Controversial Rapper Dead at 58

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Mark Ross, better known as Brother Marquis, a key member of the Miami-based hip-hop group 2 Live Crew, has passed away at the age of 58.

His death was announced on the group’s Instagram account on Monday, June 3, and confirmed by their longtime manager, DJ Debo. As of now, the cause of death remains undisclosed.

Ross was born on April 4, 1966, in Rochester, New York and moved to Los Angeles, California with his family during his teen years. He first interacted with the burgeoning rap scene in Los Angeles. In 1986, at the age of 19, Ross joined 2 Live Crew, a group that was initially formed in Riverside, California. This marked a pivotal period for Ross as the group moved to Miami, Florida, and rose to prominence.

2 Live Crew, which included Luther Campbell (Luke Skyywalker), Christopher Wong Won (Fresh Kid Ice), David Hobbs (Mr. Mixx), and Ross, earned a reputation for their sexually explicit lyrics and energetic performances. Their debut album in 1986, “The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are,” featuring songs such as “We Want Some P__y” and “Throw the ‘D’,” catapulted them to national fame. Despite frequent legal troubles over obscenity charges, they remained important figures in the hip-hop community and trailblazers of the genre’s explicit content.

Leading significant censorship battles, Ross and his bandmates fought for free speech, resulting in landmark legal precedents favoring artistic expression. “I’m grateful and honored to be a pioneer in terms of explicit lyrics, First Amendment rights, fighting censorship, and the inclusion of naked women on stage,” Ross stated in an interview with the Miami Times, encapsulating the rebellious spirit that defined his career.

Despite their controversial beginnings, the late 1980s and early ’90s saw 2 Live Crew release a series of successful albums. “Move Somethin'” and “As Nasty as They Wanna Be” achieved gold and platinum status, respectively. These successes not only demonstrated their capacity to provoke but also their participation in broader cultural discussions about expression and censorship.

After 2 Live Crew disbanded in 1992, Ross ventured into stand-up comedy and formed the rap duo 2 Nasty with DJ Toomp. He also guest-starred on Ice-T’s track “99 Problems” in 1993, which was later famously sampled by Jay-Z. In subsequent decades, Ross continued to take part in 2 Live Crew reunions and tours.

The global music industry and fans have been expressing their condolences and respect. Luther Campbell, a prominent member of 2 Live Crew, reflected on their shared experiences: “We faced many challenges together for the culture and created unforgettable music. Recently, we reunited to reclaim our catalog that was taken from us. We will continue this battle in his honor,” said Campbell.

Brother Marquis’s impact as a pioneer in the hip-hop industry and as a defender of free speech will continue to resonate with future generations. His artistic contributions extended beyond mere entertainment; they challenged and broadened the scope of artistic expression.

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