Family and friends mourn Iyayi Amayo, the slain rapper known as Iyayi Da Cali Kid
Victor Pulido can still hear the voice of his older brother, Iyayi Orhue Amayo.
Pulido is mixing his brother’s posthumous rap album, “L805” — an homage to the San Luis Obispo area code and Los Angeles. He says it’s the highest form of respect he can pay to Amayo, who was stabbed to death.
On Nov. 9, Amayo, a local rapper known as Iyayi Da Cali Kid, was stabbed in the early morning hours near West 42nd Street and Walton Avenue in Vermont Square.
Detectives think Amayo, 34, was involved in a dispute with other people before he was killed. They are focusing on several people but are looking for additional witnesses, said Los Angeles Police Det. Chris Barling. Two people were arrested in connection with the case but were released because of a lack of evidence, Barling said.
Investigators don’t think Amayo’s stabbing was related to his music.
For family and friends, Amayo lives on through his music and memories of his onstage charisma onstage.
Amayo’s mother, Kim Maxwell-Harris, remembers her son rapping as a child. Once, when she asked how he started, Amayo told her, “I don’t know, I just know how to do it,” she said.
When Amayo was 13, his favorite rapper, Tupac Shakur, was killed in Las Vegas. Amayo would not accept Tupac was dead for a year, Maxwell-Harris said.
Amayo loved Tupac because both of them were “philosophical thinkers,” said Daniel Atwater, a childhood friend. Amayo wrote a song using alliterations, similar to Tupac’s “If I Die 2Nite,” Atwater said.
The two lived across from each other on Oceanaire Drive in San Luis Obispo during middle school. The teenage Amayo shined during rap battles at parties, Atwater said.
Atwater said Amayo never carried himself with a sense of arrogance or ego. “Iyayi was just as supportive of his friends as they were of him,” he said.
Pulido remembers his brother’s first performances as a student at San Luis Obispo High School.
“When he did his first show, he brought me on the stage with him,” said Pulido, who was seven years younger than this brother.
After graduating, Amayo joined the group Danjarus Syndicate, before embarking on a solo career. He recorded numerous mix tapes before his debut album, “The Renaissance,” was released in January 2005.
In 2006, Amayo formed the group Public Defendaz with Andre Baker, Micheal Childress, Jerime Ford and Cassidy Wright.
The group shared the stage with numerous artists like Kendrick Lamar, DMX, 2 Chainz and more. His groupmates recalled Amayo’s passion.
“If they came to the coast, we were rocking their shows,” Baker said.
On stage, Amayo’s energy was “explosive,” Baker said. Amayo was always moving and interacting with fans. “There was not a stale moment,” Baker said.
Studio sessions would last until dawn, Wright said. Amayo was like “a jazz artist, he’d just start vibing out” to whatever ideas or instrumentals were thrown out. He was “very open minded” and had an infectious happiness about him, Wright said.
Lyrically, Amayo “delivered a fly message that connected with the people,” Wright said.
“Never lazy like a Bundy, bounce back like a bungee/Talk game, I’m Van Gundy/P.D., keep on hustlin’/Confident we gon’ make it someway,” Amayo raps on the group’s song, “We The People.”
If Amayo had a problem with getting DJ equipment to a concert, Oris Martin III would deliver for his friend of 20 years.
“When you're a little bit older than everybody, you look out for them,” said Martin, 40, nicknamed “Uncle” by Amayo.
A fellow rapper, Martin performed often with Amayo at concerts across the state.
“I’m going to miss him,” Martin said. “I just hope they find the person who left him out in the world so cold.”
On Oct. 30, more than a week before Amayo was killed, Maxwell-Harris said, she had an ominous dream: There were three strange men in a room with one man telling the others to leave.
On Nov. 8, Maxwell-Harris’ chest started hurting. She thought back to the dream and texted a loving message to sons Pulido and to Amayo. The next day, Amayo was killed.
"Why didn’t I call him?” Maxwell-Harris asked.
Since Amayo's death, Maxwell-Harris said her Facebook page has been “blowing up with stories” that people are remembering about her son.
Others told their stories of Amayo at a Dec. 3 celebration of his life. More than 200 people attended the event, Maxwell-Harris said.
“Being with Iyayi was like being with a movie star,” she said.
As Pulido works on his brother's final music, he keeps Amayo's lyrics in mind: Respect is the highest currency, not a dollar.
Photo, above: Iyayi Orhue Amayo, right, stands with his brother, Victor Pulido, in an undated photo. Credit: Amayo family