Editor's note: Christopher "Jax" Thurston collapsed onstage and died of natural causes due to hypertension, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiners Office. He was 32.
Jax of Atlanta's legendary indie hip-hop crew Binkis Recs suffered a heart attack collapsed while onstage at Lenny's last night and was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital.
According to close friend and Binkis crew member Flux da Wondabat, Jax was performing the title track from his 2007 solo album, Sharper Images.
"He was performing onstage and he just passed out in the middle of his verse," said Flux. "We went to the emergency room and then they came out and gave us the word."
Formed in 1997, the Binkis Recs trio (Jax, Flux, Killa Kalm) quickly established itself as a true alternative to the commercial, crunk sound that defined Atlanta near the end of the millennium.
"Atlanta is weird because it's two scenes," N.Y. native Jax told CL in 2005. "It's the natives and the transplants. And the scene that most people know the OutKast and Ludacris are all from here. A lot of us on the underground level are from somewhere else."
The group's name still speaks volumes the acronym BINKIS stands for "Before Ignorant Niggas Killed Intelligent Songs." They released several CDs, including 2003's The Reign Begins. Though most failed to register commercially, their impact among Atlanta's independent hip-hop scene is still felt.
"Binkis Recs paved the way for what a lot of younger Atlanta hip-hop musicians are able to do right now," says former ATF Records label mate and friend, J-Mil of Collective Efforts. "A lot of people don't even know that DJ Drama got his start with these brothers."
While he was reminiscent of rap's golden era, Jax believed in pushing music forward, as evidenced by these lyrics from the song "Shift," featured on his 07 release: "'88 is not coming back/Nobody can replace Rakim or G. Rap/Slick Rick or Kane/'94's gone/You can't imitate Nas, Biggie or the Wu-Tang/It's just not the same/What you should do is take lessons from the eras passed/The eras made/And apply it to your own era/Leave a legacy using your own lyrical weaponry."
Jax had recently purchased a home with his fiancé, whom he planned to marry before year's end.
"A lot of people forget what kind of sacrifices independent artists make in an attempt to give people options in music. Jax gave his life to the culture, and that's a hard thing to do," says J-Mil. "While I want to celebrate his life, I can't help but miss the brother. I know I'm not alone."
As for Flux and the Binkis Recs crew, "personally, he meant everything. He embodies what Binkis is; he was Binkis," says Flux. "As far as hip-hop is concerned, thats what Binkis is and what hip-hop is. We just continued on with the creativity and enjoyed doing it and having fun."
Click here to see more photos of Jax.
Click here to visit Jax's MySpace page.
Click here to listen to music from Jax.
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