Fresh Kid Ice, a founding member of the Miami hip hop group 2 Live Crew, has died at 53.
His manager DJ Debo confirmed his Thursday death to USA TODAY but did not provide details as to the cause.
Born Chris Wong Won in 1964, the biracial Fresh Kid Ice was hip hop’s first notable rapper of Asian descent thanks to his Cantonese grandfather, also going by the name “The Chinaman.”
Luther Campbell, now known as Uncle Luke after a legal threat overhis original moniker Luke Skywalker, shared the news of Fresh Kid Ice’s passing on Twitter Thursday morning. “My Condolence goes out to the family Chris Wong Wong Fresh Kid Ice of the 2 Live Crew who just passed away people we lost a legend,” he wrote.
My Condolence goes out to the family Chris Wong Wong Fresh Kid Ice of the 2 Live Crew who just passed away people we lost a legend
— LUTHER R CAMPBELL (@unclelukereal1) July 13, 2017
Christopher Wong Won was born in 1964 as Christopher Wong Won in Port of Spain, Trinidad, before moving to Brooklyn in 1977. He co-founded 2 Live Crew with fellow rappers DJ Mr. Mixx and Amazing V in 1984, joining forces with Campbell and moving to Miami shortly after.
Beyond their status as a seminal Miami hip-hop group, 2 Live Crew were known for their sexually charged releases, famously going to court for their 1989 album As Nasty As They Wanna Be. In 1990, a federal court declared it history’s first legally obscene album, made it illegal for retailers in the southern Florida area to sell the album, a ruling that was overturned two years later.
In 2015, Fresh Kid Ice released his memoir”My Rise 2 Fame”: The Tell All Autobiography of a Hip Hop Legend. In an interview with Vice last year, he described the current state of Asian representation in rap. “The Asians were there in the beginning of hip-hop — but as DJs,” he said. “We’ve been in the background and stayed behind the scenes, but we learn from our mistakes. A lot of people see us as being passive, but sometimes being passive means that you’re learning. Right now, I see us right there with everyone else. (An Asian rapper) has to just come along and do it big.”