Reggie “Combat Jack” Ossé died on Wednesday morning, just a few months after revealing that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer.
Ossé is best known for his role as the host of the Combat Jack Show, a pioneering hip-hop podcast. The show began in 2010 as an online radio show, before eventually transitioning to a podcast format. Ossé built up a gang of co-hosts, including Aaron “A-King” Howard, Premium Pete, producer Just Blaze, and the internets favorite ‘Lo head, Dallas Penn, among others.
After years of revamps and reinventions, the show boiled down to the format fans most remember: Ossé using his lifetime of experience as a music business insider, and as a hip-hop fan who had grown up right alongside the genre, to get stories out of guests that they wouldn’t share anywhere else.
Ossé’s was one of the first hip-hop podcasts, and arguably the most successful. The show spawned a number of related projects: a TV series on this very website, a satellite radio show, an entire podcast network (the Loud Speakers Network), and an investigative podcast series hosted by Ossé called Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty.
But Ossé’s history goes much further back than podcasting. He started his professional career as an entertainment lawyer, who represented everyone from Dame Dash and Nore to R.A. the Rugged Man (the last of whom once memorably attempted to offer Ossé a very unusual thank-you gift for his services). Ossé moved up quickly, starting his own firm with Ed Woods in 2001. [Woods, tragically, died earlier this week.] But by the mid-2000s, Ossé had burned out on lawyering, and found his “second childhood” in his online alter ego Combat Jack.
He moved from the law to working for MTV. Then, shortly after publishing a book about hip-hop jewelry, Ossé decided that he wanted to share stories from his music biz days. So to maintain anonymity, at least at first, he created the persona “Combat Jack” and began writing, initially on a site run by notorious blogger Byron Crawford, and then on his own site, the now-defunct Daily Mathematics.
After several years, Ossé was offered an online radio show, and his journey as a broadcaster began—a journey that ran, in the early years, side-by-side with a job as Managing Editor at The Source. The Combat Jack Show had nearly everyone in hip-hop as a guest in its run (which, as of this writing, is still ongoing). Jeezy, Common, Pete Rock, Chuck D, LL Cool J, J. Cole, Kool Herc, Jessica Rosenblum—pioneers, business people, rap legends, and up-and-comers alike all paid a visit to Ossé’s studio, and his relaxed demeanor and insider’s knowledge base drew out countless revelations.
You can find most of the Combat Jack Show archives for free on SoundCloud.