The local and hip-hop communities came out to Harlem’s Methodist Baptist Church (151 W. 128th St.) Friday morning to pay homage to one of their native sons, Black Rob (Robert Ross, 52), who died April 17. Reportedly he succumbed to “a cardiac arrest and kidney failure.”
Several hip-hop legends attended, including DJ Red Alert, The Lox & Mase. While it’s not clear whether Bad Boy Records CEO Sean “Diddy” Combs attended the ceremony he financed, his InstaGram account read: “Rest in power King @therealblackrob! As I listen to your records today there’s one thing that they all have in common! You have made millions of people all over the world feel good and dance! You are one of a kind! GOD BLESS!
Legendary MC, Grandmaster Caz moderated the service, opening with, “Black Rob will live in our hearts and minds forever,” before announcing that “Gov. Cuomo signed a proclamation in the name of Black Rob.”
The sons of G-Dep, Rob’s rhyme partner, read their father’s poem: “The life of the party, nicknamed Bacardi, everybody called you Robbie. Gold in the graveyard, yeah you stood out, brought the ’hood out.”
Former Bad Boy president Harve Pierre slowly relayed Combs’ message: “BR was one of my greatest artists. We send our deepest condolences to the family. Rob was a friend. A great communicator. There was never any guessing. A great man.”
Pierre also recalled that Rob’s classic cut “Whoa” was the number one recording in the country.
His manager Johnny explained how “Whoa” came about, initially as slang.
Artist Mark Curry added: “To live in the hearts you leave behind is eternal life. As long as you remember Rob in the right presence he’ll live forever.”
His god-sister, Shavon, acknowledged “Jefferson projects, Wagner projects, his family, friends. When he had nothing and became something, he came back to the community.”
Wagner-native Porta Rock shared: “We talked about everything that no one else talked about. I know the pain. I toured with him all over the world. Jeff Mob, Wagner, the whole East Side. Thank you for showing my man love. This is a real legend, stand up.”
Rob’s friend Pete explained that the wrong folks were being credited “who weren’t even there. Puff got him the best doctors, he got him the best everything. The best hotels, anything he wanted. He been there from zero day.”
He continued, “So shame on y’all if y’all in there talking bad about him. He always helped Rob. Even when we done already—Rob done blew through the money like, ‘Rob, how you went through all this money?’ ‘I don’t know but call Puff.’ Alright? We love y’all.
His first manager thanked the family: “We all grew up together.”
Rob Jr. read the obituary and recited a rhyme about his father, adding, “Me and pop got songs together.”
“I lost my son to COVID last year,” one of his daughters revealed. “No matter the B.S. we’ve been through, I will always love him.”
Another daughter said, “I was there with him every single day. I love you dad.”
His teary-eyed sister Tenia assessed, “A piece of us is gone with our father. Separation should no longer exist with our family. Move forward in love and unity.”
A video montage of personal pictures and videos reflecting his life experiences was played. He was then interred at the Bronx’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
RIP Bacardi Rob!