UTFO hip hop artist and break dancer The Kangol Kid has died at the age of just 55 after battling stage four colon cancer.
Kangol Kid, the rapper who was part of influential hip-hop group UTFO, died at a Long Island hospital on Saturday morning following a battle with colon cancer, his publicist Lion Lindwedel has confirmed to the New York Times. He was 55.
Born in Brooklyn on August 10, 1966 as Shaun Shiller Fequiere, Kid rose to fame in the ’80s as part of the group otherwise known as Untouchable Force Organization, the other members of which were Doctor Ice, Educated Rapper and Mix Master Ice. Between 1985 and 1991, they released albums including UTFO, Skeezer Pleezer, Lethal, Doin’ It! and Bag It & Bone It, finding hits in such singles as “Roxanne, Roxanne” and “Ya Cold Wanna Be with Me.”
“Roxanne, Roxanne,” released on Select Records, was the 1984 equivalent of a viral hit. It sold a few hundred thousand copies and went to No. 10 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and No. 77 on the Hot 100, but its influence was far vaster than statistics could capture.
The song was written from the perspective of three men getting shut down by the same woman, the elusive (and imaginary) Roxanne. Kangol Kid opened the song memorably:
She wouldn’t give a guy like me no rap
She was walking down the street so I said “Hello
I’m Kangol from UTFO.” And she said “So?”
And I said “So? Baby don’t you know?
I can sing, rap and dance in just one show
’Cause I’m Kangol, Mr. Sophisticator
As far as I’m concerned, ain’t nobody greater.”
“Roxanne, Roxanne” was produced by the group Full Force and based on a sample of “The Big Beat” by the rocker Billy Squier, which the producer Howie Tee had brought to the group. It spawned more than two dozen answer tracks and retorts, many by female rappers, most notably “The Real Roxanne” by the Real Roxanne (also produced by Full Force) and Roxanne Shante’s “Roxanne’s Revenge.” At the height of the Roxanne song wars, UTFO and the Real Roxanne would share concert bills. He is shown below in his final performance with Roxanne Shante from earlier this year.
Diamond D, of the Diggin’ In The Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.), reflected on Kangol’s contributions in an Instagram post. “Sleep in Peace Legend,” he wrote. “Those of us who remember when ‘Roxanne Roxanne’ 1st dropped can tell you how HUGE that one song was and how fast it blew up In the streets. Part of that reason was its authenticity because it sounded like a park jam with MCs spittin over big beat. Salute Kangol rest in power.”
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Legendary producer Jermaine Dupri also had some kind words about Kangol Kid. The So So Def founder explained, “Damn! Man another one of my brothers,one of the first guys that talked to me and kicked it when I went on the Fresh Fest,on the 7th I sent him a message with a lotta love and good energy,I pray I made you laugh and I pray i made you smile.”
Check out what others had to say on his passing below.
Kangol Kid was Wyclef Jean before Wyclef Jean was Wyclef Jean. Go back and listen to “UTFO”, “Skeezer Pleezer” & “Lethal” then Whistle’s first 3 albums through Kangol Kid doing behind the scenes work as a mentor, producer/arranger for decades you’d understand his importance
— Dart_Adams (@Dart_Adams) December 18, 2021
RIP to The Kangol Kid from the iconic group UTFO 🌹
Kangol Kid was an exceptional talent especially w/ the group’s breakout single, Roxanne Roxanne. He did everything from production management to songwriting.
Your legacy will live on forever at the Universal Hip Hop Museum 💯 pic.twitter.com/MPlPVITnKl
— The Universal Hip Hop Museum (@uhhmuseum) December 18, 2021
— Dizm (@DizmBeats) December 19, 2021