Black Rob, the Harlem-based rapper who helped define the sound of turn-of-the-millennium rap, has died at the age of 51, according to his fellow former Bad Boy collaborator and friend Mark Curry. Curry posted (and later deleted) a heartbreaking video of himself crying and saying, “I don’t know where to begin this, but I thank everybody for the donations. Rob passed away about an hour ago.” On April 10, Love & Hip Hop’s DJ Self Instagrammed a video of Black Rob in a hospital bed, apparently in severe pain, sharing “big love to X” a day after the passing of DMX. On April 11, Self shared that Black Rob, who was born Robert Ross, was out of the hospital, and that his “kidneys are failing again.” He also posted a video of Ross seated upright, explaining that he’s suffered four strokes in the past five years and is suffering immense pain, saying, “I don’t know what the people are going to do, what the people are going to say. I need some rest.” That same day, Curry shared a GoFundMe to help Ross “find a home, pay for medical help & stability during these trying times. We’ve lost a lot [of] legends and we can’t afford to lose anymore.” The page listed 1,000 donors at the time of writing. Curry explained on Instagram that Ross had been undergoing dialysis.
Black Rob joined Diddy’s Bad Boy label in the mid-1990s, and released his platinum-selling debut album, Life Story, in 1999. Black Rob is best known for his 2000 single “Whoa!,” which reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop and Rap charts. In Vulture’s 100 Songs That Define New York Rap omnibus, writer Shamira Ibrahim praised the track for Black Rob’s stream-of-consciousness storytelling, writing about how it “still gets played out of car speakers during Harlem and Bronx summers.”