The hip-hop world absorbed yet another ferocious blow when word began to circulate on Wednesday (Dec. 23) that John “Ecstasy” Fletcher, co-founder of the legendary rap group, Whodini, had died. He was 56 years old.
Tributes from some of the music’s world's most revered artists immediately began to surface on social media from those who knew him like producer Jermaine Dupri, LL Cool J, Slick Rick and Big Daddy Kane to those who respected his artistry and contributions to the art form like Q-Tip, D-Nice, and Questlove.
Ecstasy, along with his partners and the group’s co-founders Drew Carter, aka Grandmaster Dee, and rapper Jalil Hutchins, formed Whodini in 1982. The Brooklyn, NY based crew gained mainstream attention in 1984 for their hits “Five Minutes Of Funk,” “Freaks Come Out at Night” and “One Love.” They continued to soar with six studio albums, two of which (“Back in Black” and “Open Sesame”) went gold. And while they stopped making new music in the mid-90s, the group never stopped working with one another, forever connected by music, family, and friendship. This loss is especially difficult for the two men who knew Ecstasy the best — Grandmaster Dee and Jalil Hutchins.
“This was my brother, my partner, my friend. Hip-hop just lost a hip-hop god,” said Hutchins during a phone call with BET.com from his Atlanta home. He was still emotional after hearing the news just yesterday about Fletcher’s sudden death. “We see each other more than we see our own kids sometimes.”
While a cause of death has yet to be determined, Hutchins did confirm that it was not related to the coronavirus pandemic. However, he explained that Ecstasy did have an issue with his lungs about a year ago, but he had seemingly recovered.
“We were just together. There’s a new project coming out called, “One World” with these young artists and that’s what we were doing just the day before. When I last spoke to him, he was going home from the Waffle House.”
Hutchins first met Ecstasy 36-years ago after calling up Mr. Magic, the DJ and host of “Rap Attack” on WBLS-FM in New York City. Hutchins suggested he could make a demo for Mr. Magic based on the show which was exclusively devoted to rap and allowed a lot of young up-and-coming artists to expose their music to a wider audience.
“I told him I wanted to do one and he was like, ‘I don't know what you’re talking about, but bring it on down,’” said Hutchins. “There were some guys around the way who I was rapping with and they were playing around, chasing girls and I was fed up. I was like I gave this guy my word. I told him I wrote it, but I hadn't made it yet. Then this guy walked by and seen me sitting on the bench. He asked me if I was there by myself, and I told him I was waiting for my crew. He told me about this guy, Ecstasy who had a dope voice and I was like, nah I got a crew, but he was like, ‘where’s your crew at now?’”
After letting that bounce around his head for a minute, Hutchins said he met up with Ecstasy soon after and asked him if he wanted to make the demo with him. The match up worked and along with Grandmaster Dee, the three would go on to establish the legendary hip hop group.
“We ended up working better together than the crew I was with. When it comes to partners, I think I had the best.”
(Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)