Ol' Dirty Bastard, a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, collapsed and died Saturday. He was 35 and, sadly, would have turned 36 today.
The exact cause of death is unknown, but the rapper, born Russell Jones, had been complaining of chest pains earlier; an autopsy conducted Sunday was found inconclusive and the results from additional toxicology tests won't be available for five to ten days.
The rapper, who was on the brink of a comeback, was working at a Manhattan recording studio when he collapsed at about 4:30 p.m. Paramedics were called and found the performer in a living room area adjacent to the studio. He was pronounced dead at 5:04 p.m.
"This evening I received a phone call that is every mother's worst dream. My son, Russell Jones, passed away," Jones' mother, Cherry Jones, said in a statement.
"To the public he was known as Ol Dirty Bastard, but to me he was known as Rusty, the kindest most generous soul on earth. I appreciate all of the support and prayers that I have received. Russell was more then a rapper; he was a loving father, brother, uncle and most of all, son."
As word got out, the streets around the studio quickly filled with mourners, including Clan members Ghostface Killah and Raekwon.
"It's a big loss right now. I knew him for 20 years. He was my brother, heart, soul, pride and joy," Ghostface Killah told the people outside the studio. Jones' body was removed about 8:30 p.m.
Just Friday night, Wu-Tang Clan gave their first East Coast concert in five years.
Jones was a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan and his contributions to the group's debut recording helped solidify the group's place in hip-hop history.
The Brooklyn-born rapper offered hip hip a more humorous aspect but still garnered the respect of the rap community.
Jones was featured on Wu-Tang's debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
The rapper was shot after the release of the album.
He eventually released his solo epic Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, an album that yielded the hits "Brooklyn Zoo" and "Shimmy Shimmy Ya."
Jones had several bouts with the law, which eventually landed him in jail in April of 2001. He got out of jail in 2003 and hooked up with Roc-A-Fella Records, but he never released an album.
Dirty Wear was the rapper's clothing line, released soon after he came home from jail.
His funeral will be held on Thursday at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn and Roc-A-Fella Records is planning a public memorial in Harlem. More details to follow.