With the recent passing of Baatin of Slum Village, many of us have found this to be a bit too much. For fans of the group and Hip Hop in general, one is left wondering how in the world two mainstays from a group could be gone before 40? It’s been two years and I am still going to parties where DJs are doing tribute sets for producer and Slum Village co-founder Jay Dee aka J-Dilla. Some people say these tribute sets are done because dude was so dope and he was.. but I think deep inside we play Dilla’s music to reconnect. It’s a way for us to consciously and unconsciously mourn and heal although we don’t all openly admit it. With Baatin passing there is no doubt tribute sets will intensify.I can only imagine what Baatin’s passing means to a city like Detroit which is still mourning the deaths of J-Dilla and Proofwho was the unofficial mayor of the Motorcity. How has it effected people’s psyche?
I know in the Bay Area where there was a rash of high profile deaths within including the passing of 2Pac, Mac Dre, Cougnut, Mike Dream, Hitman and Mr. Cee to name a few, people are still trying to make sense of things. Same thing in Los Angles where folks within a 2 month period were faced with the loss of three icons DJ Dusk, Michael Mixxin’ Moore and Skeeter Rabbit of the Electric Boogaloos. In Houston people saw the quick passings of DJ Screw, Big Hawk, Big Moe and of course Pimp C. You can’t say this doesn’t have an effect on people’s outlooks considering so many of us live vicariously through these iconic figures. They become soundtracks and important backdrops to our world.
The death of Baatin is troubling because it was unexpected and it comes on the heals of the death of Michael Jackson. There’s been little time to even began processing. We had to deal with the shock of his death and then reconcile ourselves with the media onslaught that followed where one too many pundits were gleeful in taking an adversarial point of view. In short we could not grieve in peace. Many of us were reeling from Michael while simultaneously still struggling to put our heads around the deaths of other high profile figures ranging from comedian Bernie Mac to singer Isaac Hayes and James Brown to entertainer Eartha Kitt to Civil Rights icon Coretta Scott–King all of these folks and many more have left us within the past two years.
Adding to our angst are what sometimes appears to be the routine passings that occur everyday in our communities. I was just in Omaha, Nebraska for their big event and came to find out that a whooping 15 people had been killed within a 10 day period. Sadly this is not all that unsual when you state this to people. We’ve gotten used to early deaths to the point that we have concluded that death is part of life and we keep it moving. We’ve become hardened to it. For some they say there is no time to grieve. But if we adapt that sort of attitude- then we best be prepared for the unintended consequences which is ‘No time to grieve-No time to live and No time to care’. I’ll let that sink in for a minute.
When death becomes such a matter of fact occurance in our lives, then we behave callously in other areas. We stop looking for ways to uplift ourselves and our communities. Life offers little or no hope and our full participation in things ranging from community activities to even parenting is next to impossible. It simply doesn’t happen. We’re so busy trying to escape the pain that sudden and early losses bring that we create a cycle that eventually brings more death. To not properly mourn and to constantly seek escape means we behave recklessly.
From this day foward lets promise ourselves to take time to reflect on those who have gone before us. Cherish their good parts. Learn from their mistakes and lets take some crucial first steps to love one anotther and live fully. The video we put together is dedicated to those who left too early. Its taken from the song ‘Too Many’ from spoken Word artist D-Knowledge. Its off his album ‘All that and a Bag of Words’. Check for it and lets stop that trend of early deaths.
Something to Ponder