Zion I founder Steve “Baba Zumbi” Gaines dies aged 49

Steve “Baba Zumbi” Gaines, California rapper and founder of the hip-hop group Zion I, has died aged 49.

According to a statement from Gaines’ family, he passed away Friday morning (August 13th) at Alta Bates Hospital in San Fransisco, California.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the death is being investigated by Police Department homicide detectives in the city.

In a further statement to the Chronicle, the rapper’s family said: “We are in a deep state of grief and processing this loss. We are awaiting further details from the hospital at this time so we can understand exactly what happened and determine our next steps.”

The report states that Berkeley police chief Melanie Turner said police responded to calls at 5am on Friday (August 13) from patients and staff at the hospital “about a patient involved in a physical altercation with nurses and hospital security officers”.

She added that, when police arrived, “officers started handcuffing the involved person and determined that he needed immediate medical assistance,” but “unfortunately and sadly he was pronounced deceased on the scene.”

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Leading the tributes to Gaines online following the news of his death was Zion I co-founder Amp Live, who wrote: “I have no way of really letting you know the sadness that I am feeling right now.”

“We built something special together,” he added. “Zion I was organic and was real with no barriers. We built this group from ground zero. Built something up that enabled us to travel the world, many times. My heart right now is just shattered.  I would not be who I am today without my brother.

“Steve was an excellent father, out of this world vocalist, and the most sincere, real, loving friend anyone could have. He was something special. Please send prayers to his family, children, and loved ones.”