TY (Benedict Chijioke), 47
August 17, 1972 – May 7, 2020
Benedict Chijioke, better known by his stage name Ty, was a British rapper, vocalist, and producer. He released the albums Awkward (2001), Upwards (2004), Closer (2006), Special Kind of Fool (2010) and A Work of Heart (2018). Upwards was nominated for a Mercury Prize. Ty collaborated with musicians such as Shortee Blitz, Drew Horley, Tony Allen, Roots Manuva, and De La Soul.
In 1995, he co-founded Ghetto Grammar, a pioneer in hip hop education in the UK. Ty’s first album, Awkward, was released on the Big Dada imprint in 2001. His second album, Upwards, was released in 2003 and reached No.35 in the UK Independent album charts. The single from it, “Oh U Want More?”, reached No.65 in the UK Top 100. Upwards was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2004, only to lose to Franz Ferdinand’s eponymous album. His third album, Closer, was released in 2006, and featured guest appearances from De La Soul, Speech, Bahamadia, Zion I, and others.
He left the Big Dada label in 2007, saying “there’s a time when you … acknowledge that the people either have lost faith in what you’re doing or are no longer interested in what you’re doing” and experimented with spoken word for a period. He returned in 2010 with the album Special Kind of Fool, released by Barely Breaking Even. The BBC described it as “a mixture of uncompromising rap and populist soulfulness, often playing side-by-side.” His final album, A Work of Heart, was released in 2018 on the contemporary jazz label Jazz re:freshed.
On May 7, 2020, Chijioke died in a hospital, aged 47, due to pneumonia after intensive treatment for COVID-19. He had previously been admitted into a hospital in early April but had been moved out of the intensive care unit on April 19.