2 Live Crew Rapper Brother Marquis Dies at 58

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Mark D. Ross, best known as the rapper Brother Marquis in 2 Live Crew, has died, according to a social media post by the group and TMZ confirms. “Mark Ross AKA Brother Marquis of the 2 Live crew has went to the upper room,” 2 Live Crew wrote on Instagram. He was 58.

Born Mark D. Ross in April 1966, Brother Marquis grew up in Rochester, New York with his mother before moving to Los Angeles, California as a teenager. While still in Junior High, he crossed paths with rapper Rodney-O and the two started the Caution Crew, releasing a handful of 12″ singles like “Westside Storie” and “Rhythm Rock.”

The late Fresh Kid Ice—who died in 2017—formed 2 Live Crew with DJ Mr. Mixx and Amazing Vee in Riverside, California 1984, but Amazing Vee dipped out shortly afterwards. Miami rapper Luke Skyywalker invited 2 Live Crew to relocate to his Florida city and, when they obliged, he joined their ranks as a hype man and label owner. The group had already recorded a few songs, including “Trow the D,” before DJ Mr. Mixx crossed paths with Brother Marquis at parties. Impressed by his sense of humor, they invited the 19-year-old to join 2 Live Crew in 1986 and help shape the direction of 2 Live Crew Is What We Are, their debut LP. While the Miami bass group courted plenty of controversy with that album and its breakout hit, “We Want Some P**sy,” it was their next string of records—1988’s Move Somethin’, 1989’s As Nasty as They Wanna Be, and 1990’s Banned in the U.S.A.—that propelled their raunchy hip-hop to national fame with songs like “Me So Horny” and “Banned in the U.S.A.”

2 Live Crew were proud to make history with those latter two records: As Nasty as They Wanna Be was the first album to be declared legally obscene (a judgment that was later overturned), and the cheekily titled follow-up Banned in the U.S.A. was the first album to sport the black-and-white “Parental Advisory” sticker from the Recording Industry Association of America. 2 Live Crew got into legal trouble again with a parody cover of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” which appeared on As Nasty as They Wanna Be. It spawned the Supreme Court case Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., which ultimately deemed that a commercial parody falls under the doctrine of fair use.

“I thought it was a bunch of bull,” Marquis told Heat Seekers Magazine when reflecting on the group’s Supreme Court cases. “When Broward County presented all the evidence in court, it was a joke because the audio wasn’t clear and the jury didn’t understand what was being said. A white drunk lady had the recording device in her bosom and the jurors laughed when they heard the recording.”

After dropping a live album and Sports Weekend (As Nasty as They Wanna Be Part II), 2 Live Crew began to split up and Brother Marquis moved to Georgia, where he tried his hand at standup comedy and new music in the duo 2 Nasty. In 1995, he linked up with Fresh Kid Ice and DJ Mr. Mixx to record “Hoochie Mama” for the soundtrack to the film Friday, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The following year, they formally reunited under the 2 Live Crew moniker to release their seventh studio album, Shake a Lil’ Somethin’, in 1996 and, after Mixx’s departure, The Real One in 1998.