Black Rob, the former Bad Boy Records rapper best known for his 2000 hit ‘Whoa!’, has died at the age of 51. Rob’s death was confirmed by several of his friends and collaborators, including his former label mate, Mark Curry, who revealed in a video posted on Instagram that he was with the rapper when died.
Though a cause of death has not been confirmed, last week it was reported that the rapper was hospitalized in Atlanta after battling health issues, including kidney failure. A few days later, Curry and producer Mike Zombie started a GoFundMe page to help him “find a home, pay for medical help & stability during these trying times,” raising $29,276 from over 1000 donors. “Oh man, I’ve been dealing with this for five years,” Rob revealed in a video posted by DJ Self last week. “Four strokes… I don’t know what to tell you man. Shit is crazy. The shit is hard. I don’t got no house to live in — except maybe an apartment. Me and my man be trying to get together. I’m telling you man, this shit is strange. It’s hard, you know what I’m saying?”
Born Robert Ross in Buffalo, New York, Rob grew up in East Harlem and started rapping from a young age. He teamed up with Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records as early as 1996, appearing on tracks including Mase’s ’24 Hrs. To Live’, remixes of 112’s ‘Come See Me’, Total’s ‘What About Us’, and Faith Evans’ ‘Love Like This’, as well as albums by Puff Daddy & the Bad Boy Family and The Notorious B.I.G. He found success with his studio debut, 2000’s Life Story, and went on to release three more albums. His hit single ‘Whoa!’ peaked at No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top 10 on both the R&B/Hip-Hop and Rap charts. After leaving Bad Boy in 2010, he put out his last album, Genuine Article, in 2015. The following year, Rob reunited with the crew for a series of performances as part of the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour.
“Puff, I ain’t talked to Puff in 15 years — we talked today,” Curry said in his video. “Rob made sure he knew what he had to do before he parted this world to make sure we all alright, and that’s what he did. Bad boy for life, yo.”