Soca Artiste Ghetto Flex Dies At 51

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – SOCA artiste and enter­tainer Ghetto Flex (Hil­ton Dalzell Jr) has died. He was 51.

Co-founder of Imij and Company Joey Ng Wai confirmed to the Express yesterday that he died of a heart attack at a hospital in St Vincent where he resided for several years.

“He died today (Thursday) right before lunch. Hilton suffered a heart attack; a post-mortem will be done tonight (last night) to get the correct ins and outs of what took place,” Ng Wai said.

Ng Wai described him as his band buddy and best friend.

Ghetto Flex was known for several soca hit songs in the ’90s, inclu­ding “Rock Yuh Body”, “Wine and Bend Over”, and “Sweet Wine”.

He was the front line vocalist for Second Imij from 1989 to 1997 and then the front line vocalist for Imij and Company from 2000 to 2013, Ng Wai said.

“When Hilton came into the band in 1989, we launched in 1989 right before Christmas, we launched in November…and we started working on our album,” he recalled.

“The first song we worked on for 1991 was a song called ‘Golo’, which was Hilton’s song…(and) became one of Hilton’s biggest hits ever. By the time that hit happened, we were touring eight months out of the year all over the world,” Ng Wai recounted.

He said the band toured Canada, Sweden, and “we covered a lot of ground in our runs with the band, first band—Second Imij”.

He added that Ghetto Flex’s other hits inclu­ded “Raise Your Hand if You’re Single”. Ng Wai said he bought the band in 2000 and restarted and rebranded it to Imij and Company. That band included Ghetto Flex, Kees Dieffenthaller and Michelle Xavier.

Ng Wai, who also shared a personal relationship with the artiste, recalled that both he and Ghetto Flex were collectors of toys.

“Whenever we went to a country, the first thing we would find is a Toys “R” Us because we had a wicked toy collection, both of us. Not any type of toys; it had to be certain thing such as Star Wars. So we would literally, quietly get to that store without the rest of the band knowing, so we wouldn’t get pong (made fun of),” Ng Wai said.

He added that as his good friend, they connected on several levels. Ghetto Flex reunited with Imij and Company for Carnival 2023 for a reunion tour on the road.

‘Another creative gone’

Ghetto Flex also collaborated with several popular artistes, inclu­ding Denise Belfon, who collaborated with him for songs such as “Rock Yuh Body” and “Wine and Bend Over”.

She wrote in an In­sta­­gram post: “How do I start? I believe is a book I need to do in dedication to you…yuh transitioned today and I am heart brokennnnnn my friend, my brother, my best friend since we 17 years old.”

She continued: “Ghetto my children are shattered for their ‘uncle Ghetto’ especially yuh girl Bella.”

Artiste Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez) also paid tribute to Ghetto Flex on social media.

“This here is an OG! Rest in peace brother Ghetto Flex. Your effect in music still effects and affects all today and going forward to the younger generations.

“Never hesitated to put me and others on stage to shine and his persona with duo musical partner Char Su, single handedly changed the way soca sounded, the way it was done, the way things could be done, the bigger risks, the no holds barred and held the mark for a very very very long time,” he said.

“Another creative gone” is how Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) president Ainsley King described the passing of Ghetto Flex when contacted by the Express yesterday. He referenced the passing of actor, singer and Naparima Bowl CEO Marlon De Bique on Tuesday.

National Carnival Com­­mission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters only received the news of the artiste’s death when contacted by the Express. He expressed shock and sadness on hearing of Ghetto Flex’s passing, whom he said he knew well.

“I have known him since he was a child; I know his father very well. If that is so, I want to express my condolences to his family. He was a very nice young man,” he said.

Ghetto Flex leaves behind four children and a wife.