John “Ecstasy” Fletcher from the groundbreaking hip-hop group Whodini died at the age of 56

Whodini's Jalil Hutchins (left) and John
Whodini’s Jalil Hutchins (left) and John “Ecstasy” Fletcher (right) behind the scenes in 1984. (Photo: Paul Natkin / Getty Images)

A who’s-who from the hip-hop community took to social media on Wednesday to mourn the death of John “Ecstasy” Fletcher, best known as the charismatic, Zorro-hated co-vocalist in the groundbreaking Brooklyn rap trio Whodini. Questlove of the Roots was the first to break the sad news via its Twitter and Instagram accounts, writing: “One love to Ecstasy of the legendary #Whodini. This man was legendary and a crucial member of one of the most legendary groups in hip hop. This is sad man. “The group’s Grandmaster Dee later confirmed the news Variety, but no cause of death was given at the time of the press. Fletcher was 56 years old.

Fletcher formed Whodini with vocalist / lyricist Jalil Hutchins and turntable Drew Carter, aka Grandmaster Dee, in 1982, and they quickly became breakout stars in the 80s New York rap scene with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, Africa Bambaataa, Run -DMC, The Fat Boys and LL Cool J. Managed by Russell Simmons, they released R & B / electro-crossover club hits that laid the groundwork for the New Jack Swing movement, including “Friends” (which went to no. 4 on Billboard’s Hot R & B / Hip-Hop Songs chart), “Freaks Come Out at Night”, “Five Minutes of Funk” and “The Haunted House of Rock.”

Whodini’s debut single ‘Magic’s Wand’, co-produced by British synthpop pioneer Thomas Dolby, was the first rap song to be accompanied by a music video, and Whodini was also groundbreaking on stage: their live performance was the first rap song. concerts featuring Dansecrew UTFO and future super producer Jermaine Dupri started in the show business as Whodini’s backup dancer at the age of 12. Dupri was of course one of the many artists who paid tribute to Fletcher and posted a flashback tour video on Twitter with the heartbreaking caption: “My God, this one hurts me, I can not even believe I’m sending this. Ex you know I love you, thank you for every word, every conversation every good time, may your soul rest. ”

On their official Twitter account Public Enemy wrote, “Ecstasy was my brother. Have been on the phone all morning. Ecstasy was one of the greatest ever to rock a microphone. Whodini broke barriers, set trends and looked out for us when we got up. PE returned the service, we sampled Whodini and brought them on tour. We had a real brotherhood, ”while this group is Chuck D also wrote, “1987 I participated in the @Defjam tour with PE. I tended to be nervous and watched 15,000 fans in front of me every night. There were 2 MCs who directly mentored my calm that summer. 1 was @RealDougEFresh, the other was Ecstasy of Whodini. Always there to reassure our advice. ”

A tribe called Quest’s Q-Tip called Fletcher “One of the most underrated voices in hip hop,” LL Cool J Fletcher called “one of the most important people in this culture to me,” and Ice Cube thanked Fletcher “To show us how we do it.” Other musical heavyweights who respected included Ice-T, Snoop Dogg and Sheila E.

During their careers, Whodini released six studio albums, four of which were certified platinum; their last LP, 1996 Six, was issued on the Dupris So So Def label. Whodini was also one of hip-hop’s most sampled artists; “Friends” alone was sampled more than 150 times, especially on the trail of Kanye West, Nas, Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Pharcyde, Public Enemy, Nipsey Hussle, Will Smith, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Fabolous, Nate Dogg and E-40. The group appeared in the 2007s VH1 Hip-Hop Awards and received the Hip-Hop Icon Award at Black Music Honors in 2018.

Check out the tribute to John “Ecstasy” Fletcher below:

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