September 27th, 2009
By: Brittany Somerset, Senior Contributing Writer
Hip Hop Enquirer
Grand Master Roc Raida: May 17, 1972 – Sept. 19, 2009
Anthony “Grand Master Roc Raida” Williams was born in Harlem New York on May 17th, 1972 to Brenda Williams-Bolling & William “Tony” He was educated through the NYC Public School System.
Anthony Williams was both African-American and Puerto Rican. He lived most of his life in Harlem. He began DJing at the age of 12, spinning at local parties around Harlem. By 1995, Roc Raida represented the United States at the DMC World DJ Championships and won! He was the first DJ from New York City to hold this title and was automatically inducted into the DMC/Technics DJ Hall of Fame. Throughout his life, he lived his passion – being a professional Hip Hop DJ. He was blessed to have touring the world as his day job. Williams was honored to have worked with recording artists including Showbiz & AG, Lord Finesse, Kool G Rap and most recently, he toured exclusively with Busta Rhymes.
Anthony married his soul mate, Tyeasha on June 26, 1997, they moved to the Bronx. Several years ago, they realized their dream of owning a home and relocated their family to Maryland. Although his family called him “Ant” (short for Anthony), he became known worldwide as legendary DJ Roc Raida. In 1999, Grand Master status was bestowed upon him by a group of pioneering Hip Hop DJs, during a conference at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum. He has garnered global accolades as the most talented turntablist in the world.
Before he passed, he asked his 10 yr. old daughter, Nyra, who out of the four of his children, expressed the most interest in DJing, to take over for him as a DJ and she agreed!
With a very aggressive swagger on the turntables, those who knew Roc Raida were floored by his humbleness. His wife, Tyeasha reports, “His notoriety amazed him every day!” He never took that for granted. Williams was also known to be very quiet, private and easy going. His self-control was commendable unless he was pushed to his limit and then he would roar. In fact, Lord Finesse called his friend “the quiet lion” for this very reason. Those closest to him have the pleasure of remembering him also as a hilarious comedian, with a few different characters and alter-egos. He loved to joke and laugh.
Roc Raida through battles, performances, videos, dvds and even a Pepsi commercial, influenced thousands of DJs, both to party rock as well as to battle. He took several aspiring DJs under his wing to mentor personally. As a member of legendary turntablist crews, The X-Men and The X-ecutioners, he along with his brothers-in-vinyl took the world by storm, innovating, influencing and inspiring at every turn. In 2006, to progress and contribute to the Hip Hop DJ battle scene, he founded Roc Raida’s Gong DJ Battle, based on the 1970’s TV program The Gong Show, in which losing contestants are removed via the sound of a gong. The national Gong DJ Battle occurred annually, combining head-to-head turntablist dexterity with comedy and drama.
Not only was Roc Raida a World Champion DJ, he was a dedicated father and husband. Anthony is survived by his loving wife: Tyeasha Williams; three beautiful daughters: Asia, Nyra & Tia; one son: Earl Tyric Smiley; mother: Brenda Williams-Bolling; his step-father: Clarence Bolling; mother-in-law: Clarice Powell; father-in-law: Deryl Hunt; sister: Tamneka Bolling; 2 brother-in-laws: Willie Neat & Keith Powell; 3 aunts: Arlene Tramble, Jacquline Knox of FL, & Jacquline (Donald) Tramble; 1 god-sister: Tina Carter; Adoptive Grandmother: Juanita Jackson and a host of cousins & dear friends. Anthony is now reunited with his grandparents, Deacon Early & Helen Williams & his Aunt Minister Carol Knox.
The family would like to acknowledge these amazing “God-sends”. They have truly been Tye’s backbone throughout this ordeal. To: Henley “Pro” Halem, Sean C, Fat Man Scoop, Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier and Roc’s publicist Christie Z. The family would like to expressly thank Chatman-Harris Funeral Home in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem, New York for their generosity and kindness.
Roc Raida was laid to rest on Thursday, September 24th, at the the church he was raised in, Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem, New York. The pastor who conducted the funeral service described the late Roc Raida as “God’s DJ” and called for “All the DJs in attendance to stand up.” The funeral home was overflowing with DJs, family, well-wishers and friends. People flew in from all over the world to pay their respects. including The X-Men/X-ecutioners crew (Rob Swift, Total Eclipse, Sinista, Diamond J, Steve D, Precision, Boogie Blind), I Dee, Eclipse, Grandwizard Theordore, Grandmaster Caz, DJ Premier, Fatman Scoop, Rahzel, JS-1, DJ Riz, DJ Enuff, DJ Camillo, Fatfingaz, DV One, Crazy Legs, DJ Cash Money, Busta Rhymes, Spliffstar, Dready, Sean C, Rhettmatic, Babu, Mickey Factz, Large Professor, Fat Joe, Henley Halem, Christie-Z and Fabel Pabon, *Marilyn*, Sally (from DMC), Spictakular, Alex Aquino, Kid Capri, J-Smoke, Neil Armstrong, Kuttin Kandi, Daddy Dog, Roli Rho, Vlad, Tony Touch, Bobbito, Chela, DJ Scratch, Sadat X, Lord Sear, Marcus, Shiftee, DP One, Cutfucious, Esquire, Dave-1 (of Chromeo), Grandmaster Supreme, Sugarcuts, just to name a few…
A benefit for Roc Raida’s family will take place at BB King’s, in Times Square, New York City, on October 22nd. The X-ecutioners and Busta Rhymes are scheduled to perform, with additional artists to be added.
“The official statement released by Roc’s wife:”
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