The long-running hip-hop podcast Combat Jack Show will post its final show this week, a "cathartic" reunion of regulars, ex-hosts and frequent guests who gathered to pay tribute to the late founder Reggie Ossé, producers tell Billboard.
"It was closure," says Jonathan Mena, the show's producer. "It's what he would've wanted."
After Ossé died of colon cancer at age 53 in late December, producers of the 7-year-old show, which has interviewed stars from Ice Cube to LL Cool J, struggled with how to move forward. They finally decided to record a final broadcast last Thursday night, including co-hosts Dallas Penn and Premier Pete and longtime guests such as producer Just Blaze, social critic Jamilah Lemieux and Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie (also known as The Madd Rapper).
"It was a throwback to that barbershop talk -- some people were going off on a tangent, telling stories, a little bit of everything," Mena says. Adds Aaron "A-King" Howard, the show's co-host and executive producer: "It became therapeutic. To get everybody in the room, it was like, 'Wow, we're actually doing this.'"
Ossé, an ex-hip-hop attorney who worked with Jay-Z and Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, switched to podcasting in 2010. The Combat Jack Show, modeled after Howard Stern's comedic studio crew, was one of the first major hip-hop podcasts, evolving from friends hanging out into a slick broadcast that drew hundreds of thousands of listeners and major advertisers. Ossé had told Billboard last September he had "no thought about making a living out of it, as much as 'how could I compress from all the stress, and especially the corporate PTSD, I developed from years in the music industry?'"
Loud Speakers Network will maintain the archive of Combat Jack Show episodes and continue to post ongoing spin-offs such as "The Read" and "The Corner." "[Ossé] was an integral voice of the industry, and we're going to miss that," Howard says. "But I'm thankful we can keep that voice going through what we're doing."