Mr. Magic, one of hip-hop’s early pioneering radio DJs, died four years ago today from complications of a heart attack. Mr. Magic, real name John Rivas, debuted his seminal radio show, Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack, in 1981 on WHBI-FM in New York City. The show would become the first exclusively hip-hop radio show to be aired on a major station in the country.
Over the years, Mr. Magic would guide the careers of many aspiring artists in hip-hop, most famously rap’s first “superproducer,” Marley Marl, who would work as an assistant on Magic’s radio show. Magic was involved in a famous rivalry with fellow radio pioneer DJ Red Alert during the 1980s. This battle would be fought in proxy on wax by Magic’s protegé, Marley Marl’s Juice Crew and Red Alert’s protegés, Boogie Down Productions, in one of the most famous battles in hip-hop.
In the 32 years since the debut of Rap Attack, Magic’s contributions are widely recognized in the culture as many artists have chosen to recognize the DJ’s contributions to the culture in song, most famously being on The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” in 1994.
Rest In Peace, Mr. Magic. He was 53 years old.