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Steve "Zumbi" Gaines, better known as Baba Zumbi of rap group Zion I, has died at age 49 according to a statement from the Gaines family via Bay Area radio station KQED.
Steve "Zumbi" Gaines, better known as Baba Zumbi of rap group Zion I, has died at age 49 according to a statement from the Gaines family via Bay Area radio station KQED.
Photo by Miikka Skaffari via Getty Images.

The Family of Zion I's Zumbi Launch Their Own Investigation Into the Rapper's Death

Zion I's Stephen "Zumbi" Gaines died on August 13th of still unknown causes. There is currently a criminal investigation open.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Zion I's Stephen "Zumbi" Gaines have been called into question after a Berkeley Police rep claimed the rapper was involved in a "physical altercation" with nurses and security at a Bay Area hospital. Now the family is getting involved.

The family of Zumbi has hired legal representation and is launching their own investigation into circumstances around Zumbi’s death.

In a press released given to outlets, the family announced that they hired Elizabeth Grossman of Law Offices of Elizabeth Grossman and Lyn Agre of Glenn Agre Bergman & Fuentes LLP so the family can do their own investigation to coincide with the criminal investigation opened by Berkeley Police.

The press release states:

“We believe there are witnesses who know firsthand the facts leading to Stephen’s death,” Grossman says. “We urge anyone with information to reach out and share their knowledge confidentially with us at

According to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle released earlier in the week, Berkeley Police have begun investigating Gaines' death as a homicide. BPD's Lt. Melanie Turner told the publication officers responded to calls from staff and patients at Alta Bates Hospital, where Zumbi was recovering from contracting COVID-19. Officers reported a patient was placed into handcuffs after being pinned down by hospital security at the time of their arrival. At some point after that, responding officers determined the patient "needed immediate medical assistance" and began administering " lifesaving measures" until hospital staff were able to step in. Turner declined to confirm the name of the patient in the altercation, but noted "unfortunately and sadly he was pronounced deceased on the scene."

The Zion I rapper's death was announced by his family on Friday, August 13th, in a statement to KQED. "It is with utter disbelief and great sadness that the Gaines family shares the news of the passing of Steve 'Zumbi' Gaines," the family wrote.  "My heart right now is just shattered," wrote Zumbi's Zion I partner and DJ, Amp Live in an Instagram post. "I would not be who I am today without my brother," Amp added.

In a separate post, Amp shared a GoFundMe campaign started by the Gaines Family in an effort to raise money for a scholarship fund for Zumbi's three young sons. The campaign has raised more than $100,000 to date. You can donate here.

On Sunday, August 22, there will be a musical tribute to the late, great rapper happening at the Township Commons at Brooklyn Basin at 1 PM in Oakland, California. The event is outdoors but masks are required to enter.


This story was updated on August 19th, 2021