Awood “Mr. Magic” Johnson, a rapper best known for his work in the 90’s on the No Limit Records label, has died. Johnson, 44, and his wife of 13 years, Chastity, were killed in a fatal car crash Friday, March 1, in Hattiesburg, Miss. The couple’s daughter, 12-year-old Twila Wise Johnson, survived.
Johnson grew up in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, in a musical family: his mother was the gospel and jazz singer Juanita Brooks, who passed away in 2009. His uncle is R&B guitarist Detroit Brooks, Sr.; in 2012, Johnson recorded the song “Beauty” with his cousin, singer Detroit Brooks, Jr.
When Johnson decided hip-hop was his muse, his gospel and jazz-playing family was supportive, said Johnson’s sister Timisha.
“Our mom encouraged us to do whatever we were passionate about,” she said.
“Sky’s the Limit,” Johnson’s debut as Magic for No Limit Records, hit No. 15 on the Billboard 200 and No. 3 on the hip-hop/R&B albums chart. It featured cameos by Mia X, Mystikal, Fiend, Snoop Dogg, Soulja Slim and others; he followed it up with two more projects for the label. In the early 2000’s, along with many of its other prominent artists, Johnson left No Limit, which filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
Johnson released a final solo album, “On My Own,” for the Koch Records label – which would eventually absorb a reorganized No Limit – in 2003. The following year, he scored a hit with the single “I Smoke, I Drank,” as one-third of the Body Head Bangerz, a group that included New Orleans rapper Choppa and former boxing champion Roy Jones, Jr. In 2006, it was announced that Johnson had signed to the New York-based independent TVT Records, but he didn’t release any material, and the label dissolved in 2007.
Most recently, Johnson had released singles on his own Banx Entertainment label. In 2011, he “>appeared on a panel with fellow veterans Mystikal, Mos Def and Mannie Fresh to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the local Industry Influence monthly hip-hop networking event.
Watch an interview with Magic, filmed by the local hip-hop blog Mighty Muzik.
As news of Johnson’s passing spread Saturday, condolences flooded onto social media from fans and collaborators. “RIP to my brother, Mr. Magic and his wife,” Mystikal tweeted. “God bless their families.” Performers Vyshonn “Silkk the Shocker” and Corey “C-Murder” Miller, the brothers of No Limit label owner Percy “Master P” Miller, also posted notes of sympathy online. Rapper Mia X Instagrammed a photo of the couple, sneaking a kiss.
Timisha Brooks remembers her brother as a loving person, for whom his wife and family always came first.
“He made sure we stuck together after our mom passed,” Brooks said. After their mother’s death in 2009, she said, Johnson, who had been living in Florida, moved to Baton Rouge to be closer to the family.
“Everybody knows us as a team,” she said, “and he was very much the leader.”
“He was a passionate guy. He loved his siblings; he loved his wife. There’s a comfort in knowing that neither of them has to live without the other. That makes it more bearable.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made, Brooks said.
By Alison Fensterstock, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune