A fundraiser that started in early April said the rapper, born Ben Chijioke, was “admitted to hospital with medical complications from Covid-19. Shortly after, he was placed in a medically induced coma to be temporarily sedated to help his body receive the proper treatment. “
However, his condition improved and he was removed from intensive care in mid-April. But in a new update posted on her fundraising page, organizer Diane Laidlaw said, “Ty’s condition had improved but last week, while he was in a normal room, he had contracted pneumonia, which worsened his healing and, ultimately, Ty’s body could not fight back … close friends, family and fans are devastated by his death. “
Born in London in 1972, the son of Nigerian immigrants, Ty released his first album Awkward in 2001, showcasing a tangible British approach to the American hip-hop boom-bap style – witty songs like The Tale showed his talent for storytelling and earned him a cult following.
He drew wider attention with 2003’s Upwards, a brighter and more commercial album which was nominated alongside Amy Winehouse and Streets for the Mercury Prize the following year – it was ultimately won by Franz Ferdinand.
He then recorded three other solo albums, the most recent being A Work of Heart in 2018. He was also an oral artist and partner of The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, founded in 2009 by rapper Akala, who tweeted: ” Rest In Power brother. We will miss you big brother. “
In 2019, he formed a British hip-hop supergroup called Kingdem with rappers Blak Twang and Rodney P, who performed acclaimed free style by DJ Charlie Sloth in the Booth series. Sloth called him “a friend, a role model and a true foundation for British rap”; Blak Twang wrote that he was “so numb” after Chijioke’s death.
Over the years, he has also collaborated with De La Soul, Soweto Kinch, Roots Manuva and more.
Ghetts was among the rappers to pay tribute, writing on Instagram: “RIP Ty. These deep, I had a lot of respect for one of the first of the older generation to kiss me and show me love flying high. Snips tweeted, “This man has done a lot for us. A true London legend. TEAR. Roots Manuva wrote, “Rest my brother. You did well. “
Producer Hudson Mohawke said that Ty’s music “had such a big impact on me back then, still sounds fresh today.” Author Nikesh Shukla wrote, “Rest in peace Ty. You were one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. A huge huge loss … devastated. “
Speaking to Channel 4 in 2019, Chijioke explained how, as a young boy, his parents sent him to be raised by a white family in Jaywick, Essex, so that they could focus on work and studies. “When we were children, we didn’t know why we were here, then my parents said: we are leaving now, but you are staying,” he said. “So we didn’t know why we were left here. And I really feel a little abandoned. “
In an interview with PRS for Music in 2018, he described his vision of musical creation and hip-hop. “Our music is considered” non-classical “by the dominant British culture,” he said. “It is considered disposable and vague, and I think we have become comfortable with the name tag and the position. I’m not comfortable with this process, the art form, culture and experience being relegated to minor importance, just because it’s not classical music. It takes a lot of thinking and self-analysis to make music, not to mention hip-hop music, and I wanted to improve the perception a bit. “