Zion I on The Jacka: “We Need to Rep His Spirit Like He Always Repped For Us”

[Ed. note: As promised, we've been reaching out to the local hip-hop community to hear stories about The Jacka following the MC's tragic death last night following a shooting in Oakland. Here's a note from Zumbi of the legendary Bay Area hip-hop duo Zion I.]

I first got hip to the Jacka thru his song “Barney (More Crime).” I was infatuated by his marriage of complex street narrative mixed with genuine spirituality. It tripped me out, and made me a fan for life instantly. Now, I can generally appreciate street music, but I don't get down with gratuitous hyper violence. What Jacka brought to the game was the dichotomy of striving for something more, while still being stuck in the downtrodden stress of the hood. His music is real to put it bluntly.
[jump] I first met Jacka at the Hella Fresh at the Fillmore in the year 2005. He came backstage without an entourage, humble and eager-eyed. We exchanged pounds and he expressed how excited he was about Hip Hop just being in the Fillmore. I immediately recognized why I connected so deeply with his sound. Here was a man who completely embodied his words. He was not a studio thug, but a sensitive and articulate artist embedded in street culture. His posture was relaxed and his words were genuine. He was down to earth and super chill. I knew that I wanted to work with him in some capacity, because the respect was instant, tangible.

Since that meeting, we've done dozens of shows together, including the Fresh Coast tour in 2009. I got to know him on that tour as easy going, and hella funny. He was just real. He was one of those authentic souls that has been thru the fire. I have found his character to be a rare gem in a sea of imitators, haters, and bullshitters.

We also recorded two songs together … “Dream” on his Tear Gas album, and “Dank” off of my Vs. mixtape. The crazy thing is that I had tried to get him on the new Zion I EP to drop a verse on the song “Unity,” about the tension between the police and the black community a month or so back. He was never able to send the verse, so I just figured that I'd catch him on the next round.

Last night, I realized that there would not be a next round. I am in shock. I am hurt. I am deeply saddened that this man has been taken away from us, and mainly, his family. I wish that we were angry at his life being taken, instead of just being sad. The senseless murder of our young men takes many forms, and they all sicken me.

I will remember my brother. I will not forget what he has given me, us. I pray that we here in the Bay Area can begin to stand together truly unified under the banner of our culture. We need to rep his spirit like he always repped for us. To the Jacka, I salute you big bruh. You will be missed. Rest in power…my brother.

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