Tag: John Fletcher

In Memoriam: John Fletcher (1964 – 2020)

John ‘Ecstasy’ Fletcher, of influential hip-hop group Whodini, dies at 56

Whodini is an American hip hop group that was formed in 1982. The Brooklyn, New York-based trio consisted of vocalist and main lyricist Jalil Hutchins; co-vocalist John Fletcher, a.k.a. Ecstasy (who wore a Zorro-style hat as his trademark); and turntable artist DJ Drew Carter, a.k.a. Grandmaster Dee.

Coming out of the fertile New York rap scene of the early 80s, Whodini was one of the first rap groups to add R&B twist to their music, thus laying the foundation for a new genre – new jack swing. The group made its name with good-humored songs such as “Magic’s Wand” (the first rap song accompanied by a video), “The Haunted House of Rock”, “Friends”, “Five Minutes Of Funk” and “Freaks Come Out at Night”. Live performances of the group were the first rap concerts with the participation of breakdance dancers from the group UTFO. Russell Simmons was the manager of the group in the 80s.

The group has released six studio albums. 14 singles of the group hit the charts of the American magazine Billboard. 4 albums of the group were certified Platinum by RIAA, due to their loud single “Friends” that hit Billboard Hot 100.

On December 23, 2020, Fletcher died at the age of 56.

The group’s Grandmaster Dee confirmed the news to Variety after the Roots’ Questlove first announced Fletcher’s death on social media on Wednesday. No cause of death has been given.

A Brooklyn native known for his trademark Zorro hat, Fletcher formed Whodini with fellow rapper Jalil Hutchins in 1982, quickly rising to prominence in the early ’80s New York hip-hop scene. Pioneering from the start — their debut single “Magic’s Wand” was among the first rap songs with an accompanying music video — the duo was later joined by DJ Grandmaster Dee, and saw a breakthrough with their second album, Escape, in 1984. Featuring the tracks “Five Minutes of Funk,” “Freaks Come Out at Night,” and “Friends” — the latter of which would be sampled by Nas and Tupac Shakur, among others — the album received critical praise and would later be ranked among the best of the 1980s.

Pioneering from the start — their debut single “Magic’s Wand” was among the first rap songs with an accompanying music video — the duo was later joined by DJ Grandmaster Dee, and saw a breakthrough with their second album, Escape, in 1984. Featuring the tracks “Five Minutes of Funk,” “Freaks Come Out at Night,” and “Friends” — the latter of which would be sampled by Nas and Tupac Shakur, among others — the album received critical praise and would later be ranked among the best of the 1980s.

Though lesser-known than other early rap groups such as Run-DMC and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Whodini are considered pioneers of the genre, cited as an influence by such rappers as Jermaine Dupri. In a tribute to Fletcher posted to Twitter, Dupri wrote, “My God, this one hurts me so bad, I can’t even believe I’m posting this, Ex you know I love you. Thank you for every word, every conversation, every good time, may your soul Rest In Power.”

Other musicians posted tributes to social media as well, including Questlove, who broke the news of Fletcher’s death. “One Love to Ecstasy of the Legendary #Whodini,” the drummer and Tonight Show bandleader wrote. “This man was legendary and a pivotal member of one of the most legendary groups in hip hop. This is sad man.”

(Combined multiple reports)