37-year-old East Bay rapper Dominic Newton, more commonly known as "The Jacka," has died. KPIX 5 reports that Newton was shot on Monday night around 8:15 p.m. on Macarthur Boulevard near 94th Avenue in East Oakland, and Oakland police officer Johnna Watson confirmed that he was indeed the victim of gun violence. No suspects have as yet been identified.
NBC Bay Area has learned from a friend of Newton's that Newton was making music in a van with friends at the time of the shooting. According to that friend, gunshots rang out and he saw that Newton was hit in the head. He reportedly died on the scene. The killing is the 11th in Oakland so far this year.
Newton's career as The Jacka began in the late '90s during which he was a member of the group Mob Figaz. He later launched a solo career in 2001 and his own record label, The Artist Records. He is survived by his wife and children.
In an article published by the Bay Area News Group in 2005, Newton explains that his rap name came from charges of carjacking and stealing. He served a one year sentence for grand theft auto and armed robbery, during which he was the youngest inmate held at the Martinez Detention Center. The rapper's early life was difficult, though perhaps he didn't see it that way. "Growing up poor is really nothing because it's a way of life, and you get used to it," he's quoted as saying. "Will you make it is the question." Newton was born to a 14-year-old mother and his father was incarcerated for 15 years. At a young age, he converted to Islam, changing his name to Shaheed Akbar before dubbing himself The Jacka.
For SF Weekly, jazz/hip-hop impresario Kev Choice wrote, "To say that The Jacka was revered in the Bay Area would be an understatement. In his over 15 years on the scene, he was one of the most prolific MCs in our region."
One of many mourners on Twitter was NBA All-Star Damian Lillard, who tweeted that The Jacka was a rap legend:
R.I.P to "The Jacka" ... Oakland Rap Legend ! Life was taken tonight IN OAKLAND. Got to do better toward our own man ...— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) February 3, 2015