Robert Ross, the rap artist known as Black Rob, died yesterday (April 17) at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, The New York Times reports. The cause of death was cardiac arrest, as Ross’ friend Mark Curry told the Times. He added that Ross was dealing with a number of health issues prior to his death, including lupus, kidney failure, diabetes, and multiple strokes. Ross was 52 years old.
The former Bad Boy signee best known for his 2000 song “Whoa” recently shared a video shot during a hospital stay, in which he paid tribute to the late DMX. At the time of his death, a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his medical expenses had yet to reach its goal.
Ross began rapping when he was a child and formed his first group the Schizophrenics, when he was in his early 20s. He underwent a brief jail stint in the late ’80s before falling in with Bad Boy Records the following decade. Though his star rose as he contributed verses to a number of the label’s other artists in the ’90s, Ross wouldn’t get his time in the spotlight until 2000, when his debut Life Story was finally released.
Life Story and its hit single “Whoa!” would help resuscitate Bad Boy for a brief period, and Ross would later appear on the hit P. Diddy single “Bad Boys for Life” in 2001. Life Story hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and would go on to be certified platinum, though subsequent Black Rob releases would fail to chart as highly. He later signed to Duck Down for his third album Game Tested, Streets Approved in 2011.
Ross suffered a stroke prior to the release of his fourth and final album Genuine Article in 2015.