Founding member of Memphis, Tennessee hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia, Lord Infamous, has died. The 40-year-old rapper was found dead in his mother’s home in Memphis on Friday night US time, with fellow Three 6 Mafia member Gangsta Boo breaking the news via Twitter the next morning.
“Rest in Peace Lord Infamous please respect the family and dear friends during this tragedy (sic),” wrote Gangsta Boo in his tweet. Fellow crew member Juicy J likewise extended condolences to his fallen friend via Twitter, along with a raft of other rappers including Lil Wyte and Bun B.
Lord Infamous, real name Ricky Dunigan, was the half-brother of fellow Three 6 Mafia member DJ Paul, who confirmed the cause of death as a heart attack to The Hollywood Reporter. “He’ll be remembered as a legend, everybody knew him as a legend, an icon,” Paul told the magazine.
“He passed away in his sleep from a heart attack… He said he was tired, he wanted to sleep. He sat down at the kitchen table, put his head in his arms to lay down…to get some sleep,” Paul explained. Paul learned of Dunigan’s death via phone calls from the rapper’s mother and girlfriend.
Dunigan joined Three 6 Mafia at its inception in 1991, going on to score underground hits such as 2000’s Sippin’ on Some Syrup and crossover singles such as 2005’s Stay Fly and It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp from the Hustle & Flow soundtrack, which won an Oscar for Best Original Song.
UPDATE: Dunigan’s half-brother, DJ Paul, has opened up about the rapper’s legacy in a new interview with XXL magazine, describing him as “the nicest dude in the world” and crediting him, along with the rest of the Three 6 Mafia crew, as “one of the creators of crunk.”
“He was one of the creators of crunk and the whole dark sound music with 808s and repetitive hooks that we did. All the drugs and the stuff that we talked about before rappers were even ready to do it… The whole crunk thing–the whole sound of the dirty South…it’s nationwide.”
Speaking about his brother as a person, he says, “He was telling his momma last week that he wanted to get right with everybody that he ever made mad in his life. But he never made anybody mad because everybody loved him… He was the nicest dude in the world.”
“Lately, he was so happy about everything that was going on like the regroup of the crew,” he adds. “That was his idea. He fought for that with me. He was like, ‘We got to do this.’ It was supposed to be just me and him… But he wanted to do the group thing first, with the whole group.”
Asked about a stroke Dunigan suffered in 2010, DJ Paul says, “He seemed like he was all right. He just had to walk with a cane. He got his speech back together; he was getting over the whole cane situation. He started to dance on stage, wildn’ just like usual.”
“It hasn’t hit me yet. It’s real sad. But I’m happy that he went peacefully because he was asleep and he wasn’t hurt, because anyone who knew him, anyone who grew up with him know he escaped death a gazillion times,” Paul told HipHopDX.
Watch: Three 6 Mafia – Stay Fly