Lionel Pickens, better known in the hip-hop community by his stage name Chinx, was driving his 2014 Porsche Panamera after the one-year anniversary of Club Red Wolf in Brooklyn, last May, when another car pulled up alongside and gunned down the rapper and his passenger near Queens Boulevard in Briarwood.
Unfortunately, the 31-year-old rapper from Far Rockaway, Queens, was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. He never made it to see the success of his debut album, Welcome to JFK.
Posthumously released on Aug. 14 by eOne Music and Four Kings Managment, Welcome to JFK, premiered at No. 2 on Billboard.com‘s Top R&B/Hip-Hop album charts.
Pickens started rapping in high school, under the moniker “Chinx Drugz,” when he met his longtime compatriot Rayquon “Stack Bundles” Elliott. Before long the two became four, adding rappers Bynoe and and Cau2G$, to form the Rockaway Riot Squad.
Pickens was convicted of first-degree robbery in 2005 and was sentenced to four years in prison at the Mid-State Correctional Facility in upstate New York. While serving his sentence, news that Elliot was shot outside his Far Rockaway home made its way upstate.
The loss of his 24-year-old protégé had a deeply profound effect on Pickens. When he was released in 2009, he returned with a newfound determination to make an impact through his music.
“I don’t want to fit in,” Pickens said. “I want people to respect my music. I have the drive to be original and to stay true to who I am as a person and as an artist, and not create a gimmick with my artistry.”
It was then that Pickens teamed up with the Coke Boys, a rap group created by Cocaine City Records CEO and founder French Montana. Since 2009, Pickens has been featured on 14 different mixtapes and has made numerous guest appearances with such famous artists as Jadakiss, Ace Hood, Rick Ross and Diddy, among others.
“Chinx was always the guy in the room that wasn’t playing around,” Sean “Diddy” Combs said in a new hour-long documentary “Long Live Chinx,” which aired Aug. 13 on REVOLT. “He was very upfront with me, he wanted to learn, and he wanted to know about the game.”
To see more from the REVOLT documentary, “Long Live Chinx,” check out the trailer below.
Welcome to JFK, features 12 tracks with guest appearances by Ty Dolla $ign, Jeremih, MeetSims, Lil Durk, Nipsey Hussle, Zack, French Montana and the late Rayquon “Stack Bundles” Elliott.
The first single, “On Your Body” featuring Meet Sims, was released on June 2. Produced by Lee on the Beats and B. Korn, “On Your Body” is an unexpected gem that stands out among the rapper’s usual hardcore repertoire.
“When we came out with ‘On Your Body,’ you can tell the response that we got from it,” MeetSims told Complex.com in a recent interview. “We knew people weren’t expecting that. But it fits so right for him, so it sounded perfect.”
Doug “Biggs” Ellison, Chinx’s manager and executive producer of Welcome to JFK, issued a statement saying that the new album is the rapper’s best work yet.
“He had finally come into his own, musically,” Ellison stated. “We took the raw emotions of an artist on the rise, and created a lane that will absolutely establish Chinx as a pioneer in the game… His work ethic was 2nd to none.”