9th Ward Daily Photo via rl reeves jr

Coke and heroin, the uncut shit, I used to fuck with all that . . . That’s how I was rockin’

Has it really been 17 years since James Adarryl Tapp Jr aka Soulja Slim was gunned down in New Orleans? We had Slim’s Hustlin’ Is A Habit on heavy rotation on the hotline at the steakhouse where I worked in that long ago time.

So did everybody else in the US. Slim was set to hit the big time til he got gunned down in Gentilly in the front yard of the house he’d just bought for his mama on Lafaye Street.

He had been shot four times.

I made mom proud, when you mention me she smile / It feels good, buying mom a car and a house / And my pa been locked up, for 10 years / Life was a struggle, mom shed so many tears.Daddy wasn’t around, so mama raised me. I’m a thug, but I’m still mama’s baby.

Lyrics from “Mama Raised Me.”

It dropped June 2nd 1998 just two weeks after Slim’s Give It 2 ‘Em Raw LP debuted. That record would eventually go gold but who knows how big it could’ve been had Soulja not been in the penitentiary when it was climbing the charts.

Legendary New Orleans DJ KLC aka Craig S. Lawson recorded Slim’s debut Soulja Fa Lyfe 26 years ago: on his Parkway Pumpin imprint. Speaking on Slim, KLC had this to say: “You can tell if a rapper is real with it, and with Slim there was no doubt. That’s what made him such a hero on the streets. He had been through it all. There was nothing studio about him.”

I might be out there and jack this nigga this night and be out there at the concert with the gat in my pocket rappin’ on stage. That’s the kind of games I used to play.

Slim wasn’t lying. The Booker T. Washington High dropout was a regular visitor to Orleans Parish Prison (New Orleans city jail) and was serving time for parole violation on the armed robbery beef he had when Give It To ‘Em Raw came out.

By the time that three year bid was up, Slim was back in business with his Streets Made Me disc. That would be his final record as part of Percy Miller’s stable as a mass exodus was underway at No Limits. Snoop, Mystikal, Fiend and Mr Serv-On all left for greener pastures with Mr Miller famously telling the Beats By The Pound crew “If y’all ain’t gonna sign the contracts get the fuck out of my face”

Slim landed on his feet starting his own label and putting out two albums between 2002 and 2003. The second one, Years Later…A Few Months After on Koch Records came out three months to the day before his death.

Who killed Soulja Slim?

It’s never been settled in a court of law but cops, detectives and folks in the New Orleans rap community said it was two local hitters, Garelle ‘Jigga’ Smith and Stephen Kennedy.

Prosecutors never pressed charges.

Two years after Slim was killed, Mr Kennedy was shot dead in apparent retaliation for Slim’s death. Jerome “Man Man” Hampton stood accused of Kennedy’s murder but he was gunned down in New Orleans East before his case ever came to trial.

On New Year’s Eve 2003, police arrested 22-year-old Garelle Smith in connection with Slim’s death, and they thought they had him dead to rights. Smith had a pistol in his possession and the ballistics matched the slugs that had killed Soulja Slim.

No witnesses were willing to testify against Smith and he beat the rap.

Over the next seven years Garelle Smith led something of a charmed life til he was shot down on Hamburg Street just two miles from where Soulja Slim met his end. He was 29.

When Slim left Percy Miller’s No Limits there was plenty bad blood and Slim remarked:

I got some paperwork where I could try to go to war, but I ain’t no nigga to go to court . . . You heard me? I get it in blood, nigga

At Slim’s funeral, his stepdad Phil Frazier led Rebirth Brass Band through the streets of Central City as a crowd of thousands paraded. The band had played 30 funerals that year.

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