Filed under: Features,In The Trenches,Interviews,Killa Queens,Killa Sha Special,Not Your Average,Promos & Exclusives,Rest In Peace
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Late last week I was contacted by DJ Phantom – who it turns out was Sha Lumi’s right-hand man in the music game – and I was fortunate enough to have him share some stories about Sha. For those of you not familiar with Phantom’s resume, he’s been involved in the mixtape game heavily for years, and was responsible for bringing the world the debut mixtapes from artists such as Consequence (Take ‘Em To The Cleansers), Saigon (Warning Shots), Trife Da God and Streetlife to name a few. Here’s here’s the Killa Sha story according to Phantom:
DJ Phantom: Killa Sha was more than my friend – that was like my brother. I met Sha in ’99 through Trag, ‘cos that’s when I started working with Trag. Trag told me to come to Power Play Studios and I said, ‘Yo, I wanna meet Killa Sha’. He’s said, ‘Why you wanna meet Sha for?’ I said, ‘Cos the nigga’s the nastiest outta your whole group!’ I’m imaging Killa Sha to be some 6’2”, tall-ass dude from Queensbridge…I get to the studio, he calls me and goes, ‘Yo, Sha’s here, yo, so let’s get up’. So I go to the control room, open the door and I say, ‘Yo, where’s Sha at?’ He says, ‘Sha’s in the lounge.’ So I’m in the lounge room, chilling out, and I see mad people in there. So I go back into the control room like, ‘Yo, I don’t know who Sha is, man’. So Trag brings me back in the lounge room and says, ‘Yo, Sha! Come over here!’ So I see this 5’5” dude come next to me, and I look at Trag and I say, ‘You aren’t Killa Sha, son!’ He’s like, ‘Son! I’m Killa Sha, son! I’m Killa Sha!’ I’m like, ‘Word? Son, you my nigga!’ He started laughing, then Trag is like, ‘I’ll be in the control room, see you guys later’. From there, me and him became friends.
Around that time he was on the radio with Stretch. I used to go to his grandma’s crib and we used to hang-out, usually he would shout me out on the radio, but I didn’t really care about the radio since I was a mixtape DJ and I was getting things poppin’ on the mixtape side of things. So I said, ‘Yo, come to my studio. I got a studio four blocks away from Queensbridge at my boy’s crib. You should start coming and start recording with me’. I got the first freestyle me and him ever did, I got all this stuff…I got all his work. Even stuff that has never been released. The Black Eminem was a mixtape that me and him came up with. The majority of all his work came from that studio where we worked out of. The Billy Colez Story was recorded at that studio – that’s how I met Lord Sear first, through Sha.
After The Black Eminem mixtape, Paul Rosenberg – Eminem’s manager – called Killa Sha and told him he wanted to have a meeting. After that, The Billy Colez Story did really good too, and that’s when we started working with Large and working on GOD Walk On Water. When we were sequencing GOD Walks On Water Killa Sha told me, ‘Yo son, the order how you got it is good – I just need J-Love to come and tweak it for me. Trust me, J-Love knows how to tweak so it can have a certain sequence’. Now we’re shopping the deal around and we went to Babygrande and sat down with Chuck. We played him a couple of snippets and Chuck liked it and told us, ‘Come back next week with the actual album and we’ll give you a deal at Babygrande’. But me being around Trag, he made me very business-savvy. He taught me the business side – I mentored under Trag. So I came to Babygrande with a financial statement on how much everything was gonna cost – the manufacturing, the co-op, the distribution fee, the return reserve – so I had everything broken down and I think Chuck was kinda hesitant because, ‘Wow, this isn’t some street dude. He really came prepared’. We brought him the album that week and we never heard back from Chuck. So Sha was kinda discouraged, but I was like, ‘Don’t worry about it, we got other things to do. Let’s start working on more mixtapes’.
Then my homeboy from Queensbridge gave me this mixtape – but it was a jewel-case mixtape! I was like, ‘What is this? 6 Blocks, 96 Buildings?’ So I go see Sha, like, ‘Yo! You know you got a song on this album?’ He looks at me and he’s like, ‘Son, I didn’t give the authority for this song to be leaked on this album. I never signed no clearance! Son, find out who released this’. So I find out it was through Traffic and called them up, ‘This is Gustavo, I’m basically bringing to your attention that you have copyright infringement on one of your works that you have put out. Killa Sha needs to be compensated’. So they said, ‘What can we do?’ So I said, ‘Look – you got distribution. How about instead of you cutting us a check for that record, you cut us a check for an advance and some marketing dollars to put out GOD Walk On Water?’ So GOD Walks On Water comes out, and everyone’s showing us mad love.
I met Large around when he was doing 1st Class when we was working that same studio – Power Play. The engineer who was mixing that album introduced me to Large and we exchanged phone numbers. It was bugged-out, because Large didn’t pick up his phone for a whole year. A whole year I’m trying to call him – not picking up – so one day I bump into him and he’s with Sha. Sha tells him, ‘Yo, this is my man, son! You gotta go fuck with him!’ He was like, ‘Oh, I though he was one of these happy-go-lucky niggas’. So me and Large started getting cool, little by little. The whole Main Source album, I was there, Sha was there, then he’d get other people to come in – but it was all of us in the studio, recording. Main Source took almost four or five years to make. I was the A&R and Executive Producer of the album – he just didn’t put no credits on it. Then we started working on The Shepard.
In ’08 I found out about his diabetes, for real for real. He want to dialysis three times a week. He was on the list for a new kidney, but we kept his hopes up – still going to the studio, still joking around. What’s dope is dude’s like Havoc would come and see Sha when he was sick. There’s a lotta people saying they was Sha’s homeboys, but I know who he really messed with. The whole of ’09 he was in the hospital. He was back-and-forth from his house to the hospital. Even at times when we went to the studio to record – I made sure he ate and he had some sort of sugar-additive to drink so his diabetes wouldn’t flare-up – but sometimes at the studio he would get into a diabetic seizure. Certain people didn’t understand what was going on, but I understood so I had to calm him down and make sure he was alright, and after that he’d just chill-out for a little bit. From there I just took him home or call him a cab to take him home. Last year was kinda rough, ‘cos he was really going through it. He really wanted to go back to LA, but due to his complications with his health he really couldn’t fly out ‘cos then he’d have to get a dialysis doctor to meet him for that day.
He was my brother. He always taught me so much, that now that he’s passed and he’s with us spiritually…when I mix this album down for real and master it – everything that Trag and Large and him and everyone who influenced me – all those elements are gonna be part of this album. I’m trying to put it out in April or May. The album with Large Pro is done too. When The Shepard comes out, it’s gonna be more than a classic album. The only people [who produced] on the last album to this was Large, Jewelz Polaar and Thorotracks. Everyone else is new – Diamond D, Asthmatik, Carnage from Flushing, Grimeytracks, Ju Ju from the Beatnuts, The Beatminerz, Steady and maybe Lewis Parker. It’s gonna be twelve, thirteen tracks. The only person who’s featured on the album is Tragedy – the whole album is just him by himself. Hip-hop is him. He could spin his ass off. He could rhyme. He could make beats – he made a lotta beats for the Killa Kids album. He was more than a triple threat. I learned how to DJ, but he got me nice at deejaying. He put me on to a lot of breaks. Me and him used to have this show at Marley Marl’s crib – Future Flavas Online – so for two-and-a-half years I’m going to Marley’s crib every Friday, chilling with Marley. He has a whole album he did with Marley that never came out too.
The Shepard took three years to make. It was a lot of in and out of the studio with him going to hospital and coming out of the hospital. At that time, we were clicking very, very well. We would go to the studio and me and him would just vibe out. Around that time a lot of records were created, like ‘Mind State’ for Death of Tragedy. I had him in an element of different zones. We made music just because we loved it. All this kinda saved me from getting in trouble and doing negative things, so I always do things on the strength. I didn’t imagine that his music went that far – like all across the world. He always told me, ‘Yo son, it’s bigger than us right now! Niggas mess with us!’ But I didn’t know that my mixtapes reached to Japan and to the Netherlands and all these other countries. I would have never imagined that my mixtapes would ever go that far. When he passed away and I typed in his name in Google and all these things came up, I was like, ‘Wow…’ People have been calling from all over the world, calling his grandmother’s phone, calling my phone, ‘Yo, Sha was my friend’. It’s amazing, I didn’t know he reached all these people like that. People who didn’t even meet him just loved his music – he was a rare breed.
Krohme feat. Killa Sha – ‘Greasyyy Talk’ [unreleased]
Killa Sha – ‘Face The Facts’ [no DJ]
Killa Sha – ‘God’s Warning’ [Produced by Lewis Parker]
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