Three 6 Mafia rapper Robert "Koopsta Knicca" Phillips died in Memphis Friday morning of complications from a brain aneurysm and stroke he suffered the previous Sunday, confirmed by fellow group member and producer DJ Paul.
Knicca had been on life support for less than a week while doctors advised that he was "in need of a miracle." Knicca's management team had created a GoFundMe account to raise money for medical costs in the event that he did wake up. The original member of the Oscar-winning rap group was 40 years old.
"Dr. Confirmed With Me That @koopstaknicca36 Passed This Morning at 12:55am. You Will Be Missed My Brother!!! Love U Koop!!! #ripkoopstaknicca," Paul commemorated on his Instagram account.
Paul elaborated on the death of his colleague in a statement. "My group member and brother for over 20 years," he said of his longtime friend. He "went in peace…Everyone who knew Koop knew he was very funny and the coolest guy ever. He will be missed. We made classics together that'll live on."
Along with fellow members DJ Paul, Lord Infamous, Juicy J, Crunchy Black and Gangsta Boo, Knicca starred on the group's first album in 1995 and stayed until he launched his own solo career in 1999 with his debut album Da Devil's Playground: Underground Tape.
After leaving the group in 2000 because of personal legal troubles that took him away from his rap obligations, Knicca went on to pursue a solo career, releasing additional albums and mix tapes. He later rejoined his fellow group members Crunchy Black and DJ Paul to form Da Mafia 6ix with their first album released in 2013.
Knicca had plans to create a follow-up album to his solo debut right around the time of his death.
"Me and Koop had just started writing his new album 'Devil's Playground 2'… but we didn't get a chance to record yet," said DJ Paul. "We had concerts coming up starting next month too. He also just got a home in Vegas that he was moving to on Tuesday, but never got to even see it in person."
The group has been struck by tragedy once before with the premature death of Ricky "Lord Infamous" Dunigan, who died of a heart attack in December 2013. He was also 40 years old.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Knicca's family and friends during this difficult time.