The rapper who was shot to death in downtown Toronto styled himself as a “street dream” and was known for his signature gold pendant of an Uzi submachine gun.
Music promoter Fred E Fame featured Murda Marz, whose name is Shmar Parris, in his baseball-style promotional trading cards of rap and hip hop musicians in 2011.
The card, which shows Mr. Parris wearing his gold necklace and dental grills, highlights “Marz’ signature gritty street vibe coupled with a Carpe Diem mentality” and includes a quotation from the rapper: “Never worry about falling off,” he says, “a setback is only a setup for a comeback!”
“The whole thing is ironic,” Mr. Fame, who declined to provide his real name, said in an interview. “His name is Murda Marz and he just got murdered.”
Police say “brazen” gunfire erupted on the edge of Ryerson University’s campus at about 2:20 a.m. on Friday and continued for a kilometre on city streets as Mr. Parris’s car was chased by a light-coloured SUV before crashing into a pole. Mr. Parris, 25, was found slumped in the car with several bullet wounds. His two passengers, a young woman and man, received non-life-threatening injuries.
Investigators have no suspects, but say Mr. Parris, who came to Toronto from the North Preston area near Halifax, was known to police and lived a high-risk, criminal lifestyle.
“This attack, I’ll call it, was not random. It certainly was targeted in my view,” Detective Sergeant Steve Ryan told reporters.
A court search indicates that Mr. Parris may have faced a firearms charge in the past, but court staff said they could not immediately release the records.
Asked about Mr. Parris’s lifestyle, Mr. Fame said he knew him only professionally. “I don’t know why anyone would want him dead,” he said.
Friends planned a candlelight vigil for Mr. Parris in the area where he died on Friday night. Mr. Fame also organized a tribute event at a club on Friday.
“Everyone’s crushed,” he said. “He was a very humble guy. When you met Murda Marz, you felt that he had respect for you, even if he didn’t know you. That’s the kind of person we’re talking about here. He wasn’t too big for people. He was larger than life, but he showed you respect and that’s very hard to find in this industry when you get to a certain level.”
Mr. Parris was well-known in Toronto’s rap scene and had worked with JRDN, the R&B recording artist named Ralph Jordon Croucher, who recently won a Juno. Two months ago, the pair got a grant to produce a music video from MuchFACT, an industry-financed fund. JRDN tweeted an “RIP” message to Mr. Parris’s Twitter handle on Friday. His publicist said he was not available for an interview.
Mr. Parris was a well-liked patron of the city’s strip clubs and treated exotic dancers well, Mr. Fame said. “They all knew Murda Marz,” he said. “They liked him. They respected him and he showed them respect as well.”
The rapper even made a song called Strip Club Music. “Up to murder / To give from a street theme / M-A-R-Z / I am a street dream,” he sings in the video, wearing his signature pendant, with the CN Tower in the background.
Asked what “street dream” refers to, Mr. Fame said: “Street dream is someone who lives fast.”
Mr. Parris, who had a brief LinkedIn profile, was proud of his roots in North Preston, according to friends and family who expressed their grief through social media on Friday. He also had ties to Toronto’s Regent Park community.
As well, the rapper was involved in video production and promotional efforts along with mentoring young artists, Mr. Fame said.
With a report from Allie Coulman