The Sad Tale of Beast Coast Architect and Pro Era Emcee Capital STEEZ

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Jamal Dewar tweeted the words "The end" on Dec. 23, 2012. The next day he took his own life. He was 19.

The news of his passing spread rapidly when his friend Jovaughn Scott tweeted his condolences. Scott is better known as rapper Joey Bada$$ of Flatbush's Pro Era clique, second only to A$AP Mob on a list titled Next Big Thing in New York. Dewar rapped, too. He was better known as Capital STEEZ.

His mysterious and untimely death has cast STEEZ as a kind of a cult figure in Flatbush's thriving hip-hop scene. The lack of official information concerning his suicide has led to conspiracy theories sprouting like weeds in the fertile soil of the Internet. Speculation about his mental health has also run rampant.

For instance: STEEZ believed he'd become a Baphomet, an occult deity invoked by the Church of Satan. Another theory posited that STEEZ passed a week after a meeting between Jay-Z and Joey Bada$$. The Illuminati had STEEZ killed. On they went, and on they go.

Capital STEEZ began rapping in 2009 (known then as Jay Steez), but things really took off for the gifted lyricist just over a year ago, when he guested on Bada$$'s "Survival Tactics." STEEZ raps with vim and precision on the track. Its video features him and Bada$$ descending on Wall Street in panda masks. The song became an underground anthem and STEEZ took off. To date, nearly 3 million people have watched the two rapping pandas take Wall Street. Next came STEEZ's AmeriKKKan Korruption mixtape, which firmly established him as a talent to be reckoned with and as Pro Era's second in command.

STEEZ is credited with bringing together Pro Era with like-minded groups Flatbush Zombies and the Underachievers under the umbrella known as Beast Coast. Together, the three groups are creating some of the city's most acclaimed hip-hop. Beast Coast are currently finishing up a national tour that sees them back in New York at Gramercy Theatre on April 20. The homecoming is being billed as "a concert in honor of late Pro Era co-founder Capital STEEZ."

"STEEZ is the best thinker I know; he taught me how to think," says the Underachievers' Issa Dash. "Beast Coast wouldn't exist without him. He was the one who brought the idea to me, that we needed to link all groups."

This family of artists shares a geographical bond—"Coming live from Flatbush Junction," as STEEZ himself once rapped—but also a belief in New Age spirituality. Songs from Beast Coast artists are filled with copious references to the "third eye" of perception and allusions to astral traveling (often with a little help from psychedelics). STEEZ and the Underachievers refer to themselves as "indigos"—a reference to a theory from the 1970s that claims children radiating an indigo-colored aura are blessed with higher-than-normal intuition, and thus capable of supernatural feats. Dash wants to imbue his music with a mysticism rarely seen in rap, a goal he credits to STEEZ. "He got me thinking outside the box," says Dash. "He told me, 'Let's try and put the fuckin' holes in the dimensions.'"

STEEZ's desire to puncture the dimensions was bringing him to some odd, dark places. There's ample evidence online that the abyss he was gazing into had begun to gaze back.

In a video shot in March for his song "Free the Robots," STEEZ sits on a couch in a dimly lit room, getting high while watching news and pop culture on TV. In it he raps paranoid sentiments about being forgotten by God, the soon-to-come apocalypse, and how the "Illuminati tryna read my mind/With a eagle eye."

In a video on the Mass Appeal website in October, STEEZ claimed he could astral project and see "deeper into the future." He also made reference to "some 47 shit." The number held much significance to the rapper, appearing often in his rhymes, and on the cover of his mixtape. STEEZ's last tweet came on a date—12/23/12—that adds up to 47.

On July 11 he used his Facebook wall to announce that "DOOMSDAY" would occur in 2047. On the same day a fan asked him, via Facebook, why—with the powers of transcendence he claimed to possess—he didn't just break free from this reality and create his own world. His reply: "That is exactly what I am about to do. #47shit," and a vague prediction that, before the year ended, an "Alchemist" would rise up and reveal the key to world peace. He then added, "Eye think it's me."

The director of "Free the Robots," K.R.S.P.'s Luke Choi, recalls STEEZ being "zoned out" during the shoot in April. He remembers STEEZ telling him he planned to quit rapping to "become a superhero" and that there had been a "shift in the dimension" that meant he had to "get out."

Until, finally, he did.

In addition to this week's concert in his honor, Bada$$ recently announced that Capital KING, a posthumous compilation of STEEZ's music, was in the works. It, sadly, will truly be "The end."

Joey Bada$$ & Pro Era, Flatbush Zombies, and Underachievers perform at Gramercy Theatre on April 20, 7 p.m., $15, thegramercytheatre.com

 
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12 comments
prettiboi69
prettiboi69

DAMN SUCKS HOW GOOD EMCEES DIE WHEN THEY DROP THAT TRUTH AND KNOWLEDGE ABOUT SOCIETY!

james
james

Beautifully written piece; enjoyed the read!

Letizia Cuscela
Letizia Cuscela

Amos Oz and Abraham Yehoshua have humiliated themselves wanting to humiliate Samer Issawi, the Palestinian patriot dying in Israeli jails for a prolonged hunger strike. They have degraded to act purely suicidal his painful battle for the right to a fair and motivated trial, inviting him to give up because peace and justice for him, his people, Palestine, is about to take place. A wicked lie. But this is Samer Issawi, in the words that he addressed to the Israelis, an appeal so overwhelming universal to call to the responsibility of men of culture in the whole world: "I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity - to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones. I have not heard one of you interfere to stop the loud wail of death, it’s as if everyone of you has turned into gravediggers, and everyone wears his military suit: the judge, the writer, the intellectual, the journalist, the merchant, the academic, and the poet. And I cannot believe that a whole society was turned into guards over my death and my life, or guardians over settlers who chase after my dreams and my trees. Do not listen to those generals and those dusty myths, for the defeated will not remain defeated, and the victor will not remain a victor. History isn’t only measured by battles, massacres and prisons, but by peace with the Other and the self. Israelis: Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory. We ask you too to listen to this voice, immediately mobilizing yourselves in a global campaign for his release before it is too late.

Tamdewae
Tamdewae

Wow everyone knows steez but no knows "jamal dewar". Jamal dewar is not his birth name. You know the saying" dead man tells no tale". We all can speculate and play the guessing game. But the reality is my brother Courtney Everald Dewar JR. Is not here to speak for himself. Everyone had an inclination that something was "different" about "steez". We buried him. We still in mourning. We the real source.

Tamdewae
Tamdewae

Wow everyone knows steez but no knows "jamal dewar". Jamal dewar is not his birth name. You know the saying" dead man tells no tale". We all can speculate and play the guessing game. But the reality is my brother Courtney Everald Dewar JR. Is not here to defend himself. Everyone had an inclination that something was "different" about "steez". We buried him. We still in mourning. We the real source.

Tamdewae
Tamdewae

Wow everyone knows steez but no knows "jamal dewar". Jamal dewar is not his birth name. You know the saying" dead man tells no tale". We all can speculate and play the guessing game. But the reality is my brother Courtney Everald Dewar JR. Is not here to defend himself. Everyone had an inclination that something was "different" about "steez". We buried him. We still in mourning. We the real source.

YAPPARIHIPHOP
YAPPARIHIPHOP

@asaakim ありがとうございます!Steezの件気になってます。UAのIssa君なども参考に、そういう関連ちょくちょくディグっているのですが、まず彼の世界観についてちゃんと理解するのに時間かかりそうです。w

asaakim
asaakim

@YAPPARIHIPHOP いえいえ、そちらのサイトで、この件(ここまでの流れを)、日本語でまとめられたものを読みたいなああ、という一心でございまあす

gva2047
gva2047

@jesset1196 Yeah, this is actually one of his blood sisters. He had a few, and she's right. That was his name. I didn't know him personally but have done quite a bit of research.

 @Fuckoff  Think of how inconsiderate your being to the man's blood sister before you say some ignorant shit like that. How would you feel? So if you don't have that kind of human decency the you shut the fuck up and fuck off.

YAPPARIHIPHOP
YAPPARIHIPHOP

@asaakim お!自分の納得できる段階までたどり着ければ是非やってみようか思いまーす。あざす!

 
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