Ghetto Brothers gang leader, Puerto Rican nationalist and Rubble Kings subject, Benjamin “Yellow Benjy” Melendez, passes away at 65—according to his wife Wanda Melendez.
“He died of natural causes,” author Amir Said tells HipHopDX. “He had kidney failure and had been waiting for a kidney transplant. His condition had gotten much worse over the last couple of years. I was told by his wife that yesterday (May 28) he fell and cut his arm badly. He was then rushed to the hospital. But given the complications of his kidney failure, sadly, he did not make it.”
RIP to Yellow Benjy. Sad to hear about his passing but in light of this being Memorial Day it makes perfect sense to pay homage to a brother that fought for OUR people and OUR fight. Well over half a million Boricuas have served in the US army and fought battles against people who did nothing to us but Benji fought for our people, our identity, our struggle. He educated, united and organized for our people, Brown and black alike. Never had the honor to meet him but in him a found a kindred soul who stood for the things I stand for and I thank him for that. And that’s not even taking into account the beautiful music he made with his Ghetto Brothers. Descansa en paz Benji, se que Betances y Albizu te recibirán con los brazos abiertos. Check the wonderful documentary @rubblekings by Shan Nicholson if you get a chance. It covers the story of the Ghetto Brothers and Benji amongst other souls in NY. I had the pleasure of interviewing Shan on my radio show when the doc first came out and I want to thank him again for covering that chapter of NY history. Trust me it’s a must see. Video on post was hacked from my bro @christianmartir #YellowBenji #GhettoBrothers #Music #Freedom #Borinken #Boricua #nuevayork #Soul #Funk #Latino #Despierta
Melendez, who is also celebrated for negotiating a gang truce between Harlem and the Bronx in 1971, is the subject of Rubble Kings, the 2015 documentary that centers the era of gang violence and drug epidemic in 1970s New York City.
“Benjy was one of the most transformative figures I’ve ever known,” Said added. “He went from street gang leader to social activist and inspired everyone around him. He stood as a social activist, a musician, and a friend to many in the 1970s South Bronx — what was then the worst urban area in the United States.”
Our condolences go out to Benjy’s family. May he rest in power.