Grand Master Roc Raida: 1972 – 2009
Photo by Joe Conzo
[The following information has been supplied and approved by Roc Raida’s wife. Thank you in advance for your kind words and sympathy]
Anthony “Grand Master Roc Raida” Williams was born in Harlem New York on May 17th, 1972 to Brenda Williams-Bolling & William Tony
He passed away on Saturday, September 19th, 2009 from a cardiac arrest resulting from injuries he suffered in an accident while training in Krav Maga, a type self defense system that he had been studying weekly for the last two years. He was proud that his 15-year-old daughter, Asia, shared his passion for Krav Maga and was the only girl in their class.
At an early age, Anthony joined the Mt Neboh Baptist Church & was baptized under the leadership of the Late Rev. William D. Gardner. It is at Mount Neboh where he served faithfully during his youth. He was a member of the Children’s Choir, the Junior Choir, the Usher Board, and a former mascot for the Male Chorus of which his grandfather, the Late Deacon Early Williams was a member.
Anthony Williams was both African-American and Puerto Rican. He lived most of his life in Harlem but after marrying his soul mate, Tyeasha on June 26, 1997, they moved to the Bronx. Several years ago, they realized their dream of owning a home and relocated their family to Maryland. He encouraged and shared in his wifes dream of one day opening up her own beauty salon.
He began DJing at the age of 12, spinning at local parties around Harlem. By 1995, Roc Raida represented the United States at the DMC World DJ Championships and won! He was the first DJ from New York City to hold this title and was automatically inducted into the DMC/Technics DJ Hall of Fame. Throughout his life, he lived his passion – being a professional Hip Hop DJ. He was blessed to have touring the world as his day job. Williams was honored to have worked with recording artists including Showbiz & AG, Lord Finesse, Kool G Rap and most recently, he toured exclusively with Busta Rhymes.
Although his family called him Ant (short for Anthony), he became known worldwide as legendary DJ Roc Raida. In 1999, Grand Master status was bestowed upon him by a group of pioneering Hip Hop DJs, during a conference at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.
Before he passed, he asked his 10 yr. old daughter, Nyra, who was the most interested, of his children, in DJing to take over for him as a DJ. She agreed!
With a very aggressive swagger on the turntables, those who knew Roc Raida were floored by his humbleness. His wife, Tyeasha reports, His notoriety amazed him every day! He never took that for granted. Williams was also known to be very quiet, private and easy going. His self-control was commendable unless he was pushed to his limit and then he would roar. In fact, Lord Finesse called his friend the quiet lion for this very reason. Those closest to him have the pleasure of remembering him also as a hilarious comedian, loving to joke and laugh.
Roc Raida through battles, performances, videos, dvds and even a Pepsi commercial, influenced thousands of DJs, both to party rock as well as to battle and he took several aspiring DJs under his wing to mentor personally. As a member of legendary turntablist crews, The X-Men and The X-ecutioners, he along with his brothers-in-vinyl took the world by storm, innovating, influencing and inspiring at every turn. In 2006, to progress and contribute to the Hip Hop DJ battle scene, he founded Roc Raidas Gong DJ Battle, a national DJ battle that occurs annually, combining head to head turntablist dexterity with comedy and drama.
Not only was he a World Champion DJ, he was a dedicated father and husband.
Anthony leaves to cherish his memories; his loving wife: Tyeasha Williams; three beautiful daughters: Asia, Nyra & Tia; one son: Earl Tyric Smiley; mother: Brenda Williams-Bolling; his step-father: Clarence Bolling; mother-in-law: Clarice Powell; father-in-law: Deryl Hunt; sister: Tamneka Bolling; 2 brother-in-laws: Willie Neat & Keith Powell; 3 aunts: Arlene Tramble, Jacquline Knox of FL, & Jacquline (Donald) Tramble; 1 god-sister: Tina Carter; Adoptive Grandmother: Juanita Jackson and a host of cousins & dear friends.
Anthony is now reunited with his grandparents, Deacon Early & Helen Williams & his Aunt Minister Carol Knox.
The family would like to acknowledge these amazing “God-sends”. They have truly been Tye’s backbone throughout this ordeal. To: Henley “Pro” Halem, Sean C, Fat Man Scoop, Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier and Christie Z. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!!!
The family would like to expressly thank Chatman-Harris Funeral Home in Baltimore MD as well as Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem NY for their generosity and kindness.
“As one of the Godfathers of Hip Hop, this is a tremendous loss to the Dj community. Its sometimes rare to meet an individual who was a supertalent, be so mild mannered and so calm. His skill level was admired worldwide. It was pleasure to see him in action. It was a pleasure to know him. I give my condolences to his family.” – Grandmaster Flash
“My heart is in pain over the passing of a good friend. Hes like a brother to me because he holds the same values I hold when it comes to my family, friends, music and life. He will be missed but not forgotten. I will keep his wife and children in my prayers. Rest in Peace Grand Master Roc Raida!” GrandWizzard Theodore
“Roc Raida was an innovator on the turntables at a time when we thought the best of the best had been seen. His artistic wizardry seemed so effortless it reminded me of a young GrandWizzard Theodore. His easy going attitude was a pleasure to see in a time where most artists of his caliber were big headed. Salute young general and RIP to our latest Grand Master!” – GrandMaster Caz
“The Lord is forming his band right now. He called home Michael Jackson. But he was missing a DJ that could match the skill level as Michael. So he called upon Grandmaster Roc Raida.” – DJ Scratch
“Since the day I met Raida, he was the most humble, strong willed, genuine, ultimate competitor. The greatest DJ in my book.” – Lord Finesse
“Grand Master Roc Raida was one of the greatest DJs to ever touch a turntable. To guys like myself and Craze who came up right after the monumental generation of X-Men, ISP and Beat Junkies, Raida was the ultimate inspiration as a battle DJ. For those who knew him personally, Raida was also the kindest, more generous and funniest friends we had. He was like a mentor to me, I can’t even count the amount of times he helped me out over the years. I feel like I just lost a big brother. He will be sorely missed.” – DJ A-Trak