Controversial Hip-Hop Star Dies at 58

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Mark Ross, also known by his stage name Brother Marquis, a key member of the controversial Miami-based hip-hop group 2 Live Crew, has passed away at 58.

The death of Brother Marquis was confirmed on the group’s Instagram account on Monday, June 3. The group’s longtime manager, DJ Debo, also confirmed the news. The cause of death is yet to be revealed.

Ross was born on April 4, 1966, in Rochester, New York, and relocated to Los Angeles, California with his family during his teen years. Ross first engaged with the burgeoning rap scene during this time. In 1986, at age 19, he joined 2 Live Crew, originally from Riverside, California. The group later moved to Miami, Florida, marking a significant period in Ross’s career as they gained national fame.

2 Live Crew, composed of Luther Campbell (Luke Skyywalker), Christopher Wong Won (Fresh Kid Ice), David Hobbs (Mr. Mixx), and Ross, gained notoriety for their sexually explicit lyrics and energetic performances. Their national recognition began with their 1986 debut album, “The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are,” featuring controversial tracks like “We Want Some P__y” and “Throw the ‘D’.” Despite legal challenges over obscenity charges, the group continued to be influential.

Ross and his bandmates were instrumental in significant censorship battles, advocating for free speech and contributing to landmark legal precedents in favor of 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 said in a Miami Times interview.

Despite a tumultuous beginning, 2 Live Crew released a series of successful albums in the late 1980s and early ’90s. “Move Somethin'” and “As Nasty as They Wanna Be” achieved gold and platinum status, respectively, highlighting their ability to spark controversy and engage in important cultural discussions about expression and censorship.

After 2 Live Crew disbanded in 1992, Ross ventured into stand-up comedy and formed 2 Nasty, a rap duo with DJ Toomp. He also featured on Ice-T’s track “99 Problems” in 1993, which Jay-Z later sampled. In the ensuing years, Ross continued to participate in 2 Live Crew reunions and tours.

Condolences and tributes have been pouring in from the music industry and fans globally. Luther Campbell, a core member of 2 Live Crew, reflected on their journey: “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,” Campbell stated.

The legacy of Brother Marquis as a trailblazer in the hip-hop industry and a stalwart defender of free speech will continue to resonate with future generations. His artistic contributions extended beyond entertainment, pushing the limits of artistic expression.

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