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Danny Adams, Senior Writer

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On February 23, 2012 the hip-hop collective Pro Era released a video for the song Survival Tactics off of Joey Bada$$’s mixtape, 1999. This video would go viral and launch the group into fame. The last line of the song “Little weapon, Code Name: Smith & Wesson / And you’ll be quick to catch a bullet like an interception / If your man’s tryin’ to disrespect it / Send a message and it’s over in a millisecond” written by Capital Steez was put in XXL’s list of top 25 closing lines alongside hip-hop legends such as Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Q-tip, and Nas to name a few. Capital Steez was predicted to be the next star to come out of Pro Era after fellow MC Joey BAda$$, but unfortunately Steez took his own life on December 24, 2012, just days after the group released their first mixtape. But why would this promising young rapper take his life at just 19 especially with the collective he founded finally gaining mainstream recognition and with two brand new mixtapes being released just that year? Courtney Jamal Dewar Jr., more well known as Capital Steez was born on July 7, 1993 in New York to Jamaican immigrant parents. He formed Pro Era in 2011 while attending Edward R. Murrow High School. Pretty soon a video on Worldstar of Joey freestyling got him a record deal, but he refused to sign without being able to take his fellow Pro Era members with him. Eventually all of Pro Era was signed, but all the attention seemed to go to Joey while Steez and fellow members seemed to be left behind. Steez seems to have been the mastermind behind The Beast Coast movement that includes groups such as the Flatbush Zombies, the Underachievers, and of course Pro Era. On the day Steez ended his life he posted his final tweet that read “the end” and then jumped off a building ending his life and career. One theory suggests that the realization of what the music industry is what drove Steez to commit suicide. The fact that he was not receiving the recognition he believed he deserved may have pushed him beyond what he could handle. Another theory that surrounds his death is that Steez saw the hypocrisy, corruption, and conformity in the world around him and he believed that nothing he did would not stop this. The thought of being in a world that functioned like this may have crushed the spirit of the rapper. Other theories suggest the rapper was a schizophrenic that thought he was a deity and would reincarnate or take on a new form after death and saw his suicide as a leap into his next stage of life. He was known to have an obsession with the number 47 (Joey’s most recent album was actually released on April 7, 2017 or 4-7-17) and was known to frequently smoke marijuana as well as take psychedelic drugs. These habits may have taken a toll on the rapper’s mental health and planted the seeds for some of his more controversial beliefs. The song Free the Robots which starts with “Illuminati tryna read my mind with an eagle eye/And the haze got me thinkin, why/We killed Osama and plenty of innocent people died/ We should see the signs but we Stevie blind/ No disrespect to the man or legend, but/ I’m sick and tired of asking my brethren if/ It all ends in 2011/ Will God come thru or will he actually forget us?/ Cause apocalypse is getting closer/ But they’re more focused on that lil youth sippin soda” highlights many of the ideas supporting these theories. Truthfully we will never know why Capital Steez decided to commit suicide, but if you listen to his layered and thought provoking verses in either Pro Era songs, or if you listen to his solo mixtape Amerikkkan Korruption, it is easy to see just how much potential this young man had as an artist.

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