Kangol Kid, Founder of Trailblazing Hip Hop Group UTFO, Passes Away at 55

Image: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Shaun Shiller Fequiere, famously known by his stage name Kangol Kid, a founding member of the legendary group UTFO, passed away on Saturday, NPR reports. He was 55.

Kangol had been battling colon cancer since he was diagnosed in February 2021.

T. Shaun Fequiere, the rapper’s son, confirmed his father’s passing on Instagram

“I just wanna hear you again, another hug, another embarrassing kiss, “T.Shaun’s post read. Fequiere wrote in a Dec. 18 Instagram post confirming his death

A trailblazer in hip hop, Kangol formed Brooklyn-based group UTFO, an acronym for “UnTouchable Force Organization,” in the early 1980s. Along with members Educated Rapper, who passed away in 2017, Doctor Ice, and Mix Master Ice, the group was best known for their classic 1984 hit song “Roxanne, Roxanne.” The song went  to the top 10 on R&B charts, 77 on the Pop charts, and sparked what became known as the “Roxanne Wars” after rapper Roxanne Shanté of the Juice Crew responded with her diss track “Roxanne’s Revenge.” Eventually, several other rappers responded with their own diss records, in an attempt to capitalize off the popularity of the song and the feud.

Before the formation of UTFO, Kangol and Doctor Ice performed as the Keystone Dancers, dancing for another groundbreaking hip hop group from Brooklyn, Whodini.

In an interview in 1985, Kangol told The Washington Post that he wanted the group to transcend the definitions that were being placed on them.

“We don’t want to be labeled as a rap group,” Fequiere said. “We want to be labeled as a group that can rap. We want to do everything. We may come out with a country tune.” 

He earned his nickname for his love of Kangol hats and received an endorsement deal with the company. 

“It was my thing,” Fequiere said in an interview with Hot 97. “The name just stuck. … It was the hat the cool kids wore, and I deemed myself a cool kid by crowning myself with such a hat.” One of his signature hats was archived at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

Working closely with Full Force, UTFO went on to record several albums and toured the world as ambassadors of Hip-Hop.

Throughout his battle with the disease, Kangol documented his journey on Instagram by giving updates on his health and encouraging others to get screened. Last month, he posted a pic with LL Cool J  who visited him.

“I stepped out of the recovery-room…and was greeted by this guy,” he wrote. “Maybe you’ve heard of him??? 😂😂😂 Ladies and Gentlemen, the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. G.O.A.T. himself L.L.COOL J @llcoolj @rockthebells visited me and elevated my healing energies in ways doctors can never duplicate. Thank you Baby Bro. I love you, man.”

Upon hearing the news of Kangol’s passing, Ice-T took to Twitter to pay tribute to the legendary MC.

“Wow… I’m waking up to this awful news..,” he tweeted. “I spoke on Kangol’s fight with CANCER a couple of weeks ago. He was a good friend and a True HipHop Legend. My sincere condolences to his family… Life is Precious and Fragile. RIP #UTFO.”

In addition to T.Shuan, Kangol is survived by his wife Tajiri Swindell, four daughters, Felicity, Tatiana, Jasmine, Amancia, and sons A.J. and Giovanni.

We extend our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Shaun Shiller Fequiere aka Kangol Kid.

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