By Meredith Kennedy and Miranda Lin
Several police officers stood guard in front of Grace Funeral Home in East New York on Wednesday afternoon as family and friends from the rap community wearing black t-shirts that read “RIP Mike Beck” gathered to pay their respects to 36-year-old artist Mike Becht, known as Mike Beck in the music industry. Even more visitors were expected to attend the late viewing.
Outside of the funeral home, close family members and other rappers who had worked with Beck waited for the wake to begin. Beck’s aunt, Vanessa, 52, wearing dark sunglasses and a black leather jacket, expressed her frustration over her nephew’s life cut short. Inside the mood was somber. One woman collapsed into her neighbor’s arms weeping. Beck’s son, Michael, was one of the first to arrive, dressed in a suit and tie. He was greeted by Beck’s sister, Tasha Shuler, who clutched her young nephew and said, “He lived for you.”
It has been almost a week since Beck was killed and there is still speculation about the shooting late Friday night. A close friend who has recorded several tracks with Beck, known as A.G., said he has heard several different accounts of the shooting. “Some say he was visiting a girl, others say he was going to settle some beef,” said A.G., who found out about his friend’s death over the Internet. Beck’s aunt, meanwhile, believes someone tried to rob him before he was shot on the corner of Logan Street and Belmont Avenue. He struggled one block back to his truck while the ambulance was called to the scene. “He was determined to live,” said Shuler.
Beck was killed as he was turning his life around. As a young man in East New York he had run afoul of the police. But after spending time in prison for his involvement in a homicide, he decided to focus on music, which had long been a passion. “He was rapping since age five,” his aunt said. With the encouragement of his close friend and hypeman Bill Blass, Beck began to establish his hip-hop career and distance himself from crime.
But Beck also used his years of experience and networking to help others along the way. “Mike was the bridge between artists trying to make it in the industry and artists who already had,” A.G. said while looking at a picture on his cell phone of him and Beck. “Just when everything was coming together, this happened.”
This is not the first time a death has shaken Brooklyn’s hip-hop community. Two years ago, Beck’s mentor Bill Blass died, and more recently, an artist who goes by Big Lou also passed away. “Rapping is just a whole different world,” said Beck’s uncle Mike, for whom he was named.
Since Friday, there have been nearly 100 comments posted on allhiphop.com in honor of Beck. The homepage of his website, heavybank.com, also pays tribute to his life and includes a link to make donations to Beck’s family. “There are no words to describe Mike Beck,” said Beck’s cousin as he entered the funeral home. “That’s all that needs to be said.”