Pro Era Producer Chuck Strangers Remembers Capital Steez
Exclusive: The producer for many of Joey Bada$$ and Capital Steez's songs recalls hearing the news of his death and talks unreleased material.
Following !llmind’s B.L.A.P. producer showcase in S.O.B.’s (February 11th), Pro Era-producer Chuck Strangers discussed where he was when he first about the tragic passing of Pro Era emcee, Capital Steez.
“I was just in my pad chilling and I saw one of the other members of Pro Era named A La $ole,” Strangers said speaking exclusively with HipHopDX. “He tweeted some shit and it was just so weird. So I called Kirk Knight—he’s also in Pro Era. I was like ‘Yo where’s [Capital] Steez right now?’ and he was like ‘Yo he’s gone.’ But I already knew before I even called him. I already knew and I was just like ‘Aw fuck.’”
“I was just tripping and I hung up the phone,” he continued. “First thing I did I was put on R. Kelly 'I Wish' and then I just rolled up the fattest spliff you ever seen and just took it to the face for my homie. That shit tore me apart. I still think about him everyday I wake up.”
Born Jamal Dewar, Capital Steez took his own life on December 24, 2012. Steez was a cornerstone of Brooklyn’s Pro Era collective and one of Hip Hop’s most promising young emcees.
Chuck Strangers Reveals Capital Steez's Influence
“It may not look it because [his passing] was self-inflicted, but he was the most positive person I ever met,” Strangers added. “Steez believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, bro. I always made beats but I never considered myself a producer or a beat-maker. I had many opportunities to like get into the game and shit but I would always turn them down because I’m like ‘Yo, I don’t make beats for real. I just make beats.’ It’s a hobby.”
The “Daily Routine”-producer directly credits Capital Steez with steering him away from the “wrong thing” and focusing on music.
“I used to play him some of my beats and he’d be like ‘Yo, you are nice, bro. Why don’t you ever try to be somebody?,’” he described.
Strangers continued: “And at this time I’m fucking doing what I’m not supposed to do. I’m not even in school. [Capital Steez said] ‘You should stop doing all that dumb shit and be a producer, my nigga, and your raps are cold.’ From then I started working on AmeriKKKan Korruption. I produced like five joints for that mixtape that never came out because we recorded them somewhere else and the dude wasn’t able to get the songs to him in time enough to fucking release the shit and he really wanted to drop it. He was like ‘Alright, my nigga, I’m gonna have to leave you off this project.’ I didn’t feel no way, you know. But man, those were some big songs. But you’ll hear ’em. They’ll see the light of day.”
Chuck Strangers also reflected on a specific recording session (presumably for “The Lounge”) that truly exemplified Capital Steez’s talent. “It was me, Steez and this dude named Uno Hype, right, and we’re making this song,” he said.
“At first it was supposed to be only me and Uno on the song. Uno raps his verse and I rap my verse and I’m like ‘Dag, this shit is still missing something though.’ We [were] like ‘Yo, Steez needs to put a verse on here.’ He’s sleeping on my couch ‘cause he’s just too high. So I go over to wake him up like, ‘Yo, wake up, add a verse to this song.’ He goes ‘Huh, okay.’ Gets up, murks it in one take. Murks it one take! I was like ‘Yo, this kid is fucking special.’”
After laying the verse, Strangers says Steez immediately went back to sleep. “He was a trip,” said the Brooklyn-native.
“Talking about him makes me miss him a lot. I just feel like it didn’t have to be that way, you know. But—as fucked up as this may sound—I feel like kind of everything happens for a reason, though. Maybe, I dunno, maybe this is all part of God’s plan or something. I just pray for the best and expect the worst, you know what I’m saying. That’s my motto.”
Chuck Strangers produced “Daily Routine,” “Summer Knights,” “Suspect” and “FromdaTomb” on Joey Bada$$' highly regarded 2012 mixtape, 1999. He is also working on the Pro Era frontman’s next project which is still untitled.
On February 11th, Strangers was featured during !llmind’s Celebrity B.L.A.P. producer showcase along with Just Blaze, Buckwild, Statik Selektah, A$AP Ty, Needlz, and Jahlil Beats in New York City’s S.O.B.’s nightclub. An acronym for Beats Love Alcohol Party, B.L.A.P. was created in September 2009 as a way for aspiring and established producers to showcase their sounds in a party atmosphere while building relationships with each other.
Celebrity B.L.A.P. was hosted by PNC Radio’s station manager, A King and Combat Jack of “The Combat Jack Show.”
Capital Steez was included in HipHopDX’s list of Top Artists To Watch For In 2013.