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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

By Peter Nickeas, Jeremy Gorner and Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — A Chicago rapper who was related to Chief Keef was gunned down near where he grew up as two gunmen fired more than two dozen shots, striking the victim as many as 10 times and wounding a relative.

Mario Hess, once known as Blood Money, had recently been paid $50,000 to sign with a major record label, according to his manager.

Chicago police were investigating if rap feuds played a role in the slaying of Hess, a second cousin to rapper Chief Keef. But no motive had been established for the Wednesday night shooting in a pocket of the crime-ridden neighborhood that hadn’t seen much violence of late.

The shooting marked the second in two weeks with a connection to Chief Keef, the 18-year-old rapper with reputed ties to Chicago street gangs. Chief Keef, whose real name is Keith Cozart, was in the Northfield, Ill., residence of his manager on March 26 when a man was shot and seriously wounded.

Hess was a relatively minor but longstanding figure in the local rap scene that has seen its share of artists — including Lil Reese, Young Chop and King Louie in addition to Chief Keef — signed to record label deals in recent years.

This past year, Hess rapped in Chief Keef’s song, “F— Rehab.” He was considered the elder statesman on Keef’s local imprint, Glory Boyz Entertainment, and had released several mix tapes of hard-core street rap that won a following on the local “drill” scene. Hess’ mix tape, “Drug Wars,” for Glory Boyz, was released in 2013 before his recent signing to Interscope Records, the same label that had signed Chief Keef two years ago.

Interscope confirmed the recent signing but had no further comment.

Hess, 30, a father of five, went by the rap name of Big Glo at the time of his death but had been known as Blood Money before that.

Hess’ manager, Renaldo Reuben Hess, who identified himself as a first cousin to the rapper, said he had been trying to remove Hess from the dangers of Englewood and inner city life.

“It’s a lot of crime and violence in Chicago. These rap guys are being targeted, so you know, just trying to get him outside the neighborhood. He’s from the streets,” Hess said Thursday.

“He was basically trying to just get his rap career together because that’s a good opportunity,” he said. “They gave him some money upfront. It was a good chance for him to get himself out of the hood.”