Friday, April 11, 2008

Friend Remembers Aziz

The voice on the phone quivered with the grief of a young man who has endured a senseless tragedy. Each sentence ending with a mournful deep breath.

Eric Muñoz, aka Ghambit, struggled to find the right words in remembrance of his friend Aziz James, aka The Almighty Aziz. James was killed early Saturday morning by Santa Clara police, after allegedly losing control at a party.

Aziz, 24, grew up in the Watsonville and Aptos area and was a fixture on the Santa Cruz and Central Coast hip-hop scene. A member of the group Warlordz as well as a solo artist, he performed regularly at The Catalyst in downtown Santa Cruz, both as an opening act for national artists and during local talent showcases.

According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, police and friends say Aziz stabbed a police dog multiple times after stabbing a friend at the party. He had jumped through a glass plate window, run to a nearby house, jumped through another window and stabbed another friend who was reportedly trying to calm him down.

Aziz had no known criminal record in California, and his brother said he has no known history of mental illness. It's unclear if he had taken drugs, on purpose or accident, but friends say he wasn't known for abusing substances. Several said they wondered whether someone slipped him something in a drink or into a marijuana joint.

A few days after the incident, Munoz, who was also quoted in the Merc story, could only think about his friend.

“He was a talented artist and he needs to be recognized for what he is,” said Munoz. “He was like a brother of mine. He's really going to be missed.”

In the days following the incident, emotional messages from friends have been popping up on bulletins. Some expressing their sorrow. Others showing anger toward the police officers involved in the shooting.

All expressed shock and disbelief for the loss of Aziz.

“We don't have the right words right now to properly describe this tragedy,” read one post from Ineffable Records, the recording and promotional crew Aziz belong to. “As some of you know, Aziz James aka Almighty Aziz, has passed on. R.I.P. To our dear friend, brother & incredibly talented artist Aziz! We love & will forever miss you!”

Another, posted by Ineffable Records Promotions Coordinator, revealed the pain that most who knew him are experiencing.

“I thought I would be able to sleep last night after I heard the news about my (our) homie but nope, I'm hurting that I lost a true Homie this way. I just don't understand. If you knew Aziz then you're probably feeling the same as a lot of us — how could this happen? Is this true? I'm (at) a loss. We all are. I will never forget you Aziz and I know you will be peepin' over all of us as the true homie you are.”

Munoz, 24, said he grew up with Aziz. They made music together. They hung out together. Munoz was with Aziz before he died.

“I don't want to get into what happened that night,” he said, following it up with a long, deep sigh that further revealed the tragedy.

Before getting off the phone, Munoz wanted the public to know Ineffable Records is planning a benefit concert May 3 at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. No details were available yet on who might perform.

It's a safe bet that the Ineffable Records crew, which consists of Ghambit, Sincere, The Skaflaws, and Rise of the Revolution among others, will be on hand.

To listen to Aziz's music, visit

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