Founding 2 Live Crew member Fresh Kid Ice has died at the age of 53.
The group’s longtime manager, DJ Debo, confirmed the news to multiple outlets on Thursday (July 13), revealing that the pioneering Asian rapper suffered from an undisclosed medical condition. Ice, whose real name was Chris Wong Won, had previously suffered two strokes, one in 2008 and the other in 2010.
2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell reacted to the news on Twitter, writing, “My condolence goes out to the family.” He added, “We lost a legend.”
Won, who was of both Trinidadian and Chinese descent, is credited as the first prominent Asian rapper. He formed 2 Live Crew, the influential Miami hip-hop act, in the early ‘80s. Famously, the group’s 1989 album As Nasty As They Wanna Be became the first album to be declared legally obscene by a court. It was subsequently banned in Florida, though the ruling was later overturned.
The group disbanded after their 1998 album, The Real One, but Won continued to release music as a solo artist. He founded his own label, Chinaman Records, in 2004, and is credited with discovering Flo Rida. He released a tell-all autobiography, My Rise 2 Fame, in 2015.
See more social media tributes to Won — from Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, and others — below.