A Bay Area Prodigy: Remembering The Jacka

The Jacka’s song “See It Thru” flowed through my speakers on the way to work Tuesday morning.

A motivational record to say the least, it’s inspired by Edgar Albert Guest’s legendary poem “See It Through,” which is recited in the track’s opening seconds. The song appears on What Happened to the World, an album Jacka released in December.

I didn’t know when I got to work and on the Internet, I would discover he had been murdered. I couldn’t believe the headline when I read it on DatPiff: “Bay Area Rapper The Jacka Fatally Shot In Oakland.”

According to multiple reports, around 8:15 p.m. Monday, February 2nd, officers responded to a report of shots fired near 94th Ave. and MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, California.

Upon reaching the scene, law enforcement found Jacka with a gunshot wound to the head. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced deceased. He was 37.

So far, no one has been identified or arrested in Jacka’s murder, who was born Dominic Newton but changed his name to Shaheed Akbar after converting to Islam.

A $20,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.

I consider Jacka to be one of the best lyricists ever. And he held a slot amid my top three favorite artists.

Jacka’s music provided unfiltered illustrations of street endeavors, along with Islamic teachings and countless references of strains of marijuana I never knew existed. But more than that, it introduced me to the lifestyle of someone numb from pain who sought to change his ways and inspire others in the process.

Although I never had a chance to meet or interview him, I felt like I knew him. And I attribute that to Jacka providing so much of his life in his music.

I learned about him as a teen. A huge fan of Cormega at that time, I made an effort to purchase any project he dropped. One of those efforts was Legal Hustle Vol. 1, a compilation that featured appearances from the likes of Jayo Felony, Ghostface Killah, Kurupt, Vybz Kartel, Large Professor and AZ.

I was familiar with all of the aforementioned artists, but I had never heard of Jacka.

His hazy track “Barney (More Crime)” was towards the end of the compilation. On the song, he addressed the struggle of balancing a life of cocaine distribution with a rap career.

As the years progressed, I got more familiar with his catalog. It started with his mixtape, The Dopest. It was pretty much a collection of songs from various projects he had released up to that point.

His music intrigued me. He had a voice that was smooth and melodic, but his content was candid and aggressive. And the production he rhymed over was rather unique.

After The Dopest, I became a true supporter of Jacka’s music, and pretty much anyone associated with him. Following his catalog introduced me to numerous artists from the Bay Area that I took a liking to: Mob Figaz, Messy Marv, Joe Blow, Young Lox, Dubb 20, J. Stalin, Berner, Andre Nickatina, and the list goes on. And even others outside the area like Akron, Ohio’s Ampichino and Young Bossi.

Jacka’s work ethic was inspiring to me. He didn’t release too many solo albums, but he had a bevy of mixtapes, “street albums” and joint projects with other artists.

One of his last collaborative efforts was Highway Robbery with Philadelphia’s Freeway. The project dropped last September. Already a successful independent artist, it helped Jacka flirt with mainstream appeal, and provided him with the opportunity to share his presence on popular outlets like Sway in the Morning and VladTV.

Jacka was arguably the most respected figure within the Bay Area’s hip-hop movement. And in my opinion, he was the area’s biggest icon since Mac Dre.

Though I’ll never have an opportunity to meet him in the physical, I’ll continue to embrace his presence musically.

Rest peacefully, Jacka. God bless.

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