Black Rob, Rapper Known for His Hit Single ‘Whoa!,’ Dies at 52


Robert Ross, the rapper called Black Rob, whose hoarse, all-seen voice made hits of the millennium like “Whoa!” and “Can I Live” for Bad Boy Records, died Saturday at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He was 52 years old.

The cause was cardiac arrest, said Mark Curry, a friend and one-time bad boy artist, who added that Mr Ross has had numerous health problems in recent years, including diabetes, lupus, kidney failure and multiple strokes.

Mr. Ross had undergone dialysis and was discharged from Piedmont Atlanta Hospital this month, Mr. Curry said. In a video posted online and circulated in the hip-hop world, Mr. Ross described his ailments and recent struggles with homelessness.

“He didn’t have a home, but he always had us,” said Mr. Curry, who called Mr. Ross “a true poet”. He added, “He is known for storytelling and his music described his life. You can feel it. “

Last week, Mr. Curry, along with producer Mike Zombie, began promoting a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Mr. Ross – “to help him find a home, medical care and stability in these troubled times to pay, “it is said in the description of the campaign. The fundraiser raised about half of its $ 50,000 goal.

Mr. Ross, who was born in Harlem, NY, started rapping at around the age of 11, influenced by local artists like Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, whom he was credited with for helping develop his storytelling skills . He also internalized the essence of his musically rising neighborhood and cited the “pick-me-up sound”.

“It’s like, ‘Oh, it has a little taste, I could dance to it” – you’ll be talking about a little money, a little bit of drugs, “said Mr Ross in a 2013 interview.” We were the most noticeable. “

Best known for the hit 2000s single “Whoa!”, Which reached number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100, and a series of electric guest verses on songs by Mase, 112 and Total, Mr. Ross could sound both motivated and weathered as a young man .

After the rapper murdered his bad boy label colleague Notorious BIG in March 1997, he became another fast-burning star in the late 1990s under the impression of budding hip-hop mogul Sean Combs, better known as Diddy.

Mr. Ross’ debut album, appropriately named “Life Story”, was released by Bad Boy in 2000 when he was 31 years old. He had spent more than a decade of his life in and out of juvenile detention, jail and prison. and the music reflected that.

“It’s hell,” said the rapper at the time of his past. “Once they get their teeth on you, they keep biting until they feel, ‘Let’s throw away the key on this cat.'”

Containing intricate street stories of robberies, shootings, and the family struggles that could lead to such things, “Life Story” peaked at number 3 on the Billboard albums chart and eventually went platinum.

Five years later, “The Black Rob Report,” the rapper’s second album, couldn’t achieve the same level of success, partly because Mr. Ross was back in prison and didn’t come forward for the 2004 theft conviction. His career never recovered.

“Bad Boy pronounced me dead,” said Ross after his release from prison in 2010. Two consecutive independent releases on different labels have failed.

Mr. Ross is survived by his mother, Cynthia; four siblings; nine children; and five grandchildren.

Many people on social media have offered condolences to Mr. Ross, including Diddy, entrepreneur Daymond John and rappers Missy Elliott, LL Cool J, GZA and Styles P.

On Twitter, LL Cool J described Mr. Ross as a storyteller, gentleman, and MC

Ms. Elliott lamented that Mr. Ross’s death exactly followed that of another New York rapper, Earl Simmons, known as DMX, who died this month.

“It’s hard to find the right words when someone dies,” Ms. Elliott said on Twitter. “I pray for healing for both families.”



Robert Dunfee