'I Still Feel Him:' Clyde Guevara's Debut Memorializes His Brother's Death The rapper released his debut album July 20, the second anniversary of his brother's death. FreeJAH is an ode to his brother Jahiem, who was murdered after serving five years in prison.
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'I Still Feel Him:' Clyde Guevara's Debut Memorializes His Brother's Death

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'I Still Feel Him:' Clyde Guevara's Debut Memorializes His Brother's Death

'I Still Feel Him:' Clyde Guevara's Debut Memorializes His Brother's Death

'I Still Feel Him:' Clyde Guevara's Debut Memorializes His Brother's Death

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/630861463/631434766" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

"I don't like to say, 'RIP Jah' because I don't believe he's dead," rapper Clyde Guevara says of his brother Jahiem. "The energy is still here, and I still feel him." Gerald Hawkins/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Gerald Hawkins/Courtesy of the artist

"I don't like to say, 'RIP Jah' because I don't believe he's dead," rapper Clyde Guevara says of his brother Jahiem. "The energy is still here, and I still feel him."

Gerald Hawkins/Courtesy of the artist

Clyde Ellison grew up in a part of Brooklyn called Red Hook, and even though it was a rough, economically disadvantaged neighborhood, he says the people he knew there had a wealth of talent and ingenuity. Ellison himself is proof of that. He's in his early 30s now and lives in Los Angeles as a rapper, performing under the stage name Clyde Guevara. And although he's moved across the country, his lyrics often grapple with the issues in his home community "like being a gangster," he says. "Being tough. It's really like the wilderness."

Ellison's debut album freeJAH was released on July 20, the second anniversary of his younger brother Jah's death. Jah (short for Jahiem) was killed just seven months after serving five years in prison.

Jah was 18 when he went to prison. In the months that followed his brother's release, Ellison did his best to counsel Jah to find his own path in life and focus on providing for his son. "He had his son right before he went to jail and before he went in, he didn't really have a lot of time to be a father," he says. "But when he came home, he was a great father."

Things were starting to turn around for Jah, then 23. Around the time he was killed, he had told Ellison he had a job interview lined up.

"I went upstairs for a few seconds and I heard the shots," Ellison remembers. "It happened in front of his son."

During the time Jah was behind bars, Ellison released only a few songs. But after Jah died, Ellison says he started working harder to turn their shared dream of hip-hop stardom into a reality.

"I kept thinking about the five years that I felt like I wasted the time I had," he says. "I wish I had been taking my music career more serious than I did at that time because he told me that if I didn't make it then he wouldn't be s****."

Now, he's finally finished his freeJAH.

"I don't like to say, 'RIP Jah' because I don't believe he's dead," Ellison says. "I mean, in this life cycle, yeah, but the energy is still here, and I still feel him. I like to say 'Free Jah'."