Robert Ross, the rapper referred to as Black Rob, whose husky, seen-it-all voice powered turn-of-the-millennium hits like “Whoa!” and “Can I Stay” for Unhealthy Boy Data, died on Saturday at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He was 52.
The trigger was cardiac arrest, mentioned Mark Curry, a pal and one-time Unhealthy 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 mentioned. In a video that was posted on-line and unfold throughout the hip-hop world, Mr. Ross detailed his illnesses and up to date struggles with homelessness.
“He didn’t have a house, however he all the time had us,” mentioned Mr. Curry, who referred to as Mr. Ross “a real poet.” He added: “He’s recognized for telling tales and his music described his life. You possibly can really feel it.”
Final week, Mr. Curry, together with the producer Mike Zombie, started selling a GoFundMe marketing campaign to boost cash for Mr. Ross — “to assist him discover a house, pay for medical assist and stability throughout these making an attempt occasions,” the marketing campaign’s description mentioned. 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. Recent, 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 obtained a little bit taste, I might dance to this’ — you’re gonna speak about a little bit bit of cash, a little bit bit of medicine,” Mr. Ross mentioned in a 2013 interview. “We had been the flashiest.”
Finest recognized for the hard-hitting 2000 single “Whoa!”, which reached No. 43 on the Billboard Sizzling 100, and a string of electrical visitor verses on songs by Mase, 112 and Complete, Mr. Ross might sound each motivated and weathered whilst a younger man.
Thrust into extra of a number one function after the homicide of his Unhealthy Boy label mate, the Infamous B.I.G., in March 1997, the rapper grew to become one other fast-burning star underneath the imprimatur of the budding hip-hop mogul Sean Combs, higher referred to as Diddy, by the tip of the Nineties.
Mr. Ross’s debut album, the fittingly named “Life Story,” was launched by Unhealthy 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 mentioned on the time of his previous. “As soon as they get their tooth on you, they hold biting, till they really feel like, ‘Let’s throw away the important thing 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. 3 on the Billboard album chart, ultimately changing into platinum.
5 years later, “The Black Rob Report,” the rapper’s second album, failed to seek out the identical success, partly as a result of Mr. Ross was again in jail, having didn’t report back to sentencing for a 2004 larceny cost. His profession by no means recovered.
“Unhealthy Boy left me for useless,” Mr. Ross mentioned upon his launch from jail in 2010. Two subsequent unbiased releases on completely different labels foundered.
Mr. Ross is survived by his mom, Cynthia; 4 siblings; 9 youngsters; 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 Kinds P.
On Twitter, L.L. Cool J described Mr. Ross as a storyteller, gentleman and an M.C.
Ms. Elliott lamented that the dying of Mr. Ross intently adopted that of one other New York rapper, Earl Simmons, referred to as DMX, who died this month.
“It’s onerous discovering the phrases to say when somebody passes away,” Ms. Elliott mentioned on Twitter. “I’m Praying for each of their households for therapeutic.”