Lor Scoota, beloved Baltimore rapper best known for 'Bird Flu,' shot and killed
By By Brandon Soderberg
Jun 26, 2016 | 12:57 AM
Around 7 p.m. on Saturday evening, Tyriece Watson, better known as the West Baltimore rapper Lor Scoota, was shot in his car on Harford Road near Moravia Road. The shooter, according to the police, stepped in front of the car and fired, hitting Scoota at least once. Scoota, who was 23, died later at the hospital. His death was announced around 8:30 p.m.
Lor Scoota was one of the city's most beloved rappers. He is best known for 2014's 'Bird Flu,' a catchy ode to hustling whose hook goes, "I think I got the bird flu/ I’m tired of selling packs I think I need a bird or two/ We selling scramble, coke, and smack/ Keep them junkies coming back." The song brought with it a playful Bird Flu dance that has been a party hit for people of all ages (go search "Bird Flu dance" on YouTube and see).
The local success of 'Bird Flu,' in conjunction with the rise of East Baltimore rapper Young Moose, helped bring about a hip-hop renaissance to Baltimore, affording the city two clear compelling personalities, a template for streets-to-internet success, and national eyes on the city. Tellingly, even Baltimore's most well-known rapper right now, Tate Kobang, recently recorded a freestyle over the beat to 'Bird Flu.' And Scoota himself had been, over the past year or so, traveling to Los Angeles and New York, presumably courted by major labels. Among Scoota's other notable songs: 'King Me' and 'Norma Jean's.'
Most recently, Scoota put out the song 'Snapchat' and his fervid freestyle over rapper Desiigner's 'Panda.' His 'Panda' freestyle has been getting airplay on 92Q alongside Desiigner's original.
City Paper has consistently covered Scoota's career since 2014 but the piece we'll point readers to today is "Bigger Than Kendrick," by City Paper contributor J. Brian Charles about how "Baltimore uprising rap confounds the mainstream media's take on political hip-hop." In the piece, Charles makes connections between Scoota and other local rappers' style of music and the tradition of the blues. "Hip-hop has been the past two generations' iteration of the blues. It's not the music of the Delta, but of postmodern urban decay," Charles writes. "Hip-hop is not the blues of Sharecropping, Jim Crow, and the Great Migration, but of Reaganomics, white flight, and the drug war."
In particular, this paragraph which analyzes Scoota's track about street violence 'Ready Or Not' is particularly devastating given Scoota's shooting:
Scoota was also one of the city's more engaged rappers, frequently seen at community-oriented events and preaching non-violence. During the Baltimore uprising, Scoota recorded a series of PSAs which aired on 92Q expressing understanding for those that were angry but also encouraging peace. He was also part of a panel organized by Nick Mosby and Downtown Locker Room at Frederick Douglass High School that spoke to the students after April 27's rioting. And last month, Scoota posted a video of him at Samuel Coleridge Elementary School reading a book to students about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. And just before Scoota was shot and killed, he was the host of a "Touch the People, Pray For Peace in These Streets" charity basketball game at Morgan State University
Not long after Scoota's death last night, major rap figures Meek Mill and Yo Gotti both tweeted out tributes to Scoota. Locally, Scoota's name became the top trending topic in Baltimore.
About three hours after Scoota was shot, City Paper went to the location of the shooting. Save for some stray police tape, there was very little evidence that anything had taken place. Occasionally, people wandered by or parked their car to observe. A few cars also rolled down Harford Road blasting Scoota's music. Though hearing Scoota tracks like 'Bird Flu' and 'Norma Jean's' coming out of cars in Baltimore is common on any given night in Baltimore.
A vigil seems imminent.
Last night, around 11 p.m. live on 92Q, DJ Jay Claxton broadcasting from the S&S Lounge played 'Bird Flu.'
"We doing it for Scoota right now, R.I.P. to Scoota, Baltimore's own Scoota," Claxton told listeners. "We gotta stop this craziness right now yo, I'm serious, I'm serious. Too many of us leaving too soon. Condolences to the family."