CHICAGO—Muslims, the Chicago hip-hop community and those who knew him from various walks of life gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Antwone “Twone Gabz” (Young) Muhammad. The hip hop artist, health care activist and follower of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad under the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan lost his battle with breast cancer March 30during the holy month of Ramadan.
Diagnosed with breast cancer at 36 years old in December 2012, Brother Antwone not only fought the disease for more than a decade with grace and determination, but he became an advocate for early screening and preventative health. His janazah (funeral service) was performed by Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, National Assistant to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, on April 14.
“This is a life of faith. He never complained, he never cursed God. He didn’t say ‘woe is me. Why me?’ That’s a testimony of a believer’s faith,” said Min. Ishmael Muhammad. “Antwone used his cancer diagnosis as a tool to encourage preventive health, especially in Black men. He was a gifted gift from God that touched us; touched our hearts.”
Breast cancer incidence rates were 52 percent higher in Black men than White men, according to the American Cancer Society.
“Breast cancer has taken a lot from me, but through it, I have been blessed beyond measure. Antwone Muhammad was one of those blessings,” said breast cancer survivor and awareness advocate Erika Bracey on her Facebook page.
“A two-time breast cancer survivor, he changed the game through music and his creative energy. He was not afraid to tell the truth about the Black version of the disease and address issues that others fear to tell. Twon you taught me that I can do all things—that my talent lies in my ability to believe that I can.”
Brother Antwone attended Muhammad University of Islam where he took an additional job in the bakery and became an expert bean pie baker.
Brother Antwone’s mother, Sister Endurance Muhammad, a former teacher at Muhammad University of Islam, taught him to love the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in both words and example. She joined the Nation of Islam in the early 1980s.
“Farrakhan is my shepherd and (Farrakhan) taught my son well,” his mother said. “I used to take Antwone and Monique to The Final Call and after we come home, we sit down at the table and ask them ‘what did you learn today?’ That boy could sit and tell me the lecture.”
After graduating in 1994, Brother Antwone attended the University of Illinois (UIC) in Champaign, Illinois, which is where his love of hip-hop blossomed.
“The most special thing about him to me was his mind and his ability to communicate to people of all walks of life,” said his sister Monique R. Young.
Roughly 600 people were in attendance at the service, including Cold Hard and Wild Style from Crucial Conflict, Malik Yosef, GLC, No I.D., Mike Love, J. Ivy, members of the Nation of Islam Executive Shura Council and many others.
“He was admired for his lyrical excellence in the city of Chicago and beyond. Music was a major passion space for him. Early on, ‘Twone Gabz’ worked with a very young Kanye West, he also worked with DJ Jazzy Jeff on his album titled, “Return of the Magnificent” on the songs titled “Go See the Doctor” and “Hip Hop,” said Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Tarrey Torae who wrote and read the obituary.
“In addition, he also toured and recorded music with Oscar and Grammy award-winning artist Rhyme Fest and Grammy-nominated producer DJ Terry Hunter. Gabz did a couple of spot appearances on DJ Jazzy Jeff’s tour as well as multiple special projects with Eric Sermon and Slum Village. He’s done projects with GLC and Mikkey Halsted as well. He was a master writer, an educator and a visionary with a dozen ideas, who mentored a lot of up-and-coming artists and writers with deep conviction,” Torae said.
Brother Antwone officially released two albums and three mixtapes and wrote a book called, “Cancer Saved My Life: A Killer who Became a Hero.” His latest project, “Holy Breath,” was released in February 2023.
Brother Antwone Muhammad is survived by his wife Lateefa Harland Young, two children: son Matayo and daughter Myla, mother Endurance, sister Monique, mother-in-law Sharon Harland, two uncles Archie Young and James Young, his favorite cousin Dwayne Muhammad, two nephews, Elijah Matthews and Koran Ferguson and a host of other cousins and family members.—Toure Muhammad, Contributing Writer