Three 6 Mafia member and rap star Lord Infamous is dead of an apparent heart attack at age 40. The rapper, whose real name was Ricky Dunigan, suffered from health problems before. He had a heart attack and a stroke in 2010.
As a member of the Memphis-based rap group, Dunigan belonged to the first hip-hop group at to win an Oscar for “Best Song.” His group wrote the track, “Hard Out Here For a Pimp,” which won the Academy Award in 2005.
By that time, Three 6 Mafia was already a veteran of the hip hop circuit. With his mother’s younger brother, Paul Beauregard, 36, who goes by the stage name DJ Paul, and rapper Juicy J — real name: Jordan Michael Houston — Dunigan formed Three 6 Mafia in 1991. Adding two members, the group developed its music for four years before releasing its first full-length album, Mystic Stylze.
Dunigan’s death was first reported by Rolling Stone magazine, which quoted Beauregard saying that his nephew and collabortor had not recently been ill.
While a cause of death has not been officially determined, Beauregard told a hip hop publication, quoted in The Chicago Tribune, that Dunigan suffered fatal heart attack while sleeping at a kitchen table.
“He had told his girlfriend that he was sleeping and he wanted to go to sleep,” recounted Beauregard. “His girlfriend left and was like, ‘You going to be fine?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be good.’ And she was like, ‘You sure?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m positive, I just want to get some sleep.’ So he laid his head in his arms at the kitchen table and he went to sleep and then when his momma came home, he was sitting at the kitchen table passed away.”
His uncle remembered Dunigan as a rapper who defied the stereotype of the hip hop star with a flashy, expensive and dangerous lifestyle.
He described Dunigan as, “the kind of person that never cared about having a lot of money or this or that. He just liked to make music, he liked to rap, and he liked to make people happy.”
In 2005, the group’s song “Hard Out Here For A Pimp” formed a central motif in the film, Hustle and Flow, which itself presented a picture of the underground rap scene in Memphis. Its central character, portrayed by actor Terence Howard, is a small-time pimp who tries to break into the rap music business.
A video of the song as seen in clips from the film with Howard in character, is below.