Hot 97 reports that the great hip-hop podcaster Reggie Ossé, better known as Combat Jack, has died. Ossé was diagnosed with colon cancer in October. He was 48.
Ossé grew up in New York and studied law at Georgetown. When he became a lawyer, he went to work for Def Jam, and he represented many in the rap industry over the years. Later, Ossé became an influential blogger. In 2010, he started hosting the podcast The Combat Jack Show, which quickly became an absolute must-listen. His interviews with outsized personalities like Dame Dash and Kevin Gates were some of the most entertaining things out there, and he had a knack for drawing compelling, revealing stories from just about anyone.
Now please indulge me while I get personal for a minute. Back in 2006, when my writing career was just starting, I wrote a blog for the Village Voice and had a lot of fun writing what would now be considered hot takes about rap. Ossé wrote a blog post that absolutely excoriated me and everything I was doing, using pictures of Kevin Federline and Al Jolson to help drive the point home. At that point, I didn’t know who Ossé was, and I thought his piece was shitty and unfair. And some of it was! But over time, I came to understand what Ossé was telling me with that piece. I’d been writing about rap music, as a privileged white guy, without ever really examining that privilege, or how it might’ve colored what I was writing. I made a joke out of it. I was wrong to do that, and Ossé was right to call me out.
Three years ago, after I’d left New York and gone to work for Stereogum, I was visiting New York when I went to a Jeezy listening session with some friends. Ossé was there, and after getting my courage up, I introduced myself. I had no idea how he’d react to me, or if he’d even remember stomping all over my soul online. We ended up having a great conversation, talking until they kicked us out of the recording studio. It was a great moment for me, personally, and I’m glad I got to meet the man while he was here.
Ossé was a great podcaster and a warm, welcoming, generous person and a sharp, knowledgeable advocate for the culture that he represented. He leaves behind a family and a great legacy, and his loss will be felt deeply.