Famous people have been passing with an alarming pace lately. It’s weird. It’s weirder when it’s someone you met or hung out with.
I’m not going to front: Roc Raida didn’t know me from anyone, but we did sit down and chat a couple of times. The first of those times was on July 27, 1997 at The Crocodile Café in Seattle. Just before the X-Men’s sound check (during which I took the photos here), I sat down in the Crocodile’s back bar with Rob Swift, Total Eclipse, Mista Sinista, and Roc Raida. I was wearing a Deep Concentration tour t-shirt that had a picture of Roc on the front. San Francisco’s Om Records had put out a compilation of Turntablists — including the X-Men — and the subsequent tour (made up of a rotating cast of beat jugglers and scratch masters) had come through Seattle the night before. As we settled in to chat and I turned on my tape recorder, Roc Raida was noticeably distracted. I asked my first question anyway, but he ignored it, saying, “I want that shirt.”
Roc Raida worked with everyone from O.C. (on the classic Word…Life LP from 1994), Big Pun (R.I.P.), Big L (R.I.P.), and Immortal Technique to Linkin Park, Mike Patton, The X-Men/X-Ecutioners (of course), and, more recently, Busta Rhymes. He was known for his innovative body tricks and lightning-fast yet super precise scratch moves, and they won him countless DMC and ITF competitions. He was dubbed “Grandmaster” by the O. G. Grandmaster himself, Grandmaster Flash. He was, simply put, one of the best doing it.
My thoughts go out to his family, friends, and all who knew him. Hip-hop and the world have suffered a great loss today.
Rest in peace, Anthony Williams.
Here’s Roc Raida’s winning routine from DMC 1995 [runtime: 6:20]: