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Community mourns Josh Reed: 'The city lost a true black superhero'

Posted at 2:17 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 15:03:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In life, Josh Reed wore many hats. He was a social activist, a chef, a hip hop artist, an entrepreneur, a father, and a husband. Reed, 37, died unexpectedly on July 5. His cause of death was not made public.

Reed, also known as Freeze, launched his music career in his room with his own equipment.

"They called him Freeze after Mr. Freeze from Batman because Mr. Freeze would commit crimes to get money to fund his research to unfreeze his wife, whom he froze to halt a disease from spreading in her body," Richmond rapper Noah Oddo said. "So even when he did wrong, it was for a just cause."

In high school, Reed and his friends started the hip hop group My Brother’s Keeper (MBK). After graduating from high school, the group became serious about producing music. Around 2012, Reed stopped performing and transitioned into music production.

"He was a staple in Richmond's hip hop community," friend Marc Cheatham, Founder of the Cheats Movement said. "He talked about economic empowerment and independence. Freeze embodied the spirit of who Nipsy [Hussle] was. Freeze was our guy in the flesh that was uplifting our community by starting his own businesses. To talk about him in just music would be putting him in a box, he was also an entrepreneur."

That entrepreneurship spirit led Reed to the kitchen. Last year he was part of the team that opened Brewers Waffles in South Richmond.

"His food staples are all over the city from top restaurants to the beloved food at Brewers Waffles, where we spent time crafting the menu and talking about life," friend and Brewers Waffles co-owner James Harris said. "You'll be missed my brother, thanks for all the insight and dialogue we shared."

"Josh Reed was Brewers Waffles," co-ower and restaurant namesake Ajay Brewer posted on Facebook. " There is no waffle shop without Josh. The city lost a true black superhero."

Brewers Waffles planned to host an event to commemorate and honor Reed’s legacy soon.

Part of the legacy, according to friends, was Reed's voice for change when given the opportunity. He often posted and confronted topics such as police brutality, economic freedom, racism, homophobia, misogyny, transgender, and women's rights in his music, on social media, and at events.

"His activism was not a conditional thing; he was always talking about everything that's going on right now. He didn't just show up for attention; he was out there because Josh fully believed in what he was doing and has always been a constant voice of the people," Anthony Gillison, producer and Just Plain Sound owner, said.

A memorial service was planned for early August.