The hip hop star, whose real name was Charles Foushee, was found “unconscious and unresponsive” Sunday in his Hollis, Queens home and was pronounced dead by emergency responders, the NYPD said.
The official cause of death is heart disease and high blood pressure, the New York City Medical Examiner’s office confirmed.
Freeze performed at an event at the Essentials 608 nightclub in the Bronx on Saturday evening, the night before his death. His longtime friend, DJ Kevie Kev Rockwell of the Fantastic Five, performed with Freeze that night and says he seemed fine when they parted ways after the event.
“I (would) see him every day. He’s one of my closest friends,” Kevie Kev, whose real name is Kevin Carson, told The News. “I grew up with him. I knew him since I was 15 years old. Before we were legends, before we were pioneers.”
Freeze and the other members of Jazzy Five — Master Ice, A.J. Les, Master Bee and Master Dee — rose to fame in the early 1980s on the strength of their hit, “Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Version),” which they recorded with fellow Bronx artist Afrikaa Bambaataa.
The song, which came out in 1981, featured verses by each of the Jazzy Five members, with Freeze memorably rapping, “I’m Mr. Freeze, and to tell you the truth / that my quality ranks about a hundred proof.”
That song proved to be the only major hit for the Jazzy Five, which regularly performed at parties in New York during its early ’80s heyday before eventually disbanding.
While Freeze continued to create music and perform following his Jazzy Five days, other members followed different pursuits.
One of the earliest members of the group, MC Sundance, was on the ground in Lower Manhattan during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, helping people to safety from one of the Twin Towers. He fell ill months afterward and later developed lymphoma before he died in 2008.
Throughout Freeze’s music days, he served as a mentor to others in the New York hip hop community.
One of the young artists he encouraged was T.O.N.E-z, who told The News he spoke to Freeze nearly every day and praised him for always being inspiring and straightforward with him when discussing his career.
“He was just a solid dude,” said T.O.N.E-z, whose real name is Anthony Keaton. “He was a pioneer.”
Remembering the famous figures we lost in 2018
T.O.N.E-z was one of several friends of Freeze who mourned the rapper’s death on social media. His tweet Tuesday garnered a reply from LL Cool J, who wrote, “Rest in power. Your verse on jazzy sensation was one of my favorites.”
The Bronx-bred T.O.N.E-z described Freeze as being a “very health-conscious” person who didn’t eat meat or smoke and rarely drank. DJ Kevie Kev, meanwhile, also said Freeze took care of himself but had complained recently of shoulder pain and needed surgery.
Another friend of Freeze — a younger rapper named LORD KAOS — called it an “honor” to know Freeze and remembered the hip hop veteran’s willingness to give him tips shortly after they met.
“The influence that he gave me wasn’t the same influence that most have, where they heard him on music,” LORD KAOS said. “It was more of a face-to-face influence where, (he was like), ‘Little brother, this is how you got to go about things.’ I think that inspired me more than just knowing the music. It’s a major loss.”
Kevie Kev says Freeze stood out from other rappers of his era and noted that his music wasn’t violent or vulgar.
“Chuck is a people’s person,” he said. “In hip hop, for some reason, everybody was always battling, trying to cut each other’s throat instead of sticking together. That’s why the pioneers don’t have the money that new hip hop artists have. But Chuck was different. He was like, ‘Everybody can eat. If we share this light, everybody can eat.’ He was always optimistic. Very loving and very caring. Very appreciative of life.”
On – 04 Apr, 2018 By Peter Sblendorio