Biographies on subjects that I have little interest in have become my cable television, which is how I've wound up currently reading Michael J. Fox's post-Parkinson's memoir, Lucky Man. The book starts off with Fox's description of an action film from the early 1990s co-starring James Woods called The Hard Way. I can't remember anything about this movie, so I looked it up on my webfone and was surprised to learn that it featured an early acting performance by Mos Def. That got me to thinking about how I don't really even know Mos Def's age, and upon inspection learned that he's associated with the Native Tongues Posse, which always gets me thinking about the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul. For some reason, the De La Soul track that swirls around in my head most is "Brain Washed Follower." It's a hilarious b-side from the "Me Myself and I" 12" which features a youngster named Jeff telling De La Soul all of the things that they're doing wrong as rappers. He gives them a hard time about not driving Nissan Maximas. He says they should have dookie gold chains. De La replies that they'd rather take mass transit and spend money on video games.
This got me to thinking, 23 years on, whatever happened to Jeff?
Jeff's name is actually Chi-Ali. He released an LP called The Fabulous Chi-Ali in 1992, most of the tracks were produced by the Beatnuts. A year before that he appeared on a Black Sheep track from their first record. The track is "Pass the 40," and I've heard it at least 100 times, but I somehow never made the connection. It was two years after the De La track, and his voice had changed a bit. Ali's music career slowed down in the late 1990s. Shortly after the turn of the century, he fatally shot his girlfriend's brother. He eluded apprehension for a year, appearing twice on America's Most Wanted. He was arrested in 2001 and is currently serving a 14-year sentence at Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
FYI, this news is 10 years old.
Tube-track links after the jump.
*Please note, I received this message from a reader named Joshua Savoie: "I saw an article you wrote in The Stranger talking about Jeff from the De La Soul albums having been in jail for murder. Jeff and Chi Ali are not the same person. Chi Ali is the kid from the Black Sheep albums, not De la Soul. Below is an interview with Chi Ali, at 40:07 he talks specifically about being confused with Jeff."