Six Years Gone: Big Hawk Remembered
While it's never acceptable to lose a gifted artist to violence in the prime of his life and career, Hawk's slaying was especially hard to take for a number of reasons. John Hawkins was a family man who left behind a wife and two sons when he was murdered.
He was no thug -- after his brother Fat Pat was killed in 1998, Hawk shied away from glamorizing guns and violence in his raps, focusing instead on his love for his family, his friends and Houston's unique hip-hop culture. To many in the scene, he was a big-brother figure and a respected cornerstone of the influential rap clique that bore DJ Screw's name.
Most maddening of all is that his death remains a complete mystery. The night he died, Hawk showed up at a friend's house to play dominoes. His friend wasn't home, however, and when Hawk went round the side of the house looking for him, he was shot down by one or more punk motherfuckers who apparently had no problem putting the father of two young kids underground.
If anybody saw anything, they damn sure weren't talking. HPD turned up no leads and no suspects, and nobody was ever arrested or charged with the homicide. That's how it always seems to go when a rapper is taken out.
Hawk may be gone, but his legacy lives on in the city he called home. Thanks to Hawk's widow, Meshah Henderson Hawkins, and Julie Grob, the University of Houston Libraries' Coordinator of Digital Projects and Instruction, Special Collections, a number of personal mementos and artifacts from his rap career: A handwritten notebook of lyrics, rhymes, domino scores and other notes.
These are permanently preserved as part of the UH library's Houston hip-hop collection. This way, Hawk's place in the city's musical history can't be forgotten or overlooked by future fans and historians. No doubt the big man would have liked that a lot.
Hawk's music hasn't been forgotten here at Rocks Off, either. There's a lot of it to remember --Hawk's soft, smooth baritone flow was featured on dozens and dozens of albums, gray tapes, mix tapes and collaborations over his career.
In memory of his contributions to local music, Rocks Off has collected the following six essential tracks from Hawk's career -- one for each year since he was taken from us. Twist up a sweet, turn up your computer speakers and bang 'em loud in tribute to a Houston hip-hop original.