The Life and Rhymes of Capital STEEZ
Courtney Jamal Dewar, Jr. (July 7, 1993 – December 24, 2012) was an American hip hop artist from Brooklyn, New York better known by his stage name Capital Steez (stylized as Capital STEEZ). He was the founder of the Brooklyn-based rap collective Pro Era, along with longtime friend and record producer Powers Pleasant, as well as the founder of the Beast Coast movement, which consists of the groups Pro Era, Flatbush Zombies, and The Underachievers.
There is a very well cited and in depth article articulating the finer points of Steez’s early life, rap career, and sadly details concerning his death written by ELI ROSENBERG for The Fader and I highly suggest reading it, for those with little knowledge of Capital Steez’s personal life, as well as those who are quite familiar. It is a beautifully written piece and you may read it here as I will be skipping over the redundant nature of journalism and move directly to the reason for this article. I could not do a better job, thank you Mr. Rosenberg.
Having spent my entire life familiarizing myself with what can be called arcane or mystery school teachings relating to the origins of civilization, such as Egyptian mysticism, Chinese Mental Alchemy, Haitian Voodou, and Eastern Sufi mysticism, etc., I believe I may at a slight advantage understanding the significance and the intent of CJ’s decisions conerning his final act. Furthermore, I would suggest it was the culmination of a meticulously planned out event in which Steez had grown to understand was his divine purpose. If I may, I feel he was absolutely correct and one reason I attest this is that personally, despite having been raised in Japan and been a practitioner of Zen Buddhism for over 30 years, it was Steez who finally graced me with the gift of Satori (a Japanese zen buddhist word meaning awakening or “understanding; comprehension, often translated as enlightenment) as he did for not only his intimate friends but the world over through deliberate actions as well as in the lyrical content issued by him professionally, thus fulfilling what was his purpose, as he believed it. One can only hope to approach the final moments of one’s existence in this Earthly realm having even learned of their true purpose, let alone made concerted efforts towards assuring long after they were gone that fruit would forever grow from the seed of their own effort.
I would direct the reader to the rapid, higher minded advancement of his crew – Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies, and The Underachievers almost immediately after his death, what I believe and will attempt to show, was an long before conceived event he informed his friends would be happening around the Mayan long count calendar’s “turn from the end of one era to another”, or Dec. 21. 2012, more specifically December 23rd, 2012, in the form of a sacrificial offering for his team, and I say it in that manner having found in my research that hexagram 47 of the I-ching can be translated as Sacrifice, specifically stating “success has been attained but the leader must sacrifice himself for the good of the clan”. Don’t worry, the rabbit hasn’t even dug a hole yet…
Shad been as purposeful in his death as he had been in his life. The building cops say Steez jumped from, 40 West 23rd Street, was at the time a hip-hop hub, serving as the headquarters for apparel company Ecko’s magazine, Complex, and Cinematic, which had secured office space there through a deal with Ecko (both have since relocated). A guard at the building told me Steez was let in—he counted as an employee—and at some point walked up to the roof he used to freestyle on with his friends on better days. Witnesses reported seeing the body lying in the middle of the street shortly after midnight. Though it may be a coincidence, it’s worth noting that the numbers in the date—12/23/12—add up to 47. – ELI ROSENBERG
I first heard Capital Steez even mentioned in or around January 2017. As a lifelong hip hop head who came of age during the Golden Era (early to mid 90’s) I admit this was largely due to my unfair, uninformed, and close minded approach to “new” music not having enough heart, authenticity, or any real thought behind it, and in retrospect I am thankful and not surprised that Capital STEEZ was responsible for changing this mindset. I was finishing writing a song for a screenplay a friend of mine had written, and being afflicted with the gift of 12 internal trains of thought and penchant for doing more at one time than any man ever could possibly do, I was painting, listening to instrumentals on the computer, adding to a short story, intermittently jotting lyrics down, and most importantly letting the TV run rampant with YouTube’s play next algorithm’s (wildly different depending on the platform you use to access it BTW) and it landed on a video called “Top Ten Last Tweets”, again I have absolutely no idea why, other than I had recently joined the citizen tracker perhaps. The only one that actually caught my attention was..
Capital Steez tweeted “The End” at 11:59 before jumping to his own death off a six story building.
..needless to say this seemed odd and perhaps planned out to me and curiously I typed his name in and “Survival Tactics” was the first song I ever heard by Steez. Having been introduced to him the way in which I was, immediately I was struck by the title card reading Creative Control v. Cinematic Music Group, whose office building I had just learned he jumped from with the sample saying “It’s either them or you, it’s sort of like survival, you know, survival of the fittest…you do what you do to stay alive” cutting away to show the roof of a skyscraper as seen through the rooftop windows of a smaller building followed Joey Bada$$ mid jump off a small shack. I was instantly struck by the “coincidences” I witnessed. However, having read Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, I always was of the opinion there are no such things so at once I stopped everything to analyze the video/song.
Although a work of fiction, this book attracts many readers because it deals with spiritualization, growth and even our reason for being here. Heavy stuff? Maybe, though the learning is interspersed within the story. In brief, this is the tale of a man who goes in search of ancient manuscripts in the rain forests of Peru, having been told about them by a friend. The book then follows his journey and as he finds each manuscript, he shares the insights and messages with the reader.
The Celestine Prophecy contains secrets that are changing our world and the way we think. Drawing inspiration from ancient wisdom, the book urges the reader to make connections among the events happening in one’s own life right now, which the book describes as not a mere coincidence but a message or indication from a different energy level. – about Celestine Prophecy
Even upon my initial view the video was littered with tongue-in-cheek references to someone jumping off a roof. Even visually there were allusions to death or suicide in the form of Steez’s ski mask, a panda, but it was reminiscent of a skull and throughout the video Joey and Steez are in the basement of a building that has one lone garbage bag tie hanging from the ceiling forming a crude noose, which coincidentally only seems to appear in front of or behind Steez.
- Steez’s first line “Six million ways to die my n***a choose one” – a reference to 6 Million Ways to Die by Do or Die, as well as Steez’s choosing his own demise and at the same time we are shown a 6 story rise from the ground.
- “doomsday comin start investing in a few guns” – reference to MF DOOM’s Operation Doomsday and a final warning of sorts.
- “better play your cards right, no booster packs” reference to card games such as Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, or Yu-Gi-Oh and possibly video games that have a booster pack, or rocket attached to them allowing them to fly, or in this case, not. “play your cards right” is an expression that originates from gambling that essentially means to plan your moves before you make them.
- “Everybody claim they used to rap But these ain’t even punchlines no more, I’m abusing tracks” a double entendre regarding those who either claim “I used to rap” or those remembering lost M.C.’s “They had skills, R.I.P.” or what have you and the more cleverly hidden but clearly intended “I know my homies will miss me and talk about how I used to kill it but I am now taking advantage of my skill by using that platform to leave clues about why I chose to end this life and hopefully alleviating the pain, instead of clever one liners.”
- “I’m in Marty McFly mode So tell em that the future’s back” – in Back to the Future 2 Marty McFly jumps off a high rise building to escape Biff Tannen.
- “riding on hover boards, wiping out motherboards Stopped spittin fire cause my motherfuckin lung is scoarched” – possible allusion to him flying on the astral plane and devastating his mother at the same time he stopped spittin’ or 11:59 on 12/23/12.
- “King Arthur when he swung his sword A king author I ain’t even used a pen in like a month or four” – King Arthur was chosen by god to reign, according to his beliefs, as was his purpose, similarly to Steez. The 2nd line states he doesn’t even have to try he is gifted
- “I had a hard time writing lyrics Now I’m way over heads, science fiction
You can try and get it, my man the flyest with it” – ref. to previous bar about not needing a pen, as well as a double entendre meaning he is “over heads” or on the roof, or even about to fly, as stated in the last line of this bar as while he spits it, he points a finger to his own chest.
- “P E’s about to take off” – Pro Era is about to get lit, or doubly, I am about to jump.
- “protons and electrons homie that’s an 8 bomb”– clever ref. to 8 ball and the fact cocaine kills people as merciless as bombs, as well as the building blocks of matter, and the form he was about to take on this earthly plane after his take off.
- “Fuck what I once said, I want the blood shed ‘Cause now-a-days for respect you gotta pump lead” – stating he no longer believes in combating hate with love but action, as well as the Industry’s nack for signing revolutionary artists just to have them conform to more of the mindless drivel touted by mainstream anything to trap us all into the slave existence of consumerism.
- “I guess Columbine was listenin’ to Chaka Khan And Pokémon wasn’t gettin’ recognized at Comic-Con” – ref. to Marilyn Manson being blamed for causing the Columbine massacre with his musical criticism of mainstream, a fact grossly misrepresented by the media at the time to mislead or “con” the American people, cleverly alluded to with “Khan”. The last line gave me chills as in 2012 Pokemon was not at the forefront of anything pop culture wise, but ONLY at the time I first heard the track having recently created a viral marketing strategy by integrating augmented reality into an app/game called “Pokemon Go”. It is as if CJ truly experienced the future as he purported to on several radio interviews prior to his death.
- “It’s like we’ve been content with losin’ And half our students fallen victim to the institution Jobs are scarce since the Scientific Revolution And little kids are shootin’ Uzi’s ’cause its given to ’em Little weapon, code name: Smith and Wesson
And you’ll be quick to catch a bullet like an interception” – Smith and Wesson is a manufacturer of firearms and are famous for their handguns which are literally little weapons. It could be a reference to Lupe Fiasco’s song “Little Weapon,” which is about children with easy access to guns.
- “If your man’s tryna disrespect it Send a message and it’s over in a millisecond—nigga” – his final lyric on what came to be presented by Shine as the record company’s first professional Video for Joey Bada$$ ft . Capital Steez. Eli Rosenberg verified that conceptually and visually, as I suspected, the video was conceived by Steez. The line is, on more than one version, abruptly ended in the middle of the word second. Aware of the record labels intent with him and his pals and having already committed to his plan, he used this song not only to directly smack the fans into realizing, posthumously, that there was more to his words then meets the eye, but just as importantly to Joey himself.
These are merely a few of the direct references to his demise Courtney left in his body of work. At his last show he sang a track entitled “Today or Eye Can’t Explain” . While I do not agree with nor advocate suicide, I can personally attest to the wisdom left within the body of work Courtney Dewar left us with and I hope for years to come that they act as the breadcrumbs guiding us back home, to our origins in the ethereal comso’s and I will painstakingly attempt to further annotate and analyze any and all of the clues he left, which will be retroactively linked to this article. The 4th annual Steez Day will be held at Summer Stage, Central Park in New York, NY Sunday July 8th at 6 p.m. It is already sold out but I think all of us should take a moment at that time to reflect on our purpose, on those we love, and on those whose lives we can or do have an affect on, and perhaps play a little Amerikkkan Corruption. and remember the one who gave up so much for all of us. Rhyme In Power Steez, and thank you for shouldering what I could not. May you find the peace you so wished for you, your loved ones, and so many others. From the bottom of my soul I am truly thankful for you and all you are.
If you or you suspect someone you know is thinking about suicide there are many many resources with which one may reach out to, including myself, that can assist with the mental aspects of dealing with such thoughts including but not limited to the following
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours everyday.
any local church or hospital