by Rachel Swan
Conscious Daughters rapper Karryl Smith (aka Special One), who was the subject of a 2004 East Bay Express cover story on female emcees, passed away this weekend. She was found dead in her apartment on Saturday, MTV News reported, though at this point, the cause of her death is unknown. Conscious Daughters were part of an early-Nineties West Coast hip-hop renaissance, known both for their fleet rap style and hardcore lyrics — which distinguished them from other women in the genre. They signed to Paris' label Scarface Records in 1993, released their debut album, Ear to the Street, the following year, and cut a deal with Priority/EMI for their 1996 album, Gamers. Their singles "Fonky Expedition (Something to Ride to)" and "We Roll Deep" are recognized as classics in the hip-hop canon. Special One will be widely mourned and missed in the hip-hop community, particularly by her longtime best friend and rap partner Carla Green, aka CMG.
In a Facebook post that's already circulated widely over the Internet, CMG publicly grieved her friend's death: "Thank you to everyone for your prayers I need them. I am sick over the loss of my sister. The cause of death is still unknown but I will try to share info when I get it. Pray for me and Karryl's other sisters Jessica and Tonya. We are all together trying to get through this."
Here's the Conscious Daughters' most famous hit:
Update: According to an email sent from the Conscious Daughters this morning, Smith died from complications associated with a blood clot. Her family asks that friends donate to the Karryl Smith Memorial Fund, the proceeds of which will go to her funeral service, and to her young son. You can donate online via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org