RIP Bad News Brown

This morning I was woken up to news that you never want to hear. Musician, harmonica player, rapper, actor, friend Bad News Brown was killed last night. The full Gazette article is below for those that wish to more. For now, I just want to remember the music…

MONTREAL – With an impending EP and movie release next month, Montreal hip-hop artist Paul “Bad News Brown” Frappier was on the verge of a career breakthrough when his lifeless body was found over the weekend in a gritty industrial area near the Lachine Canal.

The 33-year-old native of Haiti, who was adopted and reared by a Québécois family, overcame internal conflicts, including a struggle at school with dyslexia, to become a motivational speaker for youth and self-taught musician opening for artists like Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and 50 Cent.

Messages from his thousands of friends and fans continue to pour onto social media sites in memory of the musician known as Bad News Brown, and his trademark harmonica. While Montreal police wouldn’t identify the victim discovered in Little Burgundy early Saturday morning, Frappier was believed to have been beaten and shot within walking distance of his St. Henri home, sources said.

Frappier, who is survived by four siblings, a girlfriend and a soon-to-be 3-year-old son, had his dark moments in the past, friends and family said. But the colourful musician known for his frequent smiles, ability to laugh at his onstage gaffes and his quirky habit of inventing fictitious French words with a Parisian accent, was now a respected musician with no known enemies, they say.

On the contrary, they say Bad News Brown went out of his way to help others, personally securing minor parts for 25 friends in acclaimed Québécois director Michel Jetté’s soon-to-be released film Bumrush, where the musician plays a key role.

“What really hurts is that I don’t understand the reason for this, we just don’t know why,” said the musician’s father, Pierre Frappier.

“There’s just no reason for this to have happened,” said Henry-François Gelot, Bad News Brown’s manager and president of the label Trilateral Entertainment. “He may have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Frappier, the author of the 2009 song Born 2 Sin, found music at a difficult time in his life. While he’d taught himself to play the harmonica given to him by his maternal grandfather, he performed mostly as a freestyle rapper.

Then one night, while waiting for a bus, an elderly woman approached Frappier – then a self-described menacing-looking young adult with a hoodie – he recalled during an interview with The woman commended him for his harmonica playing.

“It was such a fluke,” Frappier said during the interview of his new passion for the harmonica. “People tripped out and I ran with it.”

The man who’d been saved as an infant from a Haitian orphanage was now saved again by music, Gelot said.

Frappier began a new career as a Montreal street busker.

“Busking was the smartest thing I ever did in my life,” he is quoted as saying on Wikipedia. “It paid my bills, bought me my studio and within two years I estimate 50 per cent of the city knew I existed.”

According to the site, Frappier adopted his stage name at the suggestion of fellow Montreal rapper Misery. It was the name of his childhood favourite WWF wrestler, Bad News Brown.

Weekly arts and music magazine Montreal Mirror gave him the title of best busker of Montreal. He was later chosen as the host for the 2004 National Film Board documentary, Music for a Blue Train – a bluesy portrait of the musicians who busk in Montreal’s métro.

As his music matured, Bad News Brown gained recognition for the way he embedded harmonica sounds into evolving new hip-hop beats, the site said. He played in more than 200 venues around the world, most recently opening for Red Café at Club Soda on Jan. 9.

“He worked himself up from the métro to nightclubs to some full stadiums,” Gelot said. “He was full-throttle in his music.”

Bad News Brown also made a point of sharing his life experience with youth.

As part of the Music With Meaning tour, he spoke to an audience of mostly teenage boys in 2009 at Shawbridge, a youth detention centre operated by Batshaw Youth Services.

“They were pretty into it,” recalled Steev Blackett, a Batshaw worker. “They wanted his autograph.”

Only a week ago, at an event for Black History Month, Blackette recalled overhearing teen participants saying they wanted to be just like Bad News Brown.

It is the seventh homicide this year in Montreal. Last year on this same date, there were three.

by  Allison Lampert

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