Born Dominic Newtown, the Jacka went by Shaheed Akbar most of his life after converting to Islam. He started his rap career as one-fifth of local group Mob Figaz, which released several albums starting with 1999′s C-Bo’s Mob Figaz. As a solo artist, he issued dozens of albums, mixtapes and collaborative efforts, enjoying his greatest chart success with 2009′s Tear Gas. His most recent album, What Happened to the World, arrives in early December, and earlier in 2014 he teamed up Philadelphia’s Freeway for the joint LP Highway Robbery.
The Jacka’s collaborators were a Who’s Who of Bay Area rap, among them E-40, Mistah F.A.B. and Mac Dre (the last of whom died in an unsolved shooting a little more than a decade ago). Raekwon was among rappers paying tribute on Twitter after word surfaced of the Jacka’s death, writing, “R.I.P the jacka, had a chance to meet the homie cpl times & build with him & record some joints, my condolences to his family & friends.”
In a Pitchfork review of the Jacka’s latest album, David Drake wrote that he “should be recognized as one of the last decade’s strongest writers — both within and outside of hip-hop.”
Watch the video for the Jacka’s highest-charting song, Tear Gas‘s “All Over Me,” below, and scroll down for What Happened to the World‘s “Love.”