Arkansas Rapper Coca-Kazi was reportedly found dead after a struggle with North Little Rock Police in which an officer fired his weapon.
According to Arkansas Democratic Gazette, NLRPD arrived at a residence in the 4700 block of North Locust Street in North Little Rock around 2 a.m. local time on Wednesday (Jan. 18), after receiving a call about a disturbance. Upon arrival at the scene, authorities were informed that the suspect in the situation was armed.
In a press release following the incident, the police department said they were able to “quickly locate” the victim and helped them exit the home. The suspect then continued to fire shots from inside the home and began to leave while pointing a gun at the officers.
A single North Little Rock police officer then fired at the suspect, who went back inside.
The department’s Special Operations Unit and Crisis Negotiation Team were called to assist and, after establishing a perimeter around the scene, attempted to make contact with the suspect. When those efforts proved unsuccessful, a SWAT team entered the home where they discovered the suspect’s body.
While the NLRPD has not yet released the suspect’s name, Hip Hop Since 1987 has linked Coca-Kazi to the incident, pointing to a cryptic Facebook Live post shared on the rapper’s page around 2:48 a.m. local time the same day.
The 39-second clip opens in a darkened room with light coming in through a window at one point before the person filming turns on a light, revealing a large object blocking the door from the inside. The person filming, presumably Coca-Kazi, turns off the lights again and then asks, “What are you saying now?” before stopping the live feed.
A Twitter user who identified himself as the rapper’s cousin apparently confirmed that Coca-Kazi (real name Joseph Seriale Smith) was indeed dead in a post shared to the site on Thursday (January 19). “Lost another cousin today,” the person wrote. “That’s 2 in less than 7 days. This shit is naughty. Damn @cocakazi [broken heart emoji].”
Lost another cousin today. That’s 2 in less than 7 days. This shit is rude. Damn @cocakazi 💔
— ABG Rocky (@realabgrocky) 19 January 2023
An Instagram profile linked to Coca-Kazi’s label, Hunnafied Records, also appeared to confirm the artist’s death, with a tribute post captioned: “We will all miss you and remember you as one of our #FAMILY @cokakazi [various emojis] rest well master.”
The North Little Rock Police Department said they were not immediately able to say whether the suspect in Wednesday’s standoff died of a self-inflicted wound or as a result of gunfire from the officer who fired at the man as he left the home.
The police officer in question has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas and raised in nearby Camden, Coca-Kazi began pursuing his career at the age of 15, thanks to his older brother who saw promise in the young artist and his rap group, KOD. In 2006, Kazi moved to Atlanta where he eventually signed a production deal with Grammy Award-winning producer Wonder Arillo.
After running into some legal trouble, Coca-Kazi was released from his contract. While incarcerated, he connected with indie label Hunnafied Records, who facilitated collaborations with French Montana‘s Coke Boys crew on Kazi’s release (via Suspended vocal).
His latest full-length project, a mixtape titled Human Shield Vol. 1was released in March 2022. Coca-Kazi had released three new singles in the weeks prior to his untimely death.
HipHopDX condolences to Coca-Kazi’s loved ones.