Baba Oje, once known as the oldest man in hip-hop and part of the hit rap group Arrested Development, has died. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oje had acute leukemia and died in hospice care. He was 86.
Although he never actually performed as a vocalist, he was considered the “spiritual leader” of Arrested Development and shared in the groups Grammy win. Speech, the Atlanta-based group’s founder, regularly feature Baba Oje in videos and on stage as he danced to the group’s rhythms. Most famously, he appeared in the hit video “Tennessee” that helped rocket the group to stardom.
Speech posted the following tribute on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
October 26, 2018. Hip-Hop culture just lost a soldier. #RIPBABAOJE BABA OJE the elder from the 2x Grammy Award winning group ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT passed this morning at 4am after fighting acute Leukemia, he was 86 years old. Baba was the oldest member of any hip-hop collective and his mere presence in rap spoke volumes for the genre and for a generation looking for symbolic wisdom and answers. He was an activist for the homeless, a military veteran, a world traveler, spiritual advisor to the group, strict vegan, dancer, vocalist and avid roller skater. His family & friends are scheduling service arrangements for him next week Friday. We will deeply miss Baba Oje and ask for prayers for his family. I met Baba hanging with the young dudes while I was in college, he was always super cool and always willing to talk to the youth! I gathered up the nerve to ask him to be in my hip hop group, he at first said no. But he later reconsidered when he thought about the fact that a young black man was striving to start a positive rap thing. However, we both found out that this partnership was bigger than we even knew. We both learned later that Baba knew my parents and in fact, was the best man in my mother and fathers wedding way before I was even thought of! That’s the spiritual bond we shared, he was literally like family to me, I will miss him terribly. – Speech
Speech visited Baba Oje before his passing and uploaded a touching video tribute to YouTube, which can be seen by clicking here.