“I feel a strange connection to the song ‘Mercy’ by Kanye, because in the chorus part where he does that screeching sound, it reminds me of Matt,” says Jenna Lee Solley, former girlfriend and close friend to the family of the late Dutch Garner, who was violently taken from the Montreal hip hop community he so devotedly helped grow one year ago last Sunday in a tragic double-homicide that also cost the life of his friend Einick Gitelman.
“I think he only had the ability to sing in a high C,” Jenna reminisced via e-mail last week, on the eve of a tribute show she organized with Dutch’s dad, Ken Garner. They took the time, painful though it may have been, to share some memories and talk about the loss of a good dude who friends still fondly refer to as “the Duke.”
“I’ve never had a disconnect with Matt,” recalls Ken, asked how he related to his son’s connection to hip hop. “Back in the day, [around] ’99, 2000, he used to make me mixtapes of Tupac, Mary J., etc. to listen to at work. It’s been game on from the beginning.”
Jenna and Ken have little to report to us about the investigation into Dutch’s murder one year later, which Jenna believes has everything to do with the alleged “drug-related” stamp on the case file.
“There has been no meaningful conversation with the police from day one,” says Ken. “Calls generally are not returned. When I first met the Gitelmans, I was upset about how the police had treated their family. After the concert, I plan to focus on them — the ‘justice system.’”
“I have confidence that the people — the monsters — who did this will be held responsible for the crime they committed,” Jenna affirms. “This will involve a lot of perseverance from those who are willing to fight for justice in this case.”
Local rap circles were still reeling from the yet-unsolved murder of another beloved scene-builder and talent, Bad News Brown, the winter prior, when Dutch passed.
Both losses have left a hole here that has sucked energy, emotion and drive out of many of the artists Dutch and News looked after, and even from those who never had the privilege of working with either. In short, it’s been a waking nightmare for many, cloaking achievements of every nature in a shadow of grief.
How many times do we have to tell ourselves that “the show must go on”? If you’ve ever lost anyone that meant something to you, then you know you have to tell yourself every day. And in that spirit, dozens of Dutch’s homies got on stage at le Belmont last Sunday to pay tribute to the man who time after time people — some of them his elders — tell me was “their big brother.”
“There was definitely a degree of pain involved in planning this show, but the purpose of the show was primarily to send off Dutch in the best way we knew how to,” Jenna says. “And to provide a healing atmosphere for friends and family, as well as to raise awareness that this case has yet to be solved and the people that did this are still living amongst us in our society.”
Fittingly, part of the proceeds from the show will be donated to LOVE.
“Matt had begun the process of working with LOVE before his passing, and knowing this was one of his goals, we felt it was right to make a donation to the organization in his name from the proceeds of the show,” Jenna explains.
Ken remains in close contact with his son’s circle of friends and extended hip hop family, and credits them for the love and support that has mutually kept him and his people in the fight since Dutch’s death.
“When we all hang together, it’s me who finds out new things about Matt,” Ken says. “Our hearts are healing collectively, but the hole in our soul was immediate and forever. I will add that he’s still with us.”
See Cult MTL’s tribute to Dutch’s memory here, including pictures from Sunday night’s show by photographer Cindy Lopez, and memories from a few local artists I contacted to reminisce.
Here’s where the show goes on this week:
Wednesday – Honest to God, I just found about this now, and in Cult’s own rawk column of all places (shoutout to the Hammer for holdin’ it down). Odd Future’s MellowHype is at Il Motore. With a punk band. Lawdamercy. Y’all know how I feel about OFWGKTA, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excited if you’re on the dick.
Thursday – Did we mention Hip Hop Karaoke returns to le Belmont this week?! Cult MTL (in the form of me) will be there to hand out copies of this month’s print issue, stickers and firm high-fives.
Friday – Bran Van 3000 puts extra Montreal into the M for Montreal festival, which pops this week and definitely has some good beats in the blender if you’re paying attention. Cult MTL’s fest picks are up, and I have a few more leads for ya there.
Saturday – Cadence Weapon takes Il Motore for his own M show with openers Mozart’s Sister and Karneef. At le Belmont, and off-M, Construct, Brace and Ghostbeard warm it up for the return of NYC buttonman Blockhead. (Check back in the next two days for Q&As with both headliners.)
Tuesday – Nothing like a good ol’ MTL Tuesday night rap show. A$AP Rocky and Flatbush Zombies get their papers straight, sans Danny Brown, to make up for last September’s last minute border bull-ish.
And it’s underground nerd early Xmas: Kentucky’s CunninLynguists lick it before they kick it in a rare Montreal appearance at Blue Dog Motel. ■