During this month of June three legendary figures who helped popularize the urban culture known as hip-hop have transitioned onto the ancestral realm. First, June 3, the Educated Rapper from 1980s classic group U.T.F.O. passed in Brooklyn. Then, June 10, T.C. Izlam, former minister of information for the Universal Zulu Nation, was killed in Atlanta. And June 20, Prodigy of 1990s Queensbridge’s legendary duo Mobb Deep died in Las Vegas.
In a Facebook post on the evening of June 3 UTFO’s DJ, Mix Master Ice, made a passionate plea before his friend’s passing, reportedly from cancer, at age 54.
“This is a All Out Cry For Prayer. I just got the OK from family to go viral,” he wrote. “As I hold his hand, I need everyone’s power in prayer to pray for one of my best friends since 1979 & hip-hop partner, Jeffrey Campbell. Known to our worldwide fans as: The Educated Rapper MD or EMD 1/4 of the U.T.F.O. crew, which stands for: ‘Untouchable Force Organization.’ He is extremely ill and not doing well. Please help us pray for a Miracle Blessing.”
Fans may remember UTFO from their mid’80s recording, “Roxanna, Roxanne.”
Although details regarding T.C. Izlam’s untimely passing have not been publicized, longtime friend Grand Master DXT shared with the media, “We don’t know what the circumstances are and were, but we know our brother is gonna be missed by the community. He had a wealth of knowledge through his research and studying to share, as far as in the community of uplifting people to move in a more positive direction despite organized and systemic dissemination of destructive behavior in our community.”
T.C. stepped down from his post in April 2016 after the public revelation that UZN founder, Afrika Bambaataa, is a pederast. before that T.C. was known as the “son of Bambaataa.”
“Since my resignation, I’ve received 25 death threats,” he claimed in an interview last year. “I got tired of the Afrika Bambaataa fan club members inside the UZN causing a lot of hindrance. The UZN is entirely separate from Bambaataa’s life. I cannot support any type of pedophile, whether it’s from Bambaataa or a family member.”
In more recent years he has been credited with founding Hipstep, which he described as, “Hip is the vibe. Stepping forward is the movement.”
After Prodigy passed last Tuesday because of complications from his lifelong battle with sickle cell anemia, his Mobb Deep partner Havoc along with Lil Kim paid tribute while presenting the award for best male hip-hop artist this Sunday during the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
“This week, hip-hop suffered a painful loss with the sudden passing of our brother, Prodigy,” Lil’ Kim noted. “His pen painted vivid pictures of street life. He made what was ugly sound beautiful.”
Havoc added, “For over 20 years, he and I went through it all and seen it all. I’m going to miss my dude. This loss is painful, but the lyrical legacy he left us will impact the culture forever. Rest in peace, Prodigy. My brother.”
Memorial services for Prodigy were held Thursday at Frank E. Campbell, popularly known as “The Funeral Chapel.” Services for the Educated Rapper were held last Thursday at Brooklyn’s House of the Lord Church. T.C. was memorialized June 15 in Connecticut.