Robert Ross, the rapper often known as Black Rob, whose husky, seen-it-all voice powered turn-of-the-millennium hits like “Whoa!” and “Can I Live” for Bad Boy Records, died on Saturday at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He was 52.
The trigger was cardiac arrest, stated Mark Curry, a good friend and one-time Bad Boy artist, who added that Mr. Ross had quite a few well being points in recent times, together with diabetes, lupus, kidney failure and a number of strokes.
Mr. Ross had been present process dialysis and was discharged from Piedmont Atlanta Hospital this month, Mr. Curry stated. In a video that was posted online and spread across the hip-hop world, Mr. Ross detailed his ailments and up to date struggles with homelessness.
“He didn’t have a home, but he always had us,” stated Mr. Curry, who known as Mr. Ross “a true poet.” He added: “He’s known for telling stories and his music described his life. You can feel it.”
Last week, Mr. Curry, together with the producer Mike Zombie, started selling a GoFundMe campaign to lift cash for Mr. Ross — “to help him find a home, pay for medical help and stability during these trying times,” the marketing campaign’s description stated. The fund-raiser collected about half of its $50,000 purpose.
Mr. Ross, who was born in Harlem, N.Y., started rapping across the age of 11, influenced by native artists like Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, whom he credited for serving to to develop his storytelling prowess. He additionally internalized the essence of his musically ascendant neighborhood, citing its “pick-me-up kinda sound.”
“It’s like, ‘Oh, it’s got a little flavor, I could dance to this’ — you’re gonna talk about a little bit of money, a little bit of drugs,” Mr. Ross stated in a 2013 interview. “We were the flashiest.”
Best identified for the hard-hitting 2000 single “Whoa!”, which reached No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100, and a string of electrical visitor verses on songs by Mase, 112 and Total, Mr. Ross might sound each motivated and weathered at the same time as a younger man.
Thrust into extra of a number one position after the homicide of his Bad Boy label mate, the Notorious B.I.G., in March 1997, the rapper grew to become one other fast-burning star below the imprimatur of the budding hip-hop mogul Sean Combs, higher often known as Diddy, by the top of the 1990s.
Mr. Ross’s debut album, the fittingly named “Life Story,” was launched by Bad Boy in 2000, when he was 31. Already, he had spent greater than a decade of his life out and in of juvenile detention, jail and jail, and the music mirrored that.
“It’s hell,” the rapper said at the time of his previous. “Once they get their teeth on you, they keep biting, until they feel like, ‘Let’s throw away the key on this cat.’”
“Life Story” featured intricate road tales of stickups, shootouts and the household struggles that might result in such issues, and it reached No. three on the Billboard album chart, finally changing into platinum.
Five years later, “The Black Rob Report,” the rapper’s second album, failed to seek out the identical success, partially as a result of Mr. Ross was back in prison, having didn’t report back to sentencing for a 2004 larceny cost. His profession by no means recovered.
“Bad Boy left me for dead,” Mr. Ross said upon his release from jail in 2010. Two subsequent unbiased releases on completely different labels foundered.
Mr. Ross is survived by his mom, Cynthia; 4 siblings; 9 kids; and 5 grandchildren.
Many individuals on social media supplied condolences for Mr. Ross, together with Diddy, the entrepreneur Daymond John and the rappers Missy Elliott, L.L. Cool J, GZA and Styles P.
On Twitter, L.L. Cool J described Mr. Ross as a storyteller, gentleman and an M.C.
Ms. Elliott lamented that the demise of Mr. Ross carefully adopted that of one other New York rapper, Earl Simmons, known as DMX, who died this month.
“It’s hard finding the words to say when someone passes away,” Ms. Elliott said on Twitter. “I am Praying for both of their families for healing.”