By Meredith Kennedy and Miranda Lin
The night before rapper Mike Beck was scheduled to perform a Halloween show in Boston, he was shot to death on the corner of Logan Street and Belmont Avenue in East New York. Details of the Friday night shooting are still unclear.
Late that evening, friend and fellow hip-hop musician Tydro Mazin, 30, waited at his apartment with his children for Beck to show up and finalize their plans for the next day’s performance. Mazin fell asleep before Beck arrived. Early Saturday morning Mazin called Beck wondering why he never showed. “I called him and it went right to voicemail, which was strange, but I didn’t think much of it,” Mazin said Monday afternoon. Five minutes later, Mazin’s phone rang. Beck was dead.
Beck was 36-years-old and in the midst of a budding hip-hop career. “He’s the most ambitious person I have ever known, as far as music is concerned,” Mazin said. “You would never catch him sleeping because he didn’t want to miss a minute of anything.” In a short time Beck rose through the hip-hop ranks, working with such stars as Fat Joe, Busta Rhymes, Bone Thugz-n-Harmony and Raekwon.
The police have reported very little about the details surrounding his death, though there is speculation among Beck’s followers that the shooting occurred during a botched robbery. Beck, Mazin said, was alone when he died and no witnesses have been reported, further complicating the investigation. Police say that after being shot in the upper leg, Beck struggled to Fountain Avenue where he was picked up by emergency crews and transported to Brookdale Hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:20 p.m.
It it still unclear where, precisely, Beck was shot — on the street, or, as others speculate, in a truck.
Mazin described Beck as man with few enemies. “I heard a lot of conflicting stories,” he said, “so I don’t want to say anything definite about it. I was just devastated, for real.”
On his website, Beck describes a difficult childhood growing up in East New York. His mother, father and step-father all struggled with drug and alcohol addictions, leaving Beck, his brother and three half-sisters to be raised mostly by their grandmother. At the age of 13, Beck wrote, he turned to the streets and began committing crimes. At 17, he was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in a murder.
It was during his time in jail, acccording to Beck’s MySpace biography, that he was “awakened to a new skill that he found within himself.” After being released from prison, he was invited by Bill Blass, a man Beck had met during his time on the streets and was well-known for mentoring aspiring hip-hop artists, to join rapper Rakim on the 18th Letter Tour. Later in his career, Beck was a part of the group Kill All Rats, also known as K.A.R., where he enjoyed his first real success with the single “U Can Tell I’m From NY.” More recently, Beck separated from K.A.R. and created the media company, Heavy Bank Entertainment.
Mazin recalled that their friendship evolved because they were both looking to pursue a new musical direction and had both played the same roles in their former groups. “He literally got me out of a mental slump after I strayed away from my group.” Mazin said. “I was stagnant as far as music was concerned and he gave me the energy to keep moving and do my own thing. I owe him a lot.
“He was more than just an artist. He was an organizer. He dedicated his life to music and everything entertainment.”
Over the past six months, Beck and Mazin were developing what they referred to as a silent partnership. Not only did they work on a lot of songs and projects together, but they would introduce each other to new people.
“He was a networker to the nth degree,” Mazin said. During one of their last, the two discussed finishing up the last five or six songs on their mix tape after the show they were scheduled to perform in Boston the night after his death. “We was all hyped about it,” Mazin said.
In the wake of Beck’s death, his friends and family have been organizing a mural in his honor, recording a tribute song, and conducting video interviews from people he influenced during his career. His fans flooded Twitter, HeavyBank.com and his MySpace page with words of praise and grief. “I won’t let your legacy die,” wrote his younger sister Tasha. “We will make sure people buy and play your music because that’s what you were about, making hits and doing your shows.” Brooklyn rapper True Sun Ali added, “It’s hard to fight back the tears but we gotta stay strong and continue to represent for a leader that was taken too soon. You will truly be missed.”
In addition to his mourning friends and fans, Beck leaves behind a wife and son. His wake will be held tomorrow at Grace Funeral Parlor in East New York from 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.