jimmy1.jpgHip-hop meant everything to Dipset affiliate Stack Bundles. It was more than just music. It was his creative outlet—a way for him and his Squad Up crew to put Far Rockaway, Queens on the map. Tragically, though, it was the same neighborhood he embraced that ultimately took his life. On the morning of June 11, 2007, Rayquon “Stack Bundles” Elliot was murdered outside of his Queens apartment in what appears to be a robbery attempt. His death came at a time when he was on the cusp of greatness. After grindin’ on the mixtape circuit and appearing on various DJ Clue mixtapes with artists such as Joe Budden and Fabolous, Stack signed to Jim Jones’ Byrdgang Records imprint last year. Capo wasted no time thrusting the rap rookie into the spotlight. In just one year, Stack appeared on Jones’ third solo album, Hustler’s P.O.M.E., A Dipset Xmas and the M.O.B. (Members of Byrdgang) mixtape. Before he died, Stack was recording material for his debut album and working with Jones on a Byrdgang compilation. In a somber interview with XXLMag.com, Jim Jones reminisces about his fallen homie and lets the world know he’s going to do everything in his power to keep Stack Bundles’ legacy alive.

This must be a tough time for you. How are you holding up?
I’m holdin’ up. I [lived] a very tough life. I grew up as a strong individual. Certain things in life make you take two steps back. But you gotta keep your will up and [your] hope alive. You gotta keep faith. I can’t slow up now ’cause Stack’s spirit wouldn’t want me to slow up now. He was a great dude. He was an inspiration for me. He was one of the main reasons why I continue to do music. He had so much energy and so much to prove. He gave me that feeling again.

Where were you when you heard the news?
I was sleeping. I kept hearing my phone ring. I flipped it open and I saw a couple of calls. I was like, “I gotta see what’s going on.” And when I called my man Chubby, he told me what happened. It’s been a downhill spiral ever since then.

Despite all your success, do you feel as if you can’t escape incidents like these?
If you listen to my music, I tell people all the time this rap game is just like the crack game because we can still end up dead or in jail. Unfortunately, [Dipset affiliate] Max B is incarcerated and Stack Bundles had his life taken by a nigga who don’t know what life means or what the value of life is. A pure dickhead took his life, man. It just goes to show you that life as musicians and entertainers, we still takin’ a hellafied risk out here. It really is no different than the streets. When we tryin’ to make this money, you got haters, you got jealousy, you got envy, you got people that just don’t want to see you make it. And when you come up in the projects it’s like a barrel full of crabs and it’s hard to come up outta there. Fortunately, Stack was having a hell of a time in his life. He really was enjoying life. He was pursuing the only thing that he wanted to do and that was the music. That was his dream. I will let his dream live on. He can vicariously live through me. We’re gonna hold Stack down. We’re gonna go over-hard, because I got so much to prove to people now.

How did you and Stack hook up in the first place?
I used to listen to Stack’s music all the time. I met him five or six years ago. He approached me in the club and had this big blue mink on. He was young, still probably a teenager. He was like, “Yo, I’m Stack Bundles, I need to get on a song.” I was like, “Whoa, whoa, man, what’s up with you? Who’s your boss? Who you work for?” He was like, “I be with Clue and them.” So I said, “You tell Clue to holla at me, you know how I do things.” He got a little offended, but I was still listenin’ to his music and he did this freestyle to this 50 Cent beat. He said, “I know you love Cam and that Dipset shit/Screamin’ squad down/Disrespectin’ my shit/I know you don’t love me.” When I heard that, I asked somebody to get him to the studio for me. This was about two years ago. Got him to the studio and [I] made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. He was ready to ride, change his life up and go for the gusto. That’s exactly what the fuck we was doin’—goin’ for the gusto.

What was it about him that made you believe in him as an artist?
I don’t know if I saw him as an artist, I just knew what he was going through in his life. I understood his life, coming from the projects. He had his own movement behind him. He had some strong niggas and he knew he had to make it good for them to get out of the hood. [He was] a pretty boy and had a lot of swag. He loved the fast life. Everything he talked about he was livin’. That’s what I could really appreciate—someone substantial, as opposed to an artist who just loves music and he’s gonna talk about somebody else’s life. Where we from, this is Dipset/Byrdgang, we talk about the things that we go through on a daily basis. We ain’t livin’ a façade here. As you can see, this is all real, man.

People are wondering why Stack was still living in the projects. Did you ever talk to him about leaving that sort of environment alone?
I offered Stack townhouses and apartments in Jersey, but he was just so stuck on he can’t leave the people that he grew up with. They all need to leave together or else he’s just gonna wait for his turn to make it and they all gonna get up out of there gradually. Far Rock was his haven. It was so important for him to put Far Rock on [and that] people understood where he was from. A person of so much hatred just robbed him of that. All he was trying to do was uplift his hood. This is what he really believed in. I don’t want people to think he didn’t have no opportunities, because the boy had plenty of opportunities to do whatever it is he wanted. But, unfortunately, you can’t force a grown man to do anything. You can give a person an opportunity, but it’s up to them to take it. What he did was, he took the opportunity in life I gave him, as far as the music, a new career and life. But, as far as his personal [life] and the dream he had, and the goals and obstacles he wanted to get over, he wanted to keep it there and do it on his own regard. He was very, very strong-minded about that. We argued numerous amounts of times about that. I’m going through a lot with myself with things like that, because I know what people may think and shit like that. But, trust me, people don’t know the half. I’ma fighter. I know the story. I know what goes on out there in them streets. I try to set an example way before anybody gets caught up.

What about his music? Are you gonna release the album he was working on before he died?
We gonna put out a Stack album, hopefully by September. I’m about to put out a single on him. He was currently doing the Byrdgang album. But I think I’m gonna fall back from that and do this dedication album to Stack. This was all he dreamed of—puttin’ an album out and gettin’ a video going and things like that. We was on the verge of doing that, we was about to shoot the video for the first Byrdgang video in about 10 days called “Make A Chick Go Ooh.” It’s just fucked up, man.

Do you know the motive behind his murder?
I don’t know. They say the good die young, so I guess my days are numbered. That’s how I take it. If the good die young, my days are numbered. That’s as serious as it can be. The same rules apply to everybody when you playin’ in the ghetto. We learn everything we can from the hood—how to hustle, how to grind, our ambition. When we fall, we get back up. But the wolves and the savages are still there. You cannot get caught slippin’ in the hood because the hood has no love, ultimately. It’s serious, no matter who you are or what power you possess. Please, be smart about the things you do. Don’t get caught slippin’ for nobody, man. It’s terrible out there. People still starvin’, people still tryin’ to come up and the value of life, the value of Black life is damn near nothin’.

If you knew anything, would you go to the cops with any information?
That’s not in my position to go to the cops and things like that. I wasn’t there. There’s a certain way we handle ourselves out here. There’s nothin’ wrong with police. The police do a hell of a job when it comes to crime and things like that. I hope that they do their job as well as they can when it comes to Stack Bundles. But everyone knows what life is about when you come up in [the] hood. Certain things you just can’t talk, there’s an unwritten rule. People know exactly what I mean. But we have nothin’ against police.

What’s your fondest memory of Stack?
The first time I took him to Miami for a big ass party inside Club Prive. Gabriel Union was in there partying, he went crazy when he seen [her] in the V.I.P. He was just so elated to know his life was about to change. He started to see what was going on. He got so drunk that night. He left out the club so drunk he was in the car with his head in his lap. He went to the room that night and he had, let’s just say he had a nice little entourage with him and he fell asleep on ’em. The next day, we started snappin’ on him all day, like, “You fell asleep, ah-ha.” Stack…man, he’s a good kid. I miss him and every experience. Everything that I got to do with him I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. As far as talent, there wasn’t nobody that could fuck with him when it came to rap—at all. He was way more talented that I will ever be and that’s serious.