Anthony Ian Berkeley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Poetic
Too Poetic.jpg
Background information
Birth name Anthony Ian Berkeley
Also known as Grym Reaper
Born November 15, 1964
Trinidad and Tobago
Origin Long Island, New York
Died July 15, 2001(2001-07-15) (aged 36)
Beverly Hills, California
Genres Hip hop, R&B
Occupation(s) Emcee, record producer, CEO
Instruments rapping
Years active 1989–2001
Labels Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. (1989)
Gee Street/Island/PolyGram Records (1994–1996)
Gee Street/V2/BMG Records (1997–1999)
Empire Musicwerks/BMG Records (2000)
Associated acts Brothers Grym
Gravediggaz

Anthony Ian Berkeley (November 15, 1964 – July 15, 2001) better known as Poetic, was an American rapper and producer. He was also a founding member of the hip-hop group Gravediggaz, for which he used the alias Grym Reaper.

Early life[edit]

The eldest son of a minister, Poetic was born in Trinidad and raised in the town of Wyandanch on Long Island, New York. After forming his first hip-hop group, Brothers Grym with younger siblings Brainstorm and E Sharp in 1989. Sharp handled some of the production duties, while Poetic and Brainstorm provided vocals. They created a buzz for themselves on the underground with their first official demo, which included notable cuts such as “Circle-Circle-Dot-Dot” and “GRYMnastics.” Just when the group was close to landing a record deal, Brainstorm surprisingly decided to quit rap altogether and forced Poetic to pursue a solo career and released a solo 12-inch single, Poetical Terror/God Made Me Funky, in 1989 on Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. Records. However, his deal with Tommy Boy fell through before the release of his first album, and Poetic fell on hard times, including a period of homelessness.

Gravediggaz[edit]

Poetic then joined Wu-Tang Clan's The RZA, former De La Soul/Stetsasonic producer Prince Paul, and Frukwan from Stetsasonic in the hip-hop supergroup Gravediggaz. Concerning the origins of the supergroup, he said:

Each member adopted a Gravedigga alias, and Poetic became known as the Grym Reaper (with Grym, an acronym for Ghetto-Repaired Young Mind, also referring back to his first group). It was stated this stylistic change was adapted from his brief period of homelessness as his former DJ Koas said in an interview "He went homeless and that really took a toll on him. He hit rock bottom and that opens your eyes to really go deep, and that’s when he got dark. I guess it makes you strong to want it that bad. Tommy Boy basically jerked a lot of people."[2] this proved to be impressive change, as his offbeat rhyming style quickly gained attention as the group's first album, 1994's 6 Feet Deep (also known by its original title Niggamortis outside the US), garnered positive reviews and strong sales alike.

After the group's second album, The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel, was released in 1997, The RZA and Prince Paul decided to leave Gravediggaz, leaving Frukwan and Poetic as the only remaining members. During this time, Anthony's rhyming style had matured more. He later showcased this new style in the 1998 single “Savior,” which was produced by British-born producer Baby J, The song was more different than most of his Gravediggaz related material as he rhymed about how much he detested mainstream hip-hop music in general.

In April 1999, Anthony collapsed in his home studio with stomach pains and was subsequently diagnosed with colon cancer.

During this period, he collaborated with The Prodigy's Maxim Reality and Last Emperor under the name of Tony Titanium. Contrary to popular belief, this moniker was created by Poetic himself. It was Poetic who made the reference to the titanium metal being "as hard as Poetic’s will to live," and as a reference to the titanium valve in his chest through which he received chemotherapy). One of his completed solo compositions makes reference to his feeling light as aluminum, strong as steel.[citation needed]

He created work under his original name as well as continuing work on the third Gravediggaz album. The subsequent release, Nightmare in A-Minor, was the darkest work the group had done. It makes many references to Poetic's cancer, perhaps most notably on the track "Burn, Baby, Burn" and on the Last Emperor's track "One Life," which extensively detailed his brutal battle with the illness.

Recently,[when?] an interview was done with Poetic's former DJ Freddie “Kaos” Cox, in which the DJ discusses the early career of the rapper, and an unreleased album of Poetic's music prior to joining the gravediggaz entitled Drop Signal (which was supposed to be his debut album on Tommy Boy, before the deal with the group fell through) has surfaced on the Internet, which includes 14 tracks.[2]

Death[edit]

Poetic died of colon cancer on July 15, 2001, 1:45pm EST at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, five weeks before Nightmare in A-Minor’s scheduled release. He had survived almost two and a half years beyond the doctors' initial 3-month prognosis. Tributes came quickly from across the hip-hop world, both from fellow musicians such as Chuck D of Public Enemy, who wrote an article in tribute to him on his Welcome To The Terrordome commentary section on the group's Web site,[3] and from critics, who widely wrote of their regret at the loss of his talent.

An intimate memorial service for him was held at the Riverside Church in Harlem on August 4, 2001, attended by his family and close friends including bandmates Frukwan and Prince Paul.

Nightmare in A-Minor was initially released by Echo Distribution on August 23, 2001. It was re-released without the track "Better Wake Up" on Empire Musicwerks/BMG in 2002 to critical plaudits. According to Frukwan, a new album may be released using left over material from Poetic. A previous edit noted that Poetic asked that his music not be released postmortem. Poetic asked that his music not be released without clear written consent from the beneficiary (omitting name)It is disrespectful to his memory to post fabrication relating to his legacy. The release and fraudulent activity that occurred with the release of Nightmare In A Minor complicated follow up material that include his solo work under various monikers. His music will be released in accordance to his wishes.

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • 1989 "Poetical Terror / God Made Me Funky"

Albums[edit]

  • 1989 "Droppin' Signal" (unreleased)

With Gravediggaz[edit]

Appearances[edit]

Vocals only unless otherwise noted.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.bombhiphop.com/poetic.htm
  2. ^ a b [1] Wyandanch Week, Pt. 5: The Too Poetic Story + lost album
  3. ^ PUBLIC ENEMY | Chuck D's Terrordome

External links[edit]