Family mourns Toronto rapper Scrilla killed by H1N1 [Article]
Toronto, ON – Sharon Modeste recalls the stunned numbness she felt the day her vibrant young son succumbed to the H1N1 virus just before Christmas. Advanced by the 21-year-old’s diabetes, the flu felled Matthew Modeste (aka Scrilla) in a matter of days.
But the family is just now learning how their loss has saved several lives.
“To me he’s a hero. He gave somebody a second chance in life,” an emotional Ms. Modeste said during an interview at her apartment in Toronto’s Weston neighbourhood.
Mr. Modeste, an aspiring rapper known as “Scrilla,” donated his kidneys, liver, eyes and some tissue. At least three people — ranging in age from 22 to more than 50 years old — have been saved as a result, the family recently learned through the provincial organ donor agency.
Yet Mr. Modeste, whose first full album was about to drop when he died on Dec. 14, will live on in another way. His fledgling music company, True Family Records, plans to release a tribute album this year, with Scrilla’s posthumous debut following closely on its heels. Mr. Modeste’s sound was informed by his experiences growing up in some of Toronto’s rougher neighborhoods, said Tao Piccasso, a friend and fellow rapper.
“He talks to the less fortunate, to the single-parent mothers, welfare people, to gangsters, to people in jail… He always glorified the smallest thing. Everyone would talk about Coca-Cola to put in a record, but he would say RC Cola,” Mr. Piccasso said.
Wearing shirts emblazoned with Scrilla’s name, his True Family colleagues laugh as they recall how he used to chase people down on subways and hock his early demo CDs for “two toonies and a loonie.”
“If he sees you, he’s going to attack you with CD sales,” Mr. Piccasso said. If someone chose not to buy a CD, Mr. Modeste would provide the sleeve for free in hopes it would drive people to his website. Sharon Modeste said she urged her son to get the H1N1 shot, but he refused, saying “if it’s his time to go, it’s his time to go.”
“There’s some days where I’m OK and other days I just break down,” his mother said. “I miss him. I’m missing him now. I remember he used to come through the door and say, ‘Mom, you’re good?’ ”
By: Megan O’Toole
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