It has been a difficult month and a half for the staff at MCMI, members of The PLAGUE, TeamHOMI, Brooklyn Academy, RedArmy, Decepts, Lo Life’s and friends and fam within and outside of the music industry, feeling the blow of PH aka Pumpkinhead’s untimely passing and the weight of responsibility we have all felt, to both keep his musical legacy strong and create a support system for those left behind. But none of that compares to what Robert Diaz‘ actual family has gone through – wife, mother, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, in-laws and especially his two sons, Royce age 8 and Raiden age 11. And for those who don’t know, their mother Shawntay is also pregnant with PH’s first daughter, due in the fall.
When it first happened, I wrote an article, but so much has transpired in the past 6 or 7 weeks, so many events, so much love and support from friends, fans and even strangers, that I wanted to fill you in on what has been going on, before we talk about the PH MEMORIAL TRIBUTE CONCERT, this Wednesday, August 5th.
News of PH’s unexpected, sudden passing that Tuesday morning, June 9th, 2015, was widely reported in the online media and even newspapers like The NY Daily News. FoxNews Latino and Pix11 covered it. CNN, TIME, USmagazine reported it. Gossip blogs such as Hollywoodlife, HollywoodTake, GossipIcon, DailyMail, thecelebritycafe and E! Online all wrote about the tragedy. Even notorious blogger Perez Hilton had something nice to say. Of course all the music blogs, like Billboard, RollingStone, MTV, BET, XXL, HipHopDX, VLADtv and battle rap sites, such as RapGrid, BattleRap, KOTDtv, HHC, GrindTimeNow, URLtv, released statements, videos, tweets and instagram dedications to #ripPH.
June 9th – 10th, the Instaworld and Twitterverse was lit. Sean Price, Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, Jean Grae, Marco Polo, Brother Ali, Masta Ace, Aesop Rock, Mac Miller, Peter Rosenberg, Atmosphere, Evidence, Statik Selectah, Stretch Armstrong, Pharoahe Monch, Alchemist, Poison Pen, Swave Sevah, DNA, RA the Rugged Man, DJ Rhettmatic, Soul Khan … just to name a FEW tweeted laments about their brother PH passing until #ripPH became the trending topic on Twitter and Facebook for the next day.
Radio stations from SHADE 45 (Evil Dee/TonyTouch), to Hip Hop Nation on Sirius XM, to Halftime / Squeeze Radio with DJ Eclipse, Sucio Smash & Big Zoo, the Underground Railroad with Jay Smooth on WBAI, numerous online shows, Power 105.1 & Hot97, all played PH’s music in tribute and memory. Podcasts on AngryFanRadio got reactions from DNA, Math Hoffa, Swave Sevah, Lush One, Amzilla & P Stacks and Poison Pen. GID Radio and other online shows hosted interviews of PH’s wife, children and friends. That Sunday, the EOW MC Challenge of Champions was dedicated to PH. The Legendary Cypher event at Union Square was dedicated to PH, with his wife and kids in attendance. PH’s eldest son Raiden did an off the top verse for his dad. It was heavy.
Then at the Rock Steady Crew 38th Anniversary show at Summer Stage in Central Park, Raiden came out again, during a special PH Tribute performance orchestrated by DJ Eclipse, this time doing a verse from his dad’s song “Here” off of Orange Moon Over Brooklyn. Other artists who performed at the tribute include Immortal Technique, Jean Grae, Bad Seed, Tonedeff, Diabolic, Hydra, PackFM, Poison Pen, DP One and Metaphor from Brooklyn Ac.
All of this chronicled the pain of losing someone who was down to earth, helpful, and supportive, someone who did so much for battle rap and had so much passion for Hip Hop music and culture.
This coming Wednesday, August 5th, Hip Hop artists in New York are coming together to honor and pay tribute to the man, Robert Diaz, and the MC PH, also known as Pumpkinhead, at SANTOS PARTY HOUSE. The flyer lists IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE, PHAROAHE MONCH, JEAN GRAE, SEAN PRICE, ROCKNESS MONSTAH, SMIF-N-WESSUN, SADAT X, KID CAPRI & EVIL DEE on the wheels, but there are numerous other artists added to the event – all of whom are friends of PH and all of whom represent NY Hip Hop. If you go to the Facebook Event Page, you can rsvp, post messages and see the full line up for the show. You can see it is going to be one of those monumental NY moments in Hip Hop history.
Besides being an artist himself, PH was an events promoter, organizing numerous Hip Hop events, from GrindTime battles, to our own MCMI Warzone battle last year, to Hip Hop concerts such as “The Classic“, “The Platform“, “Masters of the Underground” and his art series called “The Blackbook” dedicated to Graff.
The day PH transitioned, a bunch of us got together on the rooftop of Rodney “LR Blitzkreig” Willie’s building in Park Slope, Brookyln. The appearance of an “Orange Moon Over Brooklyn” that night is well documented, here and here, on Facebook and Youtube. Shortly after, an alliance was formed between a group of PH’s friends who are also event producers, promoters, graphic designers and marketing professionals. We formed a “core committe” (i.e. MCMI, Lyricist Lounge, RealTalkNYC, WritterzBlock, PoisonPen, Metaphor, The Plague, LyricsToGo, EOW, TeamHOMI and others) and a larger committee of friends and supporters who began working on a series of memorial events. It was not exclusionary, but comprised of those of us who were in touch with each ther at the time. As others have been reaching out, reconnecting with old friends, they have been added to the group.
This has turned into the PH MEMORIAL TRIBUTE COMMITTEE, which was responsible for the Memorial White Party at LittleField, among other things, leading up to this major tribute concert.
Everyone brings what they do to the table. Some book venues, some contact artists, some paint murals and paintings, some do graphics for flyers, posters and tee shirts. Some promote online or in the streets. This is a team effort – a community of like-minded individuals brought together by Pumpkinhead. We are all working towards one cause. No one is profiting. 100% of the money raised goes to the Fund for PH. We don’t even put our name on anything unless it will help the cause. It is not about us.
Anyone who wants to join us in these endeavors is welcome to contact us and become a member of the committee. If you have something you would like to contribute, reach out to anyone you know who has been mentioned above, or email us at mcmireport[at]gmail.com. Or you can just speak to any of us in person at the PH MEMORIAL TRIBUTE CONCERT, this Wednesday.
I am going to end this on a personal note. When asked in interviews to come up with the best times I have had with Robert, I realize that the times I spent with PH, were some of the best of times, in my life, period. Having been friends for about 25 years, it is hard to pick just one.
Here he is, in happier days, celebrating at my wedding, with our Plague fam all around us. Thank you for the good times, PH, you will be sorely missed and remembered forever.