When Oak Cliff rapper C. Struggs died of esophageal cancer two years ago, he left behind a wealth of music to be released posthumously. One of those mixtapes was finally released last month and offers a side of Struggs many had not seen musically.
"He really wasn't in a good space," says Struggs' manager Joseph "ATM" Merchant. "It's a jamming album, but it's also dark because he's sending you through his mind process on what he was going through during that time."
Hosted by Texas legend DJ Michael "5000" Watts, Brad Jordan Jr. is named after Houston rapper and former Geto Boys member Brad "Scarface" Jordan Jr., whose vocal delivery is similar to Struggs'.
"[Scarface] was originally supposed to be on the album," says Merchant, who also runs Clone Free Music. Merchant says he kept in contact with Jordan, a one-time Houston City Council candidate, for a feature, "but when [he was diagnosed with COVID-19], I just kind of left it alone."
Merchant decided to shelve several other tracks that included popular artists such as E-40, Paul Wall, and Tum Tum. Those will appear on an upcoming mixtape called Why Not Hustle 3.
"We actually had [Brad Jordan Jr.] finished before Why Not Hustle 2 came out, but we were waiting on features," Merchant explains. "We got a couple back, and I just decided to hold off until the next tape."
Merchant says there are still around 17 unreleased Struggs tracks waiting to be heard.
"I know I have enough for [Why Not Hustle 3]," he says. "Do I have enough for the tape after that, and will it be well put together? It will just have to make sense."
Struggs amassed quite the catalog during his life, releasing more than a handful of mixtapes and recording over 250 features for artist collaborations before this death.
"Struggs was one of the hardest working artists Texas has ever seen," says LaRon Perkins, better known as the videographer "Halfpint Filmz." The duo filmed multiple videos throughout the years with a couple of those filmed while Struggs was undergoing chemotherapy.
"When we look back 10 or 15 years from now, and see the work ethic, I truly believe that no one was working as hard as he was," Merchant says of the rapper. "He really showed a lot of artists in Dallas how to work, how to grind, and how to put themselves on."
While it appears we are finally nearing the end of C. Struggs' musical output, his peers have no plans to let his memory fade.
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"He was like a brother to me, man," says producer and rapper Marquais "Classik Mussik" James, who frequently collaborated with Struggs in addition to Jamie Foxx and Miley Cyrus, among others. "He's a legend and will forever be a legend. I'm gonna let everybody know about that brother, what we shared, and who he was."
"I feel like C-Struggs left too soon," rapper Christoper "Fat Pimp" Murdaugh says somberly. "His job was undone. I felt like he was gonna beat that cancer, and just to hear his voice on this new project, it's bittersweet because I know these are gonna be [some of his] last songs."
Listen to Brad Jordan Jr. below: