I met Capital Steez, just once, and just for a moment. He and the rest of his crew, Pro Era, came to the FADER office in June of 2012 for a video interview and group freestyle. I led them along with their publicist into the office and then, overwhelmed with the size of their dozen-plus entourage, returned to my desk. Six months later, I heard Steez died. It wasn’t until editing Eli Rosenberg’s story about the 19-year-old rapper’s death for this issue of the magazine did I find out he leapt from a building on the same block as the FADER office. I pass by it most days when I go to get lunch. Perhaps that closeness is one reason why his death feels especially harsh. But it also stings deeply because of the terrible circumstances. This was a kid who did not need to die. Every suicide is a tragedy, especially those by troubled young people. How do we get them the help they need?
My business involves the hard work of so many young artists, almost none of whom will achieve any commercial success. I’m not saying that had FADER blogged more of Steez’ music he wouldn’t have committed suicide, but it reminds me that in all of the music and culture floating around in the atmosphere, there are so many stories that go unheard. Steez’ was particularly rich and it is incredibly unfortunate that he had to die for it to be properly told. I’m writing this 24 hours after Lou Reed died. My friend tweeted that while he was certainly sad Reed had passed, there are artists to celebrate now. That’s FADER’s mission. I’m happy that in addition to Steez’ story, this issue, the Now Issue, is dedicated to all of the artists that we think are most on the cutting-edge of culture at this moment, that it tells the narratives of so many artists who put just as much work into their art as he did.
In my editor’s letter in the Now issue a year ago, I wrote obliquely about cancer. What I did not say was that my mother was then really sick with the disease. Her chances for survival were good, and she did indeed make it through. I remember thinking a year ago, though, that if she did not, we had a good run. I’m basically an adult and pretty much self-sufficient, and my parental needs are not very heavy. We basically just chill now and talk about movies and poke fun at my dad for falling asleep everywhere. She sends me funny emails all the time and still sometimes calls me Milo, the name of her dog who died almost two years ago. She laments her lack of grandchildren, but generally the vibe is good. My mom’s not a rapper, so I don’t really see justification for a big story on her in this or any other publication any time soon, but I guess what I am saying is I am doing my best to pay attention while she is here. If there is any lesson to be learned from Steez’ death, I hope it is that.