reggie osse combat jack

Combat Jack used his 48 years to give back and share knowledge.

In October, Reggie Osse shocked the hip-hop world when he announced that he had been hospitalized and diagnosed with colon cancer. As a family, we often bicker about favorites. About who should be succeeding and who may be on their way out. We didn’t check those who were flagrant often, but when we did, it came from a place of respect. Reggie, whether you knew him as Reggie Osse or Combat Jack, helped foster that belief.

On his podcast The Combat Jack Show, he offered witticisms while being protective of what hip-hop was and what it was evolving towards. The phrase “for the culture” has been watered down into a generalized stew these days, but Combat Jack embodied it. He could be cutting in regards to a subject that went against the grain and was apparently in it for a check. Osse could be akin to a family member who checked in on you and celebrated your wins just as you celebrated his.

He was an anchor in that regard.

Combat Jack passed away late Tuesday night. He was 48 years old.

Before he stepped into podcasting, before he examined the life of his dear friend Chris Lighty as a passion project in Mogul, Reggie Osse was an entertainment lawyer. It gave him an eye and ear to the ’90s era of hip-hop, where Dame Dash was as mouthy as he was business savvy. And he worked from that because he was someone who grew up in this thick, almost impossible to ignore sphere of inspiration.

“Dream them dreams then man-up and live them dreams, because a life without dreams is black and white, and the universe flows in technicolor and surround-sound.”

Osse graduated from Cornell University and from there maneuvered in spaces he felt needed far greater representation. He formed a bond, a partnership with a firm understanding of who he was and what his purpose was as well. It eventually led to him becoming a managing editor of The Source, working with Spotify on the Mogul series and even a stint at MTV. Perhaps his most memorable work wasn’t in a boardroom or ensnared working for artists in legal trouble with contracts. It was behind the microphone, telling a story and making people comfortable enough to spill theirs.

The Combat Jack Show was the jewel of The Loud Speakers Network, an array of podcasts which now include The Read, The Friend Zone Pod, Fan Bros, Angela Yee’s Lip Service, Tax Season, The Brilliant Idiots and more. Osse managed the show from a patient perspective, getting guests to break down their highs, their lows as well as their gripes. He along with Dallas Penn, AKing, Premium Pete, Just Blaze and DJ Benhameen formed a welcome circle that eventually spun off a vast number of common phrases in hip-hop internet culture, specifically “Internets…”

If you held court with Reggie, he could make it feel like a room of thousands was actually just you and him. When I met him in Atlanta when he and The Combat Jack Show held a live taping in 2012, it didn’t feel as if I was meeting a legend. I was meeting a guy who was genuine enough to tell a kid from Houston that being yourself paid off far more than attempting to emulate anyone else. The words didn’t slip too far away from me.

The world is hurting without Combat. But like any father figure, he attempted to bridge the gap between hip-hop’s respective generations. He interviewed artists on the verge, in the midst of huge press runs and more. Jack usually got the best stories out of people. Sometimes, he held the best reactions as well. Even without his presence, the show continued on with new episodes, always making certain to tag #CombatCancer in the liner notes.

Reggie Osse was a father figure in so many ways. An encyclopedia of not only New York hip-hop but the culture in general. In his final days, he urged us all to love and see about ourselves and our health.

Long live Combat.