R.I.P. November 15, 1964 – July 15, 2001

poetic.jpgSix years ago, Anthony Ian Berkeley—better known to fans as Too Poetic from ’90s horrorcore group Gravediggaz—succumbed to colon cancer. Initially given only four months to live, he hung on for just over two years. It was this willingness to live and tenacity towards death that made Poetic a far contradiction to the title of his group. For that reason, his early passing left a foul taste in the mouths of many hip-hop heads, as he had so much more to contribute to this art form.

Born in Trinidad and raised in Long Island, Poetic fell in love with hip-hop early on and formed the Brothers GRYM with younger siblings Brainstorm and E Sharp in 1989. Sharp handled some of the production duties, while Poetic and Brainstorm rocked the mic. They created a buzz for themselves on the underground with their first official demo, which included notable cuts like “Circle-Circle-Dot-Dot” and “GRYMnastics.” Just when the group was close to landing a record deal, Brainstorm surprisingly decided to quit rap altogether and forced Poetic to pursue a solo career. Despite scoring an underground hit with the 12-inch single “God Made Me Funky/Poetical Terror” on Tommy Boy Records, success didn’t come easy for Poetic. The rap vet spent a brief period of time homeless before longtime friend Prince Paul offered him a spot in the supergroup Gravediggaz, which also included Frukwan from Stetsasonic and the RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. The quartet’s debut, Six Feet Deep, was released on Gee Street/Island in 1994 to high praise and introduced “horrorcore” rap to the masses. Poetic, who had by this point changed his moniker to Grym Reaper, was a stand out member because of his eccentric flow and maniacal laughter that could often be heard scratching the walls in the background.

The ingenious novelty of the Gravediggaz insanity act began to dissipate by the time the group’s 1997 sophomore effort, The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel. Poetic began to stray away from the morbid Grym Reaper side of his music and leaned more towards his philosophical side. Songs like “Repentance Day,” “Dangerous Mindz” and “Fairytalez” displayed his talent as an MC much more than his previous work. Gravediggaz, however, went through tough times shortly after the album’s release. Looking to pursue other avenues in their careers, Prince Paul and RZA—who had evolved into one of hip-hop’s most respected producers—decided to leave the group. Then, in May ’99, Poetic collapsed in his home studio and was rushed to the hospital, where doctors discovered he had an advance case of colon cancer. Lacking health insurance, the diminutive rapper saw his medical bills soar while hip-hop artists and fans tried to raise money for his costly surgery and chemotherapy. Tragically, the efforts were all for naught as Poetic died from the disease on July 15, 2001. In an effort to keep his rhyme partner’s legacy alive, Frukwan released 2002’s Nightmare in A-Minor, the final Gravediggaz’s album he and Poetic were working on before his death. Now, six years later, XXLMag.com pays tribute and respect to Poetic. On record and in life, he still holds a place in our hearts.

Last Emperor feat Poetic “One Life” Music, Magic & Myth, 2003

Gravediggaz “Mommy, What’s a Gravedigga?” 6 Feet Deep, 1994

Gravediggaz “Here Comes the Gravediggaz” 6 Feet Deep, 1994

Gravediggaz “Dangerous Mindz” The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel, 1997

Gravediggaz “Killing Fieldz” Nightmare in A-Minor, 2002

Gravediggaz “1-800 Suicide” 6 Feet Deep, 1994

Poetic Freestyle, BET Rap City

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  • M.T.

    Hip-Hop failed Poetic.

  • The G.O.D


    God bless the dead. Rest in Peace Poetic


  • ABC

    2 Cups of Blood!!!

  • Holla

    Respect to Poetic and the Gravediggaz. I used to rock with GD when i was younger. One Life is one of the best songs i’ve ever heard – classic!


    I remember GOD MADE ME FUNKY back when I was a lil shortie,that was the shit man,and as far as I am concerned,the track sample of Inner City Blues was off the fuckin chain.That is when hip-hop was hip-hop.

  • My Effin’ Opinion

    I was shocked back then to find that Prince Paul was one of the cats behind GD … It still kinda amazes me now too. He doesn’t fit the type.

    I remember the first time I heard Diary of a Madman .. horror core was cool while it lasted. It was like entertainiment within the entertainment of the music biz.

  • triplesixninja

    would be foolishly pagan
    i’m ancient as amen
    see i stay grim
    throwing flows in a pit full of pitbulls to be shaken

    Poetic-Dangerous Mindz

  • triplesixninja


  • J.R.O.

    Good shit. RIP Poetic.

  • Jhon da Analyst

    I wish I would have gotten a chance to meet him. A “friend” was going to introduce me…….it never happened. “Elimination Process” is dat shit. His verse on that track was ILLMATIC!!

  • Jhon da Analyst

    Almost had a chance to meet him through one of my “friends”. Never happened unfortunately. “Elimination Process”……his verse on that track was so sick it should have been quarantined!!

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    Gravediggaz were the SHIT!! Rest in Paradise brother…

  • maniac

    rest in peace bro’ …gravediggaz’s first album is classic …remember when new york was innovative ? oh, yeah, and i got another question : ” why rza didn’t give money to save his homie ? maybe was he too busy partying with tarantino and a bunch of bitches ? he do the same to odb…..forget it , it’s just thoughts from a french hip hop fan …..fuck that bling bling snap shit ….

  • 1stchild

    Amityville stand up we lost a great one!!!! R.I.P Poetic he was I real dude. Much love to XXLmag.com for remebering one of the lost poets true to the artform of Hip-Hop. Easy!!!!!!

  • http://www.the-ugks.com Bun B

    RIP Poetic. God Made Me Funky was my shit back in the day! Respect to Gravediggaz too.

  • dante severe

    Power Equality Allah Seed Equality. R.I.P. TOO POETIC

  • triplesixninja

    its a god damn shame that only 14 dudes have paid their respects to a true pioneer and legend of this rap shit. This makes me sad.

  • triplesixninja

    props to xxlmag for recognizing real and preserving the legacy of poetic aka grym reaper.

  • Eman

    GRavediggaz and poetic did shit rappers now a days are to afraid to do thats be original R.I.P. I like the pick cd alot even know there first one was alot rugged. these dude were shunned by the industry and just did thee own thing you do that now a days and 50 cent will call you irrelevent.

  • kenneth

    fuck poetic. dat muthafucka got my girl pregnant and he clogged my damn toilet. i hope that bitch rots in hell with his dead mother.

  • KQ

    rip poetic

  • The Real Matt Herbz

    Props to XXL for resurrecting the mental dead and shining light on Poetic. R.I.P.

  • GOD

    poetic was one of the greatest of all time. how many people made you think like him?

  • Pingback: Peace to Poetic at Duepayer University

  • http://www.Myspace.com/Gulleeboy Shacky G

    “Mommy what’s a GraveDigga” dat song hard right now today


  • TheMan

    R.Ip Poetic

  • http://www.cydalbanks.bravehost.com flexus

    lotta love from the Cydal camp POetic Grymreap RIP…definately one of th greatest emcees out der


    Damn this read brought back mad memories. i miss them days when grave diggaz, n wu tang first came out, them days was the shit. But i think actually grave diggaz “niggamortis”(yea i had the original with the bonus track “pass the shovel”) whitch by the way was the shit. Def. my favorit cd untill 36 chambers came out. but R.I.P to poetic AKA GRYM REAPER. Hip Hop will miss u. I will def. never forget his verse off the track “Trippin” n his start verse on “dangerous minds”. Dude was sick with it. Its a fucking shame.


    Gravediggaz was a great group from that era, Six Feet Deep was a great album, and Poetic was the most creative MC in the crew. R.I.P.

  • BlueSkies

    It’s really nice to see that he hasn’t been forgotten. Anthony will always live in our hearts.

    Po’ we love and miss you……..

  • http://yahoo.com lord hadze

    RIP grim from ZIM BLUES CITY ”DOMZ aka lord hadze

  • Callie

    I miss you, I remember the times we spent together, my love goes out to the Family.

  • Paw

    Rip Poetic he was truly talented