop; Lor Scoota’s music gave you a glimpse into that city. He brought you to the west side of Baltimore with his lyrics, production and cadence. He was heavily affiliated with the Dream Chasers but never signed officially. Sadly on June 25th, 2016 he was gunned down after a charity basketball game. May Lor Scoota rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
Some referred to Soulja Slim as New Orleans’ 2pac, hailing from the infamous Magnolia housing projects. He embodied the Magnolia projects, even going by the name Magnolia Slim before changing it to Soulja Slim. Slim was able to release a two projects with No Limit records which critically acclaimed in the southern underground scene but neither did that well commercially. After his departure from the label he released two more independent projects creating a solid buzz. Sadly he was gunned down on November 26, 2003. After his death, his single ‘Slow Motion’ with Juvenile reached number 1 on the billboard charts. May Soulja Slim rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
On the intro of Gucci Mane’s Trap God mixtape, he raps “I lost my nigga Dunk and no one will ever replace him, In Gucci's eyes he will always be one of the greatest”. I share those same sentiments. Slim Dunkin had everything it took to be a star in the trap rap lane. He had the look, the music and the reputation to validate it all. Slim Dunkin was a part of Gucci & Waka’s Bricksquad camp; he also had his own team behind him named Dirt Gang that included Derez De’Shon then known as D-Bo. Sadly on December 16, 2011, Slim Dunkin was murdered in an ATL studio prior to a video shoot with Gucci Mane. May Slim Dunkin rest in peace and may another rose grow from that crack in the concrete.
We understand that there are plenty of other rappers that passed before they could reach the pinnacle of success. We couldn’t cover them all but we would still like to show some respect to the following rappers who both may or may not have made it prior to their untimely deaths, Fredo Santana, 2pac, Mac Miller, Pimp C, Osama Dex, Heavy D, C Struggs, Jam Master Jay, Blood Money, OTF Nunu, Young Pappy, Lil JoJo, Bloodshed, Big Hawk, Biggie Smalls, Slim Dunkin, Fat Pat, Big Mello, Big Steve, Magonlia Shorty, Left Eye, Capital Steez, Lil Phat, DJ Screw, 30 Glizzy, Capo, E Moneybags, Lil Peep, Doughboy Roc, Freaky Tah, A$AP Yams, BTY YoungN, Prodigy, J Dilla, Koopsta Knicca, Sean Price, Craig Mack, Proof, A1 Lil Tony, XXXTentacion, Phife Dawg, Huddy 6, Hussein Fatal, Yaki Kadafi, Eazy E, Dolla, Billboard aka 4bent, Mausberg, ODB, Big Moe, Mac Dre, Big Syke, Chinx Drugs, Shawty Lo, Yella Boi, Nate Dogg, Guru, Big Pun, Lord Infamous, Young Greatness, Jimmy Wopo and Scott La Rock.
Rest in Peace.