Life, Music, and Moving On: A Tribute to Roy Radics
I lean back in my seat, curled up with my headphones on, and stare out the window at the expanse of clouds and light that fill the sky. Some people are annoyed by traveling; they can't find their peace when hurtling through the sky at hundreds of miles an hour. But right now, the opportunity to be still, the sole observer of my thoughts, is a well needed gift and reprieve from the movement of everyday life.
Browsing my Spotify playlists, I curse myself for not saving more playlists for offline listening -- each passing moment reinforces that there is no such thing as “too much to listen to.” I attempt letting shuffle select a song that will fit my mood, but after skipping forward through hours of songs by a catalogue of artists, I admit defeat and close my eyes to the drone of turbines and wind.
As my parents and I head west the Monday of Spring Break to a four day adventure in Las Vegas, the promises of wild revelry and poolside relaxation fail to clear my head of the news of the morning prior. I had awoken to the my father’s soft voice: “It's Radics, something happened last night. He’s gone.” He continued, “Anton called me this morning, he said they found him unconscious in the bathroom. I'm still waiting to hear from the other guys,” but I didn't need to wait for verification, as I found all the proof I needed when I opened up Facebook to a landslide of confused statuses and memorial photos. The caption “RIP Roy Radics,” filled my news feed alongside pictures of the man, always center stage with mic in hand, who was now being remembered by friends, family, and fans for his performances on the stage of music and life alike -- and what a performer Roy was.
A longtime icon in the Brooklyn Ska scene, Roy was the frontman for the Rudie Crew, an 8-piece ska coalition of veterans of the scene. All the members of the crew -- or Rudites, as they called themselves -- were serious players, and Roy was no exception. He took us on voyages with his words, in his signature, English-Jamaican-chat style similar to that of dancehall performers, and crafted slick rhymes that complemented his rough but refined Rudeboy style. He brightened every stage he stepped on and put smiles on people’s faces every time he did so. He was in it for the music, and he loved nothing more than to call up a friend and fellow musician from the audience to join and perform alongside him.
Whether you’d run into Roy, a resident of Bay Ridge, on the street, walking to the Subway, or at his favorite pub, The Bean Post, he’d never fail to open his arms and give you a big hug, saying, “How’s it goin, mi bredda? You holdin’ it down?” He’d always ask about the family, and he’d never fail to wish you a goodbye with a sincere exclamation: “Jah Bless!”
As I sit here on a plane, soaring through the bright, blue sky, listening to This is Skragga, the last album released by the Rudie Crew in 2012, I feel positivity growing inside me. It drives away all the sadness and pain I’m feeling, and slowly fills the empty pit in my stomach with something else: hope. A hope that the world will continue onwards, growing and bringing people closer together in celebration of life. A hope that one day we will all be confident to stand alongside our fellow humans and not feel ashamed or afraid to call them brothers and sisters. A hope that the fire of knowledge and compassion may be lit in the hearts of all, and that it may never be extinguished.
This is the legacy of Roy Radics. He has moved on, but he is not gone, for he has left with us a wealth of memories and friendships that instruct us, “Keep trodding onward! Face life with head held high!” Through music, Roy has showed us how to treasure the joy in all facets of life. Although he is with us no longer, nothing can erase the impacts that Roy had on me and countless others.
I can say one thing for sure, and that is: there will never be another like Roy Radics.
We will miss you, brotha. The Father has admitted a cherished son to his kingdom.
"Life" by The Rudie Crew
Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/ReneScotlandPhotography/