Remembering Reggie Ossé: His Contribution, His Kindness, His Impact
The Okayplayer family is in mourning over the loss of one of our own. Managing Editor, Kevito Clark, offers words of reflection in light of the passing of a true legend, Reggie “Combat Jack” Ossé.
I really don’t know if I can find all the words to sum up just how much Reggie “Combat Jack” Ossé means to me personally and the game professionally. I knew the man for almost 10 years and he never was phony, always had an energy that was positive, was genuine and funny AF. Today, Dec. 20, word spread that Reg lost his battle with colon cancer. The hip-hop community lost a real one.
Let me take a second to say that cancer fucking sucks.
We are in mourning. Friends, colleagues, fans, partners, and his family most especially, are coming to terms with this sudden lost. This is so sudden. It’s jarring how close to home this hits. I spoke with Reg not too long ago. Whenever we cross paths, it’s always all love and with his #CombatCancer announcement reverberating throughout our worlds, it was only right to check in on the big brother and see how he was doing.
The man was vibrant, a true fighter, with a grit and determination to fight against this situation and come back even stronger than ever. Those same attributes were the ones I saw when I met him at PNC Radio back in 2009. See, Reg was a part of a collective that was changing how the internet touched the music consumer. The New Music Cartel was already running roughshod throughout the game, breaking artists, getting exclusive tunes and putting the industry on its ear.
Meanwhile, on the other side, Reg was curating the game. Telling significant stories, taking audiophiles behind-the-scenes of their favorite rap stars in a way that was like Charlie Rose or Nelson George. It was endearing to read someone so invested in hip-hop, care about it the way he did and make it as entertaining as he did as was the case with his Daily Mathematics blog. So, when I was invited to this very special #BloggersBBQ (shoutout to Dallas Penn, AKING and co.) — it was not only a chance to see my favorite internet celebrities, but to actually chop it up with them and vibe.
The way he was at that BBQ was the way he was when I spoke to him less than two weeks ago. Our health was much better then, but the man was forever funny, quick witted, a picture of positivity, giving almost to a fault and always there with some advice or counsel — because he was into what you were doing as much as you were into him. In fact, the last time I physically saw Reg was at this year’s Roots Picnic. The Mogul series had popped in a major way for him and his crew. He was no more just #Newmanati, he was a cultural influencer, shaping new paths for others who wanted to express their own truths.
We went back and forth about favorite performances, telling inside jokes like old people and Reg expressing his resolve that I would overcome my kidney disease and get a transplant. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders when it came to that and while I got a chance to say thank you for his support, it royally sucks that I couldn’t do much more while living to support him in his journey. A lot of people owe their success to Combat, but he never made you feel like you did. He instilled in others what were essentially the virtues of hip-hop: hard work, dedication, excellence in execution and remaining true to your inner beat. For me, personally, Reggie was a father figure, a mentor who I had the honor of knowing and I’m glad that I got the chance to tell him I loved him and how much he meant to me.
To offer an example at how dope this guy Reg was, at that same Roots Picnic event, while backstage chopping it up, we’re next to this velvet-roped-off, tented-VIP-area, which only allowed those with the extra-extra wristbands access. You can smell the good, catered food, and see all the lavishness back there—it was out of reach for your boy—and I work at Okayplayer! Reggie saw that look on my face, was surprised I couldn’t get back there to eat and said, “You want me to fix you a plate?” It was a brotherly, familial gesture that came from the heart. For me, that represented what he was, who he still is and forever will be—a shining black king who cared and fought for the best in us all.
For all of what will be said today about his passing—what he meant to hip-hop, how he reshaped the game, how he is the forefather of this hip-hop podcast shit—it all pales in comparison to what he meant to his close friends and family. While I’m just recounting his mythos and our personal experiences, their loss and pain is in no doubt indescribable, so, in closing, we all are extending our most sincerest condolences to the Ossé Family and those who knew him best.