One of the most unheralded rappers to come from Queensbridge is the rapper formerly known as the Intelligent Hoodlum. These days he’s going by the name Tragedy Khadafi.
Kicking off his rap career during the mid-80s as one half of the duo Super Kids, along with Queensbridge producer DJ Hot Day, Khadafi caught the eye of legendary Juice Crew producer, Marley Marl, who helped produce their 1986 singles “The Tragedy (Don’t Do It)”, and “Stunt of the Block.”
After a stint at the Elmira Correctional Facility for a robbery charge when he was 16 years old, Khadafi returned to Queensbridge and appeared on Marley’s 1988 compilation album, In Control, Volume 1, featuring on “The Rebel” and “Live Motivator.”
In an interview with Red Bull Music Academy, Marley Marl told Jeff “Chairman” Mao that it was Khadafi who set off the blueprint for future Queensbridge greats like Nas, Mobb Deep, Cormega and Capone-N-Noreaga. He also revealed that Khadafi was the first rapper to ever say “illmatic” in a rhyme, although he mistakenly said it was on “Live Motivator,” when it was really on “The Rebel.”
Marley Marl: Actually, Tragedy was the one that I could say that he made the blueprint for Queensbridge rappers. The same blueprint that Nas would follow, Mobb Deep would follow, Cormega and Screwball and so on. He was the architect of Queensbridge rap, that flow. There’s a song called “Live Motivator” you could Google it, look for it, by an artist called Tragedy. The second verse is the blueprint of Queensbridge rap to come. He even says “illmatic” in his rhyme, so Nas clearly heard his rhyme style and picked it up. Nas was definitely from the neighborhood. I could say at this point Nas was, he is the greatest from Queensbridge.Marley Marl | Red Bull Music Academy
In addition to his influential rhyme style, Khadafi also played a big brother role with Queensbridge acts like Mobb Deep and Capone-N-Noreaga. He produced and appeared on multiple songs off the latter’s debut album, The War Report, and was the one who gave Havoc his rap name.
“You can pretty much hear about the artists who I had influence on but it is all for the good because it helped another individual feed his family,” Khadafi said in an interview. “I also mentored Havoc and gave him his name Havoc. I can’t say that I had an influence on Prodigy but Havoc definitely did and he had an influence from Queensbridge.”
In a 2015 Billboard interview, Havoc would acknowledge Khadafi’s role as a mentor during his recording career. “He used to force me to write lyrics everyday,” Havoc revealed. “He brought me around my first industry gathering, first radio station, first music studio and stuff like that. He was and still is influential. He has a lot of effect on me as an artist, friend, as a person and [he] helped me start doing what I did.”