Police Seek Possible Tie In Freaky Tah, Big L Killings

Two rappers, murdered a month apart, were acquaintances and had worked together.

NEW YORK -- Police are exploring the possibility of a connection between

Sunday's murder of Lost Boyz rapper Freaky Tah here and the still-unsolved slaying of

rapper Big L in February, a detective said Monday (March 29).

Because the two rappers were acquainted and were killed a month apart, a connection

"is something we have to look at and keep in mind," said New York Police Department

Detective John O'Connor, who is working on the Freaky Tah case.

Freaky Tah (born Raymond Rogers), 28, was shot once in the head by a man wearing a

ski mask as he left a "neighborhood party" at the Sheraton Hotel in the Jamaica

neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., early Sunday morning, according to O'Connor.

The killer then fired shots in the air to ward off bystanders before fleeing, O'Connor said.

No eyewitnesses have come forward, and police have not determined a motive for the

killing, the detective said. But on Monday, a detective investigating the murder of Big L

called to inform him that the two rappers knew each other. Big L was shot numerous

times in the head and chest on a street near his home in Harlem, N.Y., on Feb. 15,

according to police.

Big L co-produced "Straight From Da Ghetto," a track on the Lost Boyz' first album,

Legal Drug Money (1996).

Police lieutenant Ellen Caniglia, who has been investigating Big L's murder, declined to

comment Monday, except to say no arrests have been made in the Big L case.

Ray France of Fat Beats, Big L's former record label, said the idea of a connection

seemed far-fetched.

"I seriously doubt that's true," France said.

On Monday, fellow rappers and Freaky Tah's mother mourned a member of a band who

bragged about a drug-dealing background but who was raising two kids -- his

fiancée is pregnant with a third child -- and helped out kids in Queens, where he

lived.

"I know he died for nothing," said former Beastie Boys turntablist DJ Hurricane, who had

hoped to feature Freaky Tah along with other members of the Lost Boyz on a track on his

upcoming album.

"If he had a problem with somebody I know it wasn't a big one, just a small one,"

Hurricane (born Wendell Fite) said. "Just some person who didn't care about life and

took it for more than it was. Hopefully they'll catch the person who did it. ... All these

rappers being killed and no one being arrested ... Tupac [Shakur], Biggie [the Notorious

B.I.G.], Big L -- they haven't caught anybody."

Freaky Tah's mother, who identified herself only as Mrs. Rogers, said her son was "a

good Christian and a good son" who had never been in serious trouble. Though Rogers

and other members of the Lost Boyz reportedly told interviewers that they had been petty

drug dealers before going straight and embracing hip-hop, Mrs. Rogers said those

comments were "hype."

"He was like the consummate hype man," said Georges Sulmers, founder of the

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based underground hip-hop label Raw Shack. "He just had an incredible

energy that translated not just on record, but also live," Sulmers said.

"The group was exciting, and he was the reason for that," Sulmers said.

The other members of the Lost Boyz -- Mr. Cheeks, Pretty Lou and DJ Spigg Nice were

at the party Sunday with Freaky Tah, according to O'Connor.

None of the bandmembers returned calls to their publicist for comment.

The Lost Boyz first came to prominence with two underground hits,

"Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz and Benz" (RealAudio excerpt)

and "Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless" (RealAudio excerpt),

both off their 1996 debut album, Legal

Drug Money. That album and its follow-up, Love, Peace and Nappiness

(1997), were praised by critics.

Wendy Washington, a publicist for the Lost Boyz' label, Universal Records, declined to

comment Monday on the status of their third album, LB for Life, which had been

slated for release in June. Another Universal publicist, Althea Spellman, said earlier this

month the band had been working on the album on and off for several months.

Freaky Tah left behind two children, Kahlil, 8, and Shantanice, 4, and his fiancée,

Shannon Roquemore, according to Mrs. Rogers.

"It's not right," she said, her words dissolving into tears. "It shouldn't have happened.

People are terrible today; they have no respect for life."

Her son and his bandmates, she said, were the kind of neighborhood men who would

"help local kids out with gifts and pairs of sneakers."

Rapper Capone (born Kiam Holley), of the duo Capone-N-Noreaga, said he considered

Freaky Tah a friend.

"That sh-- hurt me real bad," he said. "He's up there with my mom now. He's in a good

place. She'll take care of him."

O'Connor said, "We're optimistic that we'll eventually find who did it."

(Senior writer Gil Kaufman and contributing editor Christopher O'Connor contributed

to this report.)