Los Angeles -For most hip hop aficionados, Havoc Da Mouthpiece’s claim to fame goes back to the pioneer days of the west coast’s gangsta’ hip hop era when he was the frontman for the rap crew South Central Cartel, and west coast rap duo Havoc and Prodeje. Few realized that the Chicago native actually had roots that nestled deep in the foundation of R&B, as his father, Robert “Squirrel” Lester was one of the founding members of the legendary soul group the Chi-Lites.
When Robert Lester passed away on Thursday, January 21 from cancer, a part of Havoc’s spirit went with him. Havoc’s latest project, from his new artist Drewp on GaimChng3r Entertainment, entitled “The Final Curtain” was in fact heavily influenced by his dad, while dedicated to the memory of Michael Jackson. While the song’s basic flow is hip hop, its heavy old school soul sound is undeniable. In addition, all proceeds from the digital release were earmarked for donation to the American Cancer Society, as Havoc knew the battle Lester was facing.
“The last time I saw my dad,” reveals Havoc, “was last June when he was performing at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. The Chi-Lites were on the bill with all the old school heavies. My dad told me then, I was to carry on his legacy. But I never imagined he would be gone so soon. I am really mourning my dad right now! I’ve always tried to bring some old school magic to hip hop, and now, more than ever, I’ve got to do my part to keep the legacy of R&B alive amongst my peers.”
Havoc first collaborated with his dad on the single, “It’s a S.C.C. Thang – featuring the Chi-Lites” back in 1994, on the album in “In Gatz We Trust.” The video for the single, now a classic, was directed by Havoc alongside the then, upcoming director Brett Ratner and can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7R3NMq3MKk .
Chi-Lites’ members occasionally came and went, but Lester was a staple of the Chi-Lites throughout his life, playing concerts all over the world with stops in Japan, Germany, Korea and Greenland. His final performance with the group was last summer. He was 67 years old.
The Chi-Lites’ hits continue to be sampled. Beyonce and Jay-Z used the horns from “Are You My Woman” for “Crazy in Love,” and Jay-Z’s “December 4th” samples “That’s How Long.” Fantasia sampled “There’ll Never Be Any Peace” on her controversial “Baby Mama.” M.C. Hammer used “Have You Seen Her” and Paul Young remade “Oh Girl.”
Funeral arrangements for Robert “Squirrel” Lester are as follows:
Robert Lester’s body will lie-in-state all day Wednesday, February 3, 2010 from 12:00 noon at the Harold Washington Cultural Center, 47th and King Drive, Chicago, IL. Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, February 4, 2010. The service will be as follows: Family hour – 11:00 a.m., funeral at 12:00 noon at Third Baptist Church of Chicago, 1551 West 95th Street (95th and Ashland) Chicago, Illinois 60643. Phone (773) 445-8500. Fax (773) 445-2957. Interment to follow immediately after services. Repast to follow in the church ballroom. Flowers, cards and telegrams can be sent to Minor-Morris Funeral Home, 1018 West 79th Street, Joliet, IL 60433 – 815-723-1283.
Robert “Squirrel” Lester is survived by his wife, Louise; 9 children, his mother and 3 sisters.
(Pictured from left to right: Drewp and Havoc from Gaim Chang3r Entertainment.)