Hip-hop community mourns after killing of Zaher Noureddine, Toronto music journalist
Zaher 'Zack' Noureddine was killed in a Yonge Street robbery early Wednesday morning
Zaher "Zack" Noureddine stares into the camera and says he doesn't want people to put him in any categories.
"I don't want any label," he said in the 2014 YouTube video. "I'm an artist by nature. And I just happen to be a journalist and photojournalist by trade."
Canada's hip-hop community is paying its respects to the 25-year-old Toronto man, who was killed early Wednesday morning in what police there are calling a "brazen robbery."
Noureddine was leaving a Yonge Street bar in the city's midtown area just after midnight on Dec. 30 when the group of people he was with got into an altercation with another group.
He was injured and taken to Toronto's Sunnybrook trauma centre, where died later that day.
'A kind and hardworking guy'
Before moving to Toronto, Noureddine studied journalism at Algonquin College in Ottawa, where he grew up.
In 2012, he began contributing articles and photographs to online magazine HipHopCanada. Noureddine had interviewed high-profile artists like multiple-Grammy nominee Kendrick Lamar for the magazine, and his talent was clear from day one, said editor-in-chief Jesse Plunkett.
"From the beginning, I always thought he was a really kind and hardworking guy. He was very professional. He impressed right off the bat with his writing skills," Plunkett said Thursday.
"I think he really liked being able to tell a story with both pictures and words. It was a passion of his, and I'm glad we were able to give him an outlet."
A statement on HipHopCanada's website described Noureddine as "a hip-hop head to the core" and said his "support for the scene" would not be forgotten.
The magazine also said it was planning a more in-depth tribute to Noureddine in the coming days.
'We just clicked'
Noureddine was a vivid, creative music journalist who was able to convey the intensity of the hip-hop shows he covered, said Nate Gravelle of Ottawa-based CapCityHipHop, another site Noureddine wrote and took photos for.
Gravelle met Noureddine at an Ottawa nightclub in 2012, shortly after the site launched and he needed a photographer for a couple of extra shows.
"He was a young photographer with a vision, with a big dream, with a drive, I'd say, to get out there," Gravelle told CBC News on Thursday. "We just clicked."
Noureddine frequently posted his photography to Instagram, including many photos from hip-hop shows and from Lebanon, where he also briefly worked as a journalist.
"Zack was a kind-hearted guy who loved photography and hip-hop music," said Algonquin College professor Joe Banks on the day he died. "He was a likeable young man whose loss will be felt by his former classmates."
Toronto police continue to investigate the killing, and say they are searching for three suspects who were wearing dark-coloured clothing and who fled the area in a light-coloured four-door sedan.
Noureddine's cause of death has not been released. Family in Ottawa said funeral preparations are underway.