By ELIZABETH CZAPSKI
Homicide Watch Chicago
Chicago hip-hop artist Marcus Alexander’s newest single, “Moment of Silence,” pleads for an end to gun violence in the city, and its inspiration bloomed out of personal tragedy—Alexander’s stepbrother Hector Badillo Jr. was shot and killed in East Garfield Park last July.
Badillo, also known as “Coonie,” was passionate about cars, and spent a lot of time at his father’s auto body shop working on them, especially on his treasured 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle. He also enjoyed playing cards and dominoes with his father and other employees, according to Alexander and other family members. “They were hanging out on a normal Saturday like they always do” when Badillo was killed, Alexander said.
Badillo, 31, was outside the shop while his fiancee sat in her SUV across the street about 3:30 a.m on July 2, 2016. That’s when someone walked out of an alley in the middle of the 700 block of North California and fired shots, according to Chicago Police and Badillo’s family.
He was struck in the neck and fell to the ground. The shooter then ran back down the alley.
A witness waiting outside a nearby bar for an Uber said he heard gunfire and saw a man on the ground. He said he ran to the man and tried to help him.
“I just saw a guy laying there,” said the shaken man, who had blood on his arms and shirt. “He just bled out.”
Badillo, who lived in the 400 block of North Trumbull, was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:41 a.m., the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
Alexander, who did not want his real last name used, described Badillo as “an awesome guy” and “a great father” who left behind a fiancee and three children.
“To me, he was the definition of a father—somebody that his kids can look up to, someone that the kids knew would never go away, that he’d always be there for them,” Alexander said.
“He was fun to be around,” was “always cracking jokes” and had a strong relationship with his mother (Alexander’s stepmother). “You can just tell there was always so much love there,” Alexander said.
Alexander met Badillo when they were teens and enjoyed watching him grow into his own as they became adults. “You got to see him grow as a man, you got to see him mature and take responsibility for himself and his kids and his fiancee,” he said.
The outpouring of love and support at Badillo’s wake stunned Alexander.
“There was literally a line out of the door for…three to four hours of people just coming to pay their respects,” he recalled. “It was a beautiful thing.”
It inspired Alexander to turn his next musical endeavor into a call to action.
“I was born and raised in Chicago so I know all about the violence taking place, but it really hit home once it affected my family,” Alexander said. “I wanted to use the influence of music…to take a stance and let people know that the violence needs to stop.”
He strives to create positive hip-hop music, and even has a hashtag, #ShareThePositivity, to promote his work. Alexander said he has experienced several traumatic events in his life and has found beauty in the fight to overcome them.
“A lot of the things that I’ve learned throughout my struggles, throughout my healing, throughout my time in therapy, I want to share with other people,” he said.
He wants #ShareThePositivity to transcend himself and his music to become a way of life for his listeners. “I want to leave a legacy on this earth,” he said, as “a man…who promoted a positive lifestyle to instill in other people.”
Alexander’s latest single, “Moment of Silence,” is part of his upcoming album “Lyrical Therapy.” The music video for “Moment of Silence” features Alexander rapping in a funeral home in front of an empty casket, and standing in a field of crosses that have the names of homicide victims on them.
He raps about the pain of losing a loved one and says that communities need to work together to combat the violence. “Can we have a moment of silence?/We need a moment of silence./Silence for the bloodshed, silence for the ones lost, silence for the senseless violence losing lives at all costs.”
Another scene shows Alexander in the middle of a semicircle of people with signs and t-shirts showing photos of their murdered loved ones. Each person, gathered with the others at a vigil, holds a lit candle. Alexander emphasized that they were “real people, not actors,” who had responded to an advertisement he’d put out.
He said many people who were in the video told him afterward that they appreciated the ”glimpse of their world” it gave to people who had not lost loved ones to violence. Alexander’s goal was to “show the reality” of losing someone, as well as to “stir up…a righteous anger” that will motivate people to work to solve Chicago’s gun violence problem, he said.
As the song comes to a close, the people in the video extinguish their candles one by one.
The video ends with a photo of Badillo and the caption: “In Loving Memory of Hector ‘Coonie’ Badillo Jr. Feb. 3, 1985-July 2, 2016.”