As confirmed by Variety, rapper Black Rob—a.k.a. Robert Ross, a former member of Sean Combs’ Bad Boy label—has died. A specific cause of death has not been given, but his friend DJ Self had recently posted on Instagram that his kidneys were failing. A GoFundMe page was set up to cover Black Rob’s medical bills shortly before his death, and though donations have rolled in since yesterday, there don’t appear to have been any updates about where the money will be going now. He was 51.
Black Rob was born in New York in 1969 and started rapping at a young age, but he didn’t make much of a professional musical impact until he started working with Bad Boy-associated artists in the ‘90s. He was featured on Mase’s “24 Hrs. To Live,” a remix of Total’s “What About Us,” and various Puff Daddy and Notorious B.I.G. recordings. He released his debut album Life Story on Bad Boy in 1999, with the album going platinum and resulting in the hit single “Whoa!” a year later. The track made it onto Billboard’s Hot 100, but Black Rob never had another charting single.
His next album, The Black Rob Report, came out in 2005 and didn’t make as much of an impact as his debut, and in 2010 he left Bad Boy and signed to indie label Duck Down Records. He released another full-length album, Game Tested, Streets Approved in 2011, appeared on reality show Come Back Kings in 2013, and released his album (Genuine Article) in 2015. Former Bad Boy member Mark Curry says that he was with Black Rob when he died, and though he says in an Instagram post that he and Combs hadn’t spoken to each other in 15 years, Rob “made sure he know what he had to do before he parted this world to make sure we all alright, and that’s what he did.”