Aamir Johnson-Daye, better known as the rapper D4M Skiano, was living his musical dreams, touching the lives of thousands across Philadelphia and beyond. On Sunday night, those dreams were cut short in a shooting that left him dead at 18, leaving his friends, family, and rap partners grieving and bewildered.
His death came on a day when the city saw the largest number of shootings since at least 2013. Johnson-Daye was struck in the thighs, back, and wrist around 10:55 p.m. on the 1400 block of North 61st Street and later died of his injuries at Penn Presbyterian Hospital, police said.
Authorities gave no motive for the shooting and no arrests have been made.
Johnson-Daye’s death left his loved ones to grapple with the sudden loss of a young man they described as bright, talented, and full of promise.
“He had this positive energy and he spread his love everywhere,” said Johnson-Daye’s father, Chris Daye, adding that his son had a genuine love for his music and his fans.
Music videos featuring him and his partner, D4M $loan, have between 800,000 and 2.1 million views on YouTube. The duo’s songs have also played on the radio.
Their music traced its roots to a movement they started after the 2015 death of their friend Tamir. In his honor, they created D4M, or Do for Mir, to keep his legacy alive.
Johnson-Daye was just 13 years old at the time, but the music he helped create was popular.
“Their flow was different. You hadn’t heard their flow before, and everybody started copying it,” said Johnson-Daye’s younger brother, Azeem.
An LP Johnson-Daye had been working on, posthumously released in his honor on July 7, garnered 23,000 views on YouTube in just two days.
At Mastery Shoemaker High School, Johnson-Daye was remembered as bright and confident.
“He was a smart kid and he believed in himself and his skill set,” said Raheem Berry, dean of students at the school. “He had his own dream and he dreamed it, and was living it.”
Johnson-Daye eventually transferred to Overbrook High School but did not graduate. His family said he was working on his GED.
Chris McFadden, a former dean of students at Mastery, recalled his fun-loving nature.
“Black men are taught to present themselves in a way where we wear a mean mug to show that we are tough, but that was the total opposite of Aamir,” he said. “... He showed that there was no reason for him to wear a mean mug; he was just full of life and full of love.
“It’s sad that he’s not going to be able to experience the world, and he’s not able to see how many people actually love him, because someone who didn’t love him took him from us,” McFadden added.
After his death, Johnson-Daye’s musical partners, fans, neighbors, and friends took to social media to share their memories.