In a Vulture piece today celebrating the life and work of the late entertainment attorney and hip-hop podcasting pioneer Reggie Ossé–known famously as Combat Jack–it is noted that Ossé was taught by the artist Marilyn Minter while attending Manhattan’s Xavier High School, a relationship that would prove to be influential to his larger life trajectory.
“She saw that I had a spark, and she was one of the first free spirits that I met who was like—art for art’s sake,” Ossé said of the distinguished artist, who had a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 2016. “She was like a Cyndi Lauper chick in the gray, drab school run by priests and suppressed men and nuns. Through her kindness and how she forced me to push myself creatively, she became a major influence on me.”
After high school, Ossé went on to study fine arts at Cornell before switching to prelaw. “It was just a bunch of trust-fund kids,” Ossé said of the arts program at the school. The piece mentions Minter’s disappointment with this choice. “You’re giving up on your dreams, you’re fucking up,” Minter told him. “I was like, yeah, but I gotta find a way to come back to Brooklyn,” Ossé replied. “As this black kid, I don’t have the luxury to be just hanging out in art galleries. It wasn’t like now, where you can finesse anything. It was a sense of survival.” After Cornell, Ossé attended law school at Georgetown before entering the music business.
Ossé passed away last December at the age of 53 from complications related to colon cancer. Read the full piece here.