On Wednesday, the hip-hop community took to social media to mourn the death of a music icon, John ‘Ecstasy’ Fletcher, also known as the Zorro-hatted co-vocalist of the revolutionary Brooklyn rap trio “Whodini.”
Musician and journalist Questlove of the “Roots” was the first to announce the news via his social media accounts.
In his Instagram and Twitter post, he wrote, “One love to Ecstasy of the legendary #Whodini. He was legendary and a pivotal member of one of the most legendary groups in hip hop.” The news was later confirmed by “Whodini’s” Grandmaster Dee to Variety. What a sad day for hip-hop fans.
The Rap Pioneers
At the press release announcing the death of the 56-year-old, no cause of death was given.
The deceased Fletcher founded the “Whodini” band in 1982 alongside vocalist/lyricist Jalil Hutchins and turntablist Drew Carter, a.k.a. Grandmaster Dee and managed by Russell Simmons.
The trio soon became the best of New York’s 80s rap scene in close competition with Grandmaster Flash, Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa, Run-D.M.C., the Fat Boys, and LL Cool J.
The “Whodini” rap band laid the blueprint for rap music when they released an R&B/electro club hit for the New Jack Swing movement.
A Legend Makes A Legend
The club bangers included a song titled “Friends” which peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
The group’s debut single, “Magic’s Wand,” which was co-produced by British singer Thomas Dolby, was the first rap song to be followed by a music video.
The “Whodini” members were also the pioneering rappers to feature the dance crew “UTFO” in their live performance, and future producer Jermaine Dupri got his first gig at the age of twelve as Whodini’s backup dancer. In his tribute to the icon, Dupri paid homage with a flashback tour video.
In The Spirit Of Brotherhood
In the caption of the video, Dupri wrote that he was heartbroken but that the love, lessons, and legacy Fletcher instilled in him would live forever.
The hip-pop group “Public Enemy,” wrote on their official Twitter account that Ecstasy was a brother and one of the greatest artists to ever take a stage.
They continued that the rap band “Whodini” set the pace for others to trend, embodying what a real brotherhood should be as they watched out for and guided upcoming artists to stardom.
A Band Had A Fulfilling Career
Over the course of their long and successful career, the rap band “Whodini” recorded and released six studio albums, four of which went platinum.
The rap band was also one of hip-hop’s most-listened-to artists; their single “Friends” sampled more than 150 times. “Whodini” was also notable on tracks made by musical stars including Kanye West, Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, the Pharcyde, Nas, Public Enemy, Nipsey Hussle, Fabulous Will Smith, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Nate Dogg.
The group made an appearance on the 2007’s VH1 Hip-Hop Honors and bagged the Hip-Hop Icon Award at the Black Music Honors festival in 2018.