Christopher Wong Won — a.k.a. Fresh Kid Ice — has died at the age of 53. The rapper, who is of both Trinidadian and Chinese descent is credited as the first prominent Asian rapper. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, but raised in Brooklyn, New York, he co-founded the 2 Live Crew, the influential Miami hip-hop act, in the mid-1980s along with DJ Mr. Mixx (born David Hobbs) and Amazing Vee (born Yuri Vielot). Won’s death was confirmed by his manager to multiple outlets.
The news of Won’s death was first reported by fellow 2 Live Crew member Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell on Twitter Thursday morning. “My condolence goes out to the family,” he began the note. Fittingly, he added, “We lost a legend.”
A cause of death has not been made public. The group’s longtime manager DJ Debo told Rolling Stone that it was due to a “medical condition,” though he reportedly did not elaborate. Won had previously suffered two strokes, one in 2008 and one again in 2010.
Famously, 2 Live Crew were the first musical artist to have an album declared legally obscene when their 1989 album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be dropped to outrage. The 1990 ruling in federal court made it illegal for retailers in South Florida to sell the LP until the decree was overruled two years later.
While the group officially disbanded after their 1998 album, The Real One, Won continued to release music as a solo artist; he also founded his own record label in 2004, Chinaman Records. The artist released his memoir, My Rise 2 Fame: The Tell All Autobiography of a Hip Hop Legend in 2015. In January of this year, he released a Chinaman Records compilation, Breaking Glass Ceilings.
See other tributes to Won below.