BY SUSAN DU
Homicide Watch Chicago
South Side musician DeAngelo “Elloski” Russell would open his studio to young rappers who needed the equipment to make beats.
Russell, 33, was fatally shot while walking with a friend in the 2600 block of East 83rd Street in the South Chicago community about 10:15 p.m. May 31, authorities said.
Russell, of the 8200 block of South Marquette Avenue, was shot in the thigh, leg and arm, authorities said. His friend was not injured.
Earlier that day, Russell was consoled a neighborhood family after the death of a loved one. The group hung out on the porch, laughing and taking photos with DeAngelo Russell’s camera, family said.
Russell’s mother, Ernestine Russell, said her son was on the way to a corner store when he was shot.
“It’s a shame and it’s senseless,” Ernestine Russell said. “They don’t know the heartfelt pain that went through me, the chills that went through after what they’d done.
“Whoever you are, you know your heart. Turn yourself in. I’m not mad. I’m not angry at you, but you have to turn yourself in because God knows what you did and it will haunt you, and haunt you and haunt you.”
DeAngelo Russell graduated from Bowen High School and later became a musician who spent hours in a home recording studio writing lyrics, making beats and playing music that could often be heard through an open window, family said.
The young rappers he mentored called him “The CEO.”
When DeAngelo Russell went out with friends he always brought his camera, family said. He enjoyed photography, especially capturing faces and moments illustrating life in his community.
“He was as for real as for real can be,” his mother said. “A man of music, the artist. He was my everything. He was like the backbone of the family that picked the family up. When no one was there, DeAngelo was there … That was my baby and I loved him to death.”
Byron Owens, a childhood friend who played basketball with DeAngelo Russell at a back-alley hoop they constructed from crates and a bike rim, described “Ello” as an angel who spoke life into the community.
“It’s taken a toll on me to the point that I really don’t even want to come outside,” Owens said. “The block feels empty, like the heart that we had on the block, it’s heartbroken … What did he used to say, ‘We’re all we got.’”
For Owens, the things he will miss most about DeAngelo Russell include the way he greeted his friends with open arms, his unrelenting positivity and his encouragement of young artists.
DeAngelo Russell didn’t have children of his own, but he had a fatherly way of looking out for his nieces and nephews, his cousin, Charles Curvin, said.
“He wanted his nieces and nephews to know right from wrong, good from bad, how to go up to a person and greet them,” Curvin said. “Even his enemies, his haters loved him to a certain extent because he always had some type of idea that they wanted, so they knew they had to suck up their pride. He kept this block organized. He kept everybody.”
Curvin remembered how DeAngelo Russell would open his studio to any young rapper who needed the equipment to make beats. Before giving advice about rap music he would tell young artists to stay in school and read constantly so they could write worthwhile songs.
Hershey Harrington, a longtime friend who recorded several songs with DeAngelo Russell, said they would rap about life in neighborhood, getting rich, taking care of her children, love and home.
“He did his own thing,” Harrington said. “He didn’t wait for anyone else to do it for him. This is what he loved. Everybody loved him.”