On October 24, 2003, Brooklyn rapper Jasun Wardlaw a.k.a. Half A Mill took his own life in the Albany Projects of Crown Heights, BK. The timing couldn’t have been worse: The year before, he had bounced back from his debut album, Milíon, which did disappointing sales of about 40k, with a new spirit and a sophomore record, Da Hustle Don’t Stop. The single was called “Still” and it served to reclaim Half A Mill’s reputation as one of the illest out, period.
He began his rapping career around 1995, when he did a demo with DJ Scratch called “Any Day Can Be Ya Last” with “Another Homicide Scene” as the b-side. Two years later, he got a big break by appearing on the final song of The Firm album, “Throw Ya Gunz,” with AZ. That led to a placement on the Belly soundtrack with a song called “Some N*ggaz,” and it was on from there. He scored a huge collaboration with Noreaga, Kool G Rap, and Musolini called “Thug Ones,” which would become the lead single for his first LP in 2000.
Judging by the artists he worked with early on, it’d be easy to think he was from Queens, not BK. He would show up again on AZ’s Pieces Of Man album for “Love Is Love,” dropping 5 Percent gems throughout his dense verse. His affinity for 5 Percent terminology in his raps and mannerisms also brings him closer to the likes of CNN and Tragedy Khadafi than any Brooklyn rappers.
Half was a member of Godfia Criminals, a certified group of street dudes including people like Blood Sport and Unique. In a documentary about Half’s life called Player Hating: A Love Story, Blood Sport recalls the day he found out his mother was raped and shot in her own house. He never cried; instead, he started wearing a red bandana to honor her memory.
He was something of a mix between Nas and Nature, fluid with words but blunt with punchlines. He pure blacked out on “Quiet Money” with AZ, one of his best known tracks from Milíion, and he was known to run up in WNYU’s radio station to drop ice cold freestyles. He was one of the most talented rappers at the turn of the millennium, but watching the documentary about his life, it’s clear he never found his way out of the hood. It ended up swallowing him whole, as well as many of the friends who appear in the film.
He was a natural talent, one of those select MCs who effortlessly blessed every track he touched. There was a dark bent to his music – to this day, nothing rivals a rapper saying, “One day, my pops took a lit cigarette and put it right on my balls.” There was something from his street life that translated to an inimitable style, and it made him stand out from the pack.
To celebrate his life on the 11th anniversary of his death, we’re posting some classic freestyles, mixtapes, and random loosies for you to really learn how nice Half A Mill was.
First, five WNYU freestyles, all courtesy of Dirty Waters with some dating back to 1996.
Download: Half-A-Mill WNYU Freestyles
Next, the Project Prophets mixtape, full of exclusive freestyles, lost tracks, and popular Half songs.
Download: Prophet Projects
Finally, we threw together a couple loosies that were floating around, including a Justo All Stars freestyle, a demo called “Executioner’s Song,” three freestyles with Nature, a song with AZ called “Groove On,” a track called “In The Projects,” a freestyle from a Stretch Armstrong tape, a freestyle with Duchess from 1995, and a song called “Recognize The Name.” Enjoy.
Download: Half-A-Mill Loosies
Props to the good guys at The TROY Blog for originally putting up a majority of this stuff.
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