Friends remember Markland Campbell as 'giant' of local hip-hop scene

Friends of Markland Campbell, aka Jahiant Jahh, are remembering the Ottawa hip-hop artist as an anti-violence advocate who was a "giant" in both heart and soul.

Campbell, aka Jahiant Jahh, often spoke out against gun violence

Friends of Markland Campbell say it's a sad irony he was killed in a shooting because he campaigned against gun violence. (Facebook )

Friends of Markland Campbell are remembering the Ottawa hip-hop artist as an anti-violence advocate who was a "giant" in both heart and soul.

Campbell, 42, died after being shot around 9:30 p.m. Friday in the ByWard Market. An 18-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in his death.

Campbell went by the stage name Jahiant (pronounced "giant") Jahh as part of the hip-hop trio Half Size Giants.

It was a name that was more of a testament to his presence than his roughly five-foot-three stature, said Darcy Petersen, who knew Campbell for nearly 20 years.

Petersen said his friend was a loving father who adored his six children — and also a personal mentor.

Darcy Petersen has been a friend of Campbell's for decades and says he was always against gun violence. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

"He's a tiny little guy but he always walked like a giant. He was always doing big things and he had a very big voice and he was just, like, loud," said Petersen, who would DJ with Half Size Giants.

"A big giant behind a little body."

Hip-hop artist killed Friday was to appear on new single

2 years ago
This excerpt from a forthcoming single by Ottawa hip-hop trio Half Size Giants features Markland Campbell, aka Jahiant Jahh, performing with R&B artist Danny Fernandes. Campbell, 42, was shot and killed Friday. 0:22

'All about love and peace'

Campbell moved to Canada from Jamaica when he was a child, and although he would go back to visit and also spent time in Toronto, he would always return to Ottawa.

He often showcased both Ottawa landmarks — like Parliament Hill and Sparks Street — as well as lesser known areas of the city in the trio's music videos.

When Campbell worked as a solo artist, some of his music featured reggae influences. He would also describe himself as a reggae artist on social media.

Campbell had also spoken out about the 1994 drive-by killing of Nicholas Battersby, who was shot in the back on Elgin Street in a random attack, Petersen said.

In a statement, Half Size Giants recalled how Campbell — then only 16 — helped organize an anti-violence concert following Battersby's death with the rest of the group.

Petersen said he was still processing the sad irony of Campbell's death: that a man who campaigned publicly against gun violence could be caught up in the middle of it.

"He was all about love and peace," Petersen said.

Had new track coming out

On Sunday night, a few dozen of Campbell's friends, family members and fans gathered at the intersection of ByWard Market Square and York Street — the spot where he collapsed Friday — for a candlelight vigil.

Before his death, Campbell and Half Size Giants had worked with well-known names in the Canadian hip-hop scene, including Maestro Fresh Wes and Snow.

The trio had split up for some time, but reunited within the past two years and had been performing around Ottawa. They were set to release a new track with Canadian R&B artist Danny Fernandes in the next couple of weeks.

Mike Landry, who handles social media for Half Size Giants, said he got to know Campbell a couple of years ago.

He described him as a jovial man who would light up a room.

"He was always in a good mood," Landry said. "He was one of the nicest people I've known."