The hip hop community is mourning the recent passing of rap legend Christopher Wong Won, AKA “Fresh Kid Ice”, the first major Asian rapper in the U.S.
The rapper, who was a founding member of American hip-hop group “2 Live Crew”, died due to an undisclosed medical condition on Thursday in a Miami hospital at age 53, reports TMZ (via Daily Mail).
— Hip Hop Hall of Fame (@HipHopHoF) July 14, 2017
2 Live Crew member Uncle Luke posted a message on Twitter about the star’s death after the news was made public by his manager.
“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
Miami rapper Rick Ross also wrote a tribute on Twitter:
“Dam! Just got call we lost 2 Live crew legend Fresh Kid Ice this morning! RIP.”
Dam! Just got call we lost 2 Live crew legend Fresh Kid Ice this morning! RIP 🙏🏽
— Yung Rénzél 🏇 (@RickRoss) July 13, 2017
Although 2 Live Crew became hugely popular in Miami, Fresh Kid Ice, Mr. Mixx (David Hobbs) and Amazing Vee (Yuri Vielot) actually formed the group in California back in 1984.
They then became a huge hit when they emerged from the Miami hip hop scene as superstars in the 1980s.
During the height of their popularity, 2 Live Crew caused significant controversy with the sexual themes in their productions, particularly on their 1989 album “As Nasty As They Wanna Be,” which became the first album that the U.S. government deemed legally obscene.
Fresh Kid Ice even got arrested alongside Uncle Luke (Luther Campbell) in 1990 after one of their live performances was deemed by authorities as obscene.
In 1992, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th District would overturn the “obscene” label from the album after ruling that it featured significant influences from literary traditions and African-American Culture.
While 2 Live Crew members have come and gone over the years, Fresh Kid Ice was the only member to appear on every album produced by the group.
“The Real One” released in 1998, was the last album produced by the group.
Together with Uncle Luke and Brother Marquis, Fresh Kid Ice staged a 2 Live Crew reunion in 2012 and even released a new single in 2014 titled, “Take It Off.”
Later in his career, he formed his own record label, “Chinaman Records” and also released a memoir in 2015 titled, “My Rise 2 Fame: The Tell All Autobiography of a Hip Hop Legend.”
In an interview with Vice last year, he noted the current state of Asian representation in American rap and hip hop music.
“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.”