Gerard "D.O. Cannon" Fields, a rapper tied to Vivendi Universal's beleaguered Murder Inc. label, died Friday after a late-night shooting in the Jamaica district of Queens, N.Y.
Fields was shot near 177th Street and 104th Avenue at 11:45 p.m. Thursday. Two men walked up and opened fire on the 26-year-old rapper, hitting him four times. He died just after midnight.
The shooting marked the second rap-related murder in Queens this week. Late Monday, an alleged associate of Brooklyn rap star 50 Cent, another Universal artist, was gunned down in Queens after a party to commemorate the unveiling of a mural honoring Jam Master Jay, the Run DMC star who was slain last fall.
Fields' killing is the latest blow for Murder Inc., a partner of Island Def Jam, the New York division of French media giant Vivendi Universal.
A federal task force is investigating the finances of Murder Inc. chief Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo and the label's relationship with Kenneth "Preme" McGriff, whose Supreme Team drug gang allegedly dominated the crack cocaine trade in a Queens housing project during the 1980s.
Authorities have accused Lorenzo of helping McGriff use Murder Inc. to launder cash from drug sales. The government also is looking into McGriff's possible involvement in a series of East Coast murders tied to the rap world.
McGriff and Lorenzo deny the allegations.
Lorenzo, a producer who discovered such stars as Ashanti, Jay-Z and Ja Rule, invited Fields last year to appear on a Murder Inc. compilation CD called "Irv Gotti Presents the Remixes." It was released in November, with Fields rapping on two songs, "Hard Livin" and "We Dem Boyz (Let's Ride)."
On Friday, Island Def Jam executives were quick to distance themselves from Fields, insisting that the rapper had never signed an official recording contract with Murder Inc. or Def Jam. Murder Inc. said that Fields was "part of the Murder Inc. family" and in negotiations to sign a contract, but that the deal had never been finalized.
"Murder Inc. is saddened by Gerard's death," said Ron Sweeney, an attorney who represents the label. "We have no idea about the circumstances surrounding his death. It's a senseless murder, and we're certain that the police will do their job in apprehending the killers."
Law enforcement sources dismissed rumors Friday that this week's murders stemmed from a feud between Lorenzo and 50 Cent. The two have been at odds for three years, since 50 Cent recorded a song mocking rappers tied to Lorenzo.
The law enforcement sources said they didn't believe the shootings were connected to the feud. They believe the murders grew out of personal beefs possibly tied to drug deals.
Police have no suspects for either murder.
Rapper tied to Murder Inc. slain
The shooting in Queens, N.Y., is the latest blow for the beleaguered record label.
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