Today officially marks the one-year mark after the tragic murder of Queens rapper Lionel “Chinx” Pickens, and we are still mourning his loss. Chinx brought a unique element to the game, delivering that New York style, and being able to adapt to any type of sound in hip hop. Coming up under Stack Bundles, and being a member of the Riot Squad, Chinx has always had a major influence in the New York rap scene, and was mentored by one of the greatest lyricists to come out of Queens.
Horribly enough, a very similar tragedy happened to his friend, Stack, who was also murdered in Queens nearly nine years ago on June 11, 2007, right in his community. It leaves a very eery feeling on loved ones and fans to know that these two, who grew up together, and made music in the game for years, had both experienced very similar deaths in their own communities. To this day, both of their murders are still unsolved and it still makes us ask the unsettling question: why?
There has been a common theme of high profile rappers being unfortunately gunned down without a clear explanation as to why for almost two decades, according to authorities. With the previous passings of rap icons, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur in the 90’s, not only has the hip-hop community taken a big loss in losing such raw, innovative talent, but it’s even impacted the world.
Their music has been timeless and is still being played across the globe to this day, as they are arguably still considered two of the greatest lyricists of all-time. 20 years into the aftermath, there are still multiple conspiracies as to who killed B.I.G. and ‘Pac, and why it happened, but there still has not been clear-cut evidence to definitively say who carried out these killings, or why they happened.
The common element that all of these rappers share is that they were taken away while they were at the pinnacle of their respected careers. Biggie was in Los Angeles to promote his new album, Life After Death, all while being on top of the rap world with his new hit single, “Hypnotize” at the time. On March 9, 1997, Christopher Wallace was gunned down in his SUV, and was pronounced dead shortly after. Tupac Shakur was in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996, and was fatally shot outside of the MGM Grand hotel after leaving the Bruce Seldon vs. Mike Tyson fight.
Fast forward to just last year, Lionel “Chinx” Pickens was fresh off of performing at Club Red Wolf in Brooklyn, New York, and while returning to his home in Queens, a sudden drive-by shooting took his life. Yet again, the trend of hip hop stars losing their lives to foul violence without any authentic answers remains the same, even if the sound around these tragedies evolves.
On a personal note, Chinx was a friend, who always showed love, and was one of the most humble people I have ever met. We first met backstage in Connecticut at a concert ,and developed a friendship that I will never take for granted. I saw him across clubs and venues all throughout Connecticut, and New York, and during the times we crossed paths, it was always genuine.
Being on stage and seeing the impact he made on people’s lives, and seeing what his music meant to them, showed me what type of artist he was, and the potential of his stardom. Having that co-sign from the great Stack Bundles, and being under French Montana, and the Coke Boys, Chinx had a platform to expose his talent and take it to new heights. Seeing his growth as an artist and the type of records he was producing made me realize that he was a star.
From his mixtapes early on with Big Mike and ITSBIZKIT, Chinx displayed that he could make a significant mark on the hip-hop community, and proved that his legacy wasn’t going anywhere. With features from Jadakiss, to Rick Ross, and even to Future, Chinx was at the peak of his career in the midst of his passing, and was surely going to be recognized worldwide for his story and message.
Following his passing, his debut album, Welcome To JFK was released on August 14, 2015 and featured his breakthrough single, “On Your Body” featuring Meet Sims. The highly anticipated album also includes appearances from French Montana, Nipsey Hussle, Ty Dolla $ign, Jeremih plus more. To add to his legacy, we’ve now found out that Chinx will have some new music released off his upcoming sophomore album, Legends Never Die, releasing later this year. You can now pre-order the album on iTunes.
We have lost not only a great artist, but a great person, and someone who showed love to anyone. His legacy will forever live through his music and hip hop should never forget him.