Six Rappers Who Suffered Automobile Accidents
Even though it's only Wednesday, this week has seen a number of hip-hop personalities driving recklessly. Chief Keef found himself behind bars after pushing 110 mph in a 55 mph zone, while Chris Brown is facing legal heat for a possible hit-and-run. Even Justin Bieber raised the ire of the law—as well as former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson—for driving too fast in his neighborhood.
While none of the aforementioned incidents proved fatal for any of the parties involved, not every hip-hop act has been as lucky. Now, XXL decided to take a look back at six rappers who weren't so lucky.
The Notorious B.I.G.
Perhaps one of hip-hop's most famous cases of automobile injury happened in 1996 to the Notorious B.I.G. After leaving a recording session for his impending sophomore release Life After Death...'Til Death Do Us Part—a title that was shortened to simply Life After Death—Biggie was involved in a serious car accident that shattered his left leg. In the three months following the accident, B.I.G. was confined to the hospital. The injuries he incurred during the accident proved so serious that the Brooklyn rhymer was forced to use a cane for the remainder of his life—which proved integral to helping refine his "Big Poppa" image. Biggie later rhymed about the accident on "Long Kiss Goodnight," saying, "I used to be as strong as Ripple be/'Til Lil' Cease crippled me," referencing the fact that Cease had been driving the vehicle that evening.
Biggie's protege and then-girlfriend Charli Baltimore later spoke on the accident in 2009 to VladTV. According to Baltimore, the crash not only affected Life After Death's length, but also rapper's outlook on life. "Big and I was involved in a serious car accident," she recalled. "Life After Death the album was not supposed to be a double album. It was because Big was in the hospital for three months and there was nothing left to do but work on it and recover. Puff was like, 'You're crazy to do that. Let's get an album out and do it now.' He was told he would never walk again and if he were to walk again he may have [to use] a wheelchair or a walker...to me that [accident] was a huge part of Big maturing and evolving and Life After Death coming out the way it did."
Like Biggie before him, Kanye West suffered injuries in a car accident that ultimately affected his musical output. In 2002, following a studio session in Los Angeles with Beanie Sigel, Peedi Crakk, DJ Whoo Kid and Ludacris, Yeezy got into a near-fatal car accident and flipped his vehicle. Although his actual injuries weren't life threatening—Kanye's manager at the time Gee Roberson reported that he suffered a broken jaw—they became an integral element of his early music career. Kanye's fractured jaw had to be wired shut for six months after the accident, hampering his then-budding rap aspirations. Yet a mere two weeks later, 'Ye was back in the studio recording what would later become his Grammy nominated single "Through The Wire." The song not only charted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 15 consecutive weeks, but its accompanying video—which Kanye financed himself—won Best Video of the Year at the 2004 The Source Hip-Hop Awards
After "Through The Wire" proved to be a commercial and critical success, Kanye told Yahoo! Music that the accident was a prophetic blessing in disguise. "The only thing this accident is saying is, 'I am about to hand you the world, just know at any given time I can take it away from you,'" he mused. "To nearly lose your life, to nearly lose your mouth, your voice, your whole face, as a rapper...and I had to be on TV! My face looks crazy to me now... But I have to just thank God for the situation that I am in...'Through The Wire' is the worst thing that could've possibly happen to me, and now it's obviously the best thing. Look how it exploded!"
While Kanye's auto accident ultimately helped make his hip-hop career, some MCs weren't quite as fortunate. N.W.A affiliate The D.O.C. experienced this first-hand when a car crash in 1989 nearly left him without the use of his vocal chords. According to The D.O.C. himself, he had been partying after the wrap of a music video for a song off his debut album No One Can Do It Better when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car. His car veered off the freeway and crashed, throwing him out through the front windshield face-first into a tree. The accident severed The D.O.C.'s vocal chords and left him in the hospital for two-and-a-half weeks. The Dallas-born MC was able to regain the use of his vocal chords, but his voice was rendered raspy—a far cry from the sharp baritone with which he began his career. Although The D.O.C. remained active in hip-hop following the accident—he contributed lyrics to N.W.A's Niggaz4Life and Dr. Dre's The Chronic—his recorded output diminished greatly, releasing on two albums in the aftermath. However, it was reported in 2009 that he was in the beginning stages of undergoing vocal reconstructive therapy with the help of Snoop Dogg. He is also preparing to release his fourth solo effort, Voices Through Hot Vessels, sometime this year.
Earlier this year, The D.O.C. sat down with Playboy for a rare on-camera interview, in which he detailed how he turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the accident. “The whole West Coast movement changed direction the night I had that accident,” he said. “Once that shit happened, I was just out of there. I didn’t care about anything but getting drunk and getting high—trying to get away from that pain of not being able to do the one thing that I was good at.”
[via The Drop.FM]
Perhaps one of the most publicized and medically traumatic auto accidents in hip-hop was Cassidy's car crash in 2006. Little over a year after the 2005 shooting incident that ultimately led to the Philadelphia rapper's incarceration, Cass was involved in a serious accident that left him in a coma. According to reports, Cassidy was heading to a recording studio in Yonkers, New York when a U-Haul truck swerved into oncoming traffic and slammed into the side of the vehicle in which Cassidy was sitting. The "I'm a Hustla" MC suffered a fractured skull and broke a number of other bones in his face. Although doctors stated that his injuries weren't life threatening, the rapper was listed in critical condition and was placed in a medically induced coma for a week. Cassidy later spoke with MTV about the accident, revealing that he suffered from temporary amnesia after he woke up from the coma.
"I was in a coma for about seven or eight days," he said. "And then they put me into a medicated coma, so that if I woke up I wouldn't be traumatized by what I went through. When I first woke up out of my coma, I had amnesia, so I couldn't really remember everything. I didn't have full amnesia; I could remember certain things. The only people I really knew were my mom, my son, people that's real close that you knew all your life. I knew their names but even certain experiences I couldn't remember at first. I couldn't remember none of my raps, even the songs I performed —'Hotel,' 'I'm a Hustla,' none of that. The doctor told me that I suffered brain damage, but it was temporary, it wasn't permanent. So the same way it takes time for your body to heal, he said it's gonna take your brain time to heal."
Cassidy isn't the only Philadelphia veteran to suffer injuries from a major auto accident. At the top of 2011, The Roots affiliate and Black Thought's Money Making Jam Boys partner Dice Raw found himself in a serious crash in his native city. According Dice himself, a young woman ran a red light after attempting to drive around a parked driver and crashed headfirst into his Jaguar XK. Although his injuries weren't as serious as some of the other artists on this list, the accident totalled his car and left him temporarily incapable of walking. However, Dice told AllHipHop that there was a silver lining to the accident. He explained that his time in recovery prompted him to look into ways to help raise awareness about the struggles permanently handicapped people face everyday.
"It happened so fast–I was turning and this silly bitch decided she couldn't wait two seconds and swerved around someone that was stopped and blew through the red light," he explained. "My car got totaled, my face got all cut up, my ankle and knee are fucked and I still can't walk...since I'm laid up now for almost a week, I've been thinking about all the handicap people who are less fortunate then everybody that walks around and does whatever they want whenever they want. I'm definitely going to be figuring out how to get more involved and give my time to handicap organizations to raise awareness.”
Darrin "Dee" Dean
While not technically a rapper, Ruff Ryders co-founder Darrin "Dee" Dean was involved in a near-fatal accident in 2001. On December 6 at 8:41 PM, Dee was riding along Ryawa Avenue in the South Bronx on a limited edition three-wheel Ruff Ryders motorcycles reportedly on his way to the label's headquarters at Powerhouse Studios. The ride took a turn for the worse, however, when Dee ran into the rear end of a parked tractor trailer, breaking both of his legs. The label executive was rushed to Lincoln Medical and Mental Health center and underwent a nine-hour surgery, where a hospital spokesperson reported that he was listed in "extremely critical condition with severe head and neck trauma." Although it was rumored that the accident left Dee paralyzed from the waist down, a 2009 video interview with All Access proves that Dee made a full recovery.
Immediately following Dee's near-fatal crash, his brother and fellow Ruff Ryders founder Joaquin "Waah" Dean released a statement, saying "The Dean and Ruff Ryder family want to thank everyone for their prayer and support. We really appreciate the thoughtful expression of sympathy as the family comes together at this time." In addition, Ruff Ryder affiliate Jadakiss also spoke on the accident in his 2004 song "Why," rapping that, "Why my nigga Dee ain't pull out his Ferrari?/Why he take that bike?"
[via XXL Issue #34]