Hip hop has lost another true original.
Steve Williams, known in hip hop circles as Stezo, passed away at the age of 52, his DJ and producer Chris Lowe confirmed on Thursday (April 30) via Twitter. His cause of death has not been determined.
“Thanks for the love and when u can, play a Stezo joint for us,” he wrote in response to a tweet about Stezo’s death from Stretch Armstrong:
Stezo was a 1980s hip hop pioneer from New Haven, Connecticut. He was best known for his hit song “It’s My Turn,” the beat from which has been sampled by artists like Digable Planets, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Questlove paid tribute to Stezo on Instagram, with a post that spoke to his legacy and influence. “Before Hammer’s pants, there was #Stezo…before we all abused that #SkullSnaps #ItsANewDay break…there was Stezo. Before #AtomicDog fed an ENTIRE GENRE….there was Stezo,” he wrote.
According to the New Haven Independent, after leaving hip hop in the mid-2000s Williams worked as a barber, first in West Haven and most recently in Charlotte, North Carolina. He opened a two-man barbershop called S&S two weeks before the coronavirus pandemic began.
“We already ahead of the game,” he wrote on his private Instagram at the time of the shutdown, reports the Independent. “Me and my partner Spencer didn’t know how important a 2 man shop would be in the future, we started off social distancing and didn’t even know it. It’s not about how many barbers you got, it’s about how safe you can keep your clients, social distancing at its best, god moved us at the right time and thanks to our loyal customers that keep us in business, see ya soon.”
Steve “Stezo” Williams leaves behind four children and a fiancée.