Robert Ross, the rap artist known as Black Rob, the former Bad Boy Records signee best known for his 2000 song “Whoa!,” passed away April 17 at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, The New York Times reports. The cause of death was cardiac arrest, as Black Rob’s friend Mark Curry told The Times. He added that Black Rob was dealing with a number of health issues prior to his death, including lupus, kidney failure, diabetes, and multiple strokes. Black Rob was 52 years old.
We had just reported on the state of Black Rob‘s health after a recently shared video on social media popped up that had fans inquiring about his well-being. The video was of Black Rob in a hospital bed, visibly tired and sickly while 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. His longtime friend and fellow Bad Boy rapper, Mark Curry, was the first one to share the news about his death.
“I don’t know where to begin this, but I thank everybody for the donations. Rob passed away about an hour ago,” a teary-eyed Curry said in a video. “I need for his daughter, Iona Ross, little Robert Ross, y’all get in touch with me, please.”
In a second clip, Curry added that he had spoken to Bad Boy founder Combs for the first time in 15 years following Rob’s passing.
“I just want to say thank you. We really did some amazing stuff. RIP to my brother. I was dead with him, I was dead with him,” Curry said. “I ain’t talk to Puff in 15 years. We talked today. This is the beginning of a new us. 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.”
Rob began rapping when he was a child and formed his first group the Schizophrenics, when he was in his early twenties. He underwent a brief jail stint in the late ’80s before linking up with Bad Boy Records the following decade. His star quickly rose as he contributed verses to a number of the label’s other artists and finally got his own shine in 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 Black Rob 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, although 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.
Black Rob suffered a stroke prior to the release of his fourth and final album Genuine Article in 2015.
It’s important to note that although Black Rob’s official cause of death was heart failure, issues with the heart are tied to