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19-year-old rapper/producer Speaker Knockerz was found dead in the garage of his home on March 6, 2014. Although cause of death has yet to be determined, those close to him have said that he was not a heavy drug user, nor was the rapper living a particularly risky lifestyle. The bulk of his time was spent recording music, much of which built up a considerable fanbase without the attention of hip-hop media.
Today, the artist's family and videographer uploaded the video for the final song he released before his tragic passing, "Erica Kane," which can also be purchased on iTunes. "Erica Kane" (it's an All My Children reference) is, lyrically, somewhat pro forma. But his sense of mood and skill as a producer gives the song a particularly nuanced emotional center, ambiguous in the foreground but draped with a tinge of wistfulness.
Enraptured by the sounds of the recent wave of Chicago artists, the Speaker Knockerz sound had a melodic, carefully-crafted feel. While there was something of a street edge to his approach, relative to influences like Lil Durk, there was an optimism and naivete to the Speaker Knockerz sound. He was a bedroom auteur, not a gangster. He shed the hardened shell of drill's aesthetic, focusing his energies on two contrasting moods: a bubbly, euphoric enthusiasm, and a deep, aching melancholy.
Despite a complete lack of press around his work, Speaker Knockerz influence is heard in hits like Wiz Khalifa's "We Dem Boyz" and (especially) K-Camp's "Money Baby." Although he had a brief impact, it was substantial.