Nearly a month had passed since Shaka Girvan received an e-mail from Negashi Harvey last October saying he was finished with Supreeme for good, and still Shaka was desperate for a sense of closure.
The day he read Negashi's e-mail, he'd been busy putting the finishing touches on Supreeme's long-awaited Gold Medallion album: Warner Bros. had finally granted the group permission to release it independently. But with Negashi out and third member Sam "King Self" Terrell already quitting to pursue culinary school, the trio's career had come to an abrupt halt.
So Shaka decided to send his own e-mail to a handful of Supreeme supporters. In it, he would include Supreeme's last testament not Gold Medallion, but another LP apropriately titled God Bless the Child. He and Negashi had recorded God Bless on a whim, with minimal contribution from Sam, in two short weeks before Negashi's exit.
In Shaka's bedroom studio, the group founder and producer/MC worked into the wee hours mixing the last album. "Fuck it," he thought to himself after downing a bottle of Hennessy and smoking some weed with his roommates, "I want this to be over."
As he mixed the tracks, the raw vocals of his former partners in rhyme were almost haunting. "It was kinda eerie, all night for hours and hours on end, just listening to them screaming raps at me," says Shaka. "It's a crazy experience to mix an album and hear somebody's voice like that esepcially if you have certain feelings about them."
Though Shaka felt betrayed by his partners, he had nothing but love for what they'd accomplished. In a city where the craft of hip-hop often takes a backseat to the business, the three teenage friends from Grady High had found a way to turn their love into their livelihood if only for a moment. In the end, the industry experience they gained cost them their innocence, and ultimately, the group. Supreeme's swan song, God Bless the Child, mourns that loss of innocence while celebrating a coming of age.
(Photo by Joeff Davis)
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