Hip-Hop Legend Grand Daddy I.U. Passes Away At 54

Hip-hop legend Grand Daddy I.U. died in his sleep on Wednesday, Dec. 10, according to revered hip-hop producer Pete Rock. He was 54.

Known for hits like “Sugar Free” and “Something New,” Grandaddy I.U. began his career as a member of the Juice Crew in the 1980s. Biz Markie signed him to Cold Chillin’ Records after Markie heard his demo tape and released his debut album “Smooth Assassin” in 1990.

Born in Queens, New York, and raised in Hempstead, Long Island, Grand Daddy I.U.’s real name was Ayub Bey.

In addition to his lyrical skills, Grand Daddy I.U. was a gifted ghostwriter and producer who penned hits for Markie and Roxanne Shanté. He also worked with M.C.s like Tupac, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Das EFX, Ice-T, Heltah Skeltah, Latto and others.

His sophomore studio album, “Lead Pipe,” was released in 1994 before he and Markie allegedly fell out over publishing credits. He didn’t release his third album, “Stick to the Script,” until over a decade later in 2007.

According to a report by All Hip Hop, Nore ranked I.U. in his top 5 Dead or Alive in 2008. 

“He’s always been one of the top emcees that I’ve loved from that late 80s, early 90s period,” Nore reportedly said. “If you look at Jay-Z’s ‘Reasonable Doubt’ cover, it sort of resembles that I.U.’s [Smooth Assassin] album cover where he had the same outfit on. Grand Daddy I.U. was one of the most lyrical, wordplay-having emcees. Young artists like Murda Mook … they don’t understand a lot of their style was fathered by Grand Daddy I.U.”

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He released his last full-length album, “The Essence,” in 2020 and a final single, “Stay Fly,” in July 2021.

Grand Daddy I.U.’s business manager, Raya, commented on his death in an I.G. story.

“No I am not okay. I’m devastated,” she wrote. “Anyone who really knows me knows how much pure love and respect I had for him and out of respect for him and his family, I’m staying quiet right now. I do not need to post pictures nor stories to profess anything. I pray for a peaceful and easy transition.”

Tributes from other hip-hop icons and fans poured in at news of Grand Daddy I.U.’s death.

“Rest in power King. HipHop was in your DNA,” hip-hop legend and actor LL Cool J wrote in an Instagram post, adding, “Thank You for your contribution.”

“Whaaaaaat?! No way! Long Island Legend … rest in power King,” Method Man commented on LL Cool J’s post. “Waking up to this crazy. RIP ALMIGHTY GDIU!!” added Busta Rhymes.

In addition to saying I.U. died in his sleep, Pete Rock also posted a group photo that included him and I.U. on Twitter. He captioned it, “GRAND DADDY IU YOU WERE A GREAT PERSON AND IM SAD RIGHT NOW.”

“Man this one hurts RIP to coldchillin artist MC @granddaddy_iu rest well bro u will be miss,” DJ Chuck Chillout wrote in an I.G. tribute.

“RIP to Hempstead, Long Island’s own Grand Daddy I.U., signed to Cold Chillin’ in 1989 by his friend and fellow LI legend Biz Markie. Always loved this video. (And I also love how this is ripped straight from a VHS recording of @VideoMusicBox.),” Dee Phunk tweeted.

“Worst news ever. REST IN PEACE to GRAND DADDY I.U. the legendary MC/ Lyricist / Ghost writer / producer. Hempstead, Long Island’s own,” R.A. the Rugged Man tweeted accentuated by a broken heart emoji.

“Rest In Peace @GrandDaddyIU,” Twitter user @PFCUTTIN tweeted. “Thank you for all you’ve done for HipHop, you will be missed.”

“Hempstead is hurting today we truly loss a Legend! My Condolences to the Cave Family and all he touched throughout his time here on earth!” Instagram user _ladyrich0428 wrote.

While Pete Rock said I.U. died peacefully in his sleep, his official cause of death was unknown at the time of this writing.

On his last Instagram post, I.U. promoted being a guest on “Tha T-Money Podcast Joint Featuring Ciara Ross,” where he seemed to be in good spirits.

T-Money paid tribute to I.U. as well.

“I’m devastated! Got the news this morning I can’t believe you are gone!! We were just reconnecting and your future had soo much promise! I am blessed to have been able to have you on my Podcast for what would be your last interview!” T-Money wrote. “I appreciate you soo much my brother for being a friend and always believing in me. You took the train to the city at the last minute to hold me down. I’ll never forget it or forget you!!! Salute My G! Dann this is crazy!”


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