Derrick "OOH" Jones, aka Yo Slick and member of the influential Baltimore rap group Brown F.I.S.H., died Sunday. He was 38.
Al Shipley's obituary in City Paper, which first reported Jones' death (cause of death has not yet been released), is essential reading to understand Jones' impact on Baltimore. Jones was an excellent rapper and live performer, but his reach extended well beyond hip-hop fans. He was a teacher at Gilmor Elementary and the director of the Baltimore Youth Advocate Program. Shipley calls Jones' "Save a Dope Boy" campaign his "crowning achievement."
On Friday, I spoke to Jones' friend of 15 years and fellow rapper Eze Jackson about the man many knew simply as OOH.
On Jones' work in the community: "He did something that nobody does: He went to college, he got his master's and then he started an organization to reach out to brothers that had come from the backgrounds that we come from, you know what I’m saying? They gotta hustle. They’re out there and they don’t have no man guiding them. I think he really called and challenged us to be men in the community.
That’s the other heavy part about it: He wasn’t just no rapper. He loved Baltimore. He made sure we was working together on all kinds of stuff. If he needed us at a fundraiser or he needed us to show up for something for Save a Dope Boy or Y.A.P., he let us know. He made sure that the kids felt supported, and that they had somebody there as a pillar."
On Jones as a rapper: "The first time I met him, I saw a greater MC, in terms of the cypher and freestyle. At the time, I was used to yes-men that were around me. They liked what I did. I was happy to see somebody that set a bar for someone from Baltimore. Always good. Always kept me sharp. Always let me know if he didn’t like something. He always let you know, when you was wrong or you was doing something wack."
On what stood out most about Jones as a musician: "His presence. He always made his presence felt. He had a way of making you listen to his message. He had a presence that was like, you knew the brother had something to say. He was going to make you laugh but he was also going to drop some jewels on you."
On the last time he saw Jones: "[Last] Friday at the Baltimore Indiefest [at the 8x10 in Federal Hill], that was the last time that I saw him. ... Friday was one of my favorite moments in Baltimore because we had done a good show. It was all good. Everybody killed it and the crowd was so happy. I walked outside and OOH was standing right there, just grinning, golds shining. He was like, 'Eze Jackson!' He gave me a big hug and I got a chance to tell him I love him and he told me he loved me. I’m grateful that I saw him. He looked better than he ever did when I saw him on Friday."