Awaiting final confirmation, artists and associates including Da Beatminerz and Busta Rhymes have stated that turntablism pioneer and instructor Roc Raida has died this weekend. The New York-based deejay was most known for his years with the award-winning X-Men (b/k/a) The X-Ecutioners. This crew, whose legendary lineup included founder Rob Swift, Total Eclipse, Mista Sinista and Roc Raida (Steve Dee, DJ Boogie Blind and DJ Precision were also members at various times).
Last month, it was reported that the deejay was hospitalized as a result of a spinal injury. Although those reports have yet to be officially confirmed, the Hip Hop industry began a campaign wishing the innovator for a speedy recovery.
At 37 years old, Roc Raida won numerous ITF and DMC championships for his turntable skills. Although he is remembered for his jovial character away from the decks, Raida was an innovator in cut-throat deejay battles that often involved incorporating competitor's names into his mixes. Raida's also known for his agile spin-moves, and often making acrobatic cuts on the turntable, through legs, over the shoulder, and using his mouth to cut the fader.
Through his AdiarCor imprint, Roc Raida released over half a dozen CDs and DVDs, that were both mixtapes, documentaries and instructionals for aspiring deejays. His mixtapes, including Crossfaderz, and WHAT! 187 FM are also remembered for their comedic interludes, often making mock commercials for malt liquors, car services and Jamaican nightclubs.
On records, Raida was present for The X-Ecutioners' 2002 album Built From Scratch [click to read], released on Loud/Sony Records. Previously, the deejay crew was infamously recruited by Rick Rubin for his Def American imprint, but failed to reach an agreement.
With his scratching abilities, Roc Raida worked on dozens of classic albums. Highlights include O.C.'s Word...Life, Big Pun's Capital Punishment, Buckshot Lefonque's self-titled debut and Immortal Technique's two Revolutionary [click to read] volumes. As a producer, Roc Raida worked with numerous members of D.I.T.C. and Smif N' Wessun.
Last week, via Grandmaster Roc Raida's MySpace page, his family said this: "Anthony Williams p/k/a/ GM Roc Raida is in the hospital. His family thanks all of his fans for the well wishes and prayers. At this time please allow him and his family privacy to deal with the matter. The rumors and chatter is not accurate and we will release something more in detail at a later time. Thank you on behalf of the family and close friends."
The staff of HipHopDX mourns the loss of Grandmaster Roc Raida. It was a blessing to know you, and cover your work.
DX will keep you updated on more details.
UPDATE: HipHopDX has received a statement from Roc Raida's family, confirming the tragic loss. "Anthony Williams p/k to the world as The Legendary Grandmaster Roc Raida has passed away unexpectedly today September 19 2009. He is survived by his wife, three lovely daughters, mother and friends. Raida was recently in an mixed martial arts accident, something that he has been practicing for several years. Although he had under gone two surgeries with great success, was released to an inpatient physical therapy facility and was in great spirits the past few days. This morning he started to have complications and passed. The family asks for privacy at this time."