Grand Daddy I.U. attends Mr. Magic's wake at Chamber Funeral...

Grand Daddy I.U. attends Mr. Magic's wake at Chamber Funeral Home in 2009 in Brooklyn. Credit: Getty Images /Johnny Nunez

Grand Daddy I.U., the Hempstead rapper who contributed to Long Island’s thriving hip-hop scene during the early 1990s, has died, according to reports. He was 54.

The news circulated on social media earlier this week among the hip-hop community. LL Cool J posted a photo of the rapper with the words, “Rest in power King. HipHop was in your DNA." Record producer Pete Rock and DJ Chuck Chillout also posted tributes. BET, TMZ and reported Grand Daddy I.U.’s death Tuesday, though no cause has been made known.

Born Ayub Bey in Queens, Grand Daddy I.U. rode Long Island's hip-hop wave during the music’s so-called golden age — roughly the late 1980s to the mid-1990s — when such local acts as Public Enemy, De La Soul, EPMD and Biz Markie were becoming national hit makers. It was the fun-loving rapper Markie who obtained Bey’s demo tape and helped him secure a deal with Cold Chillin’ Records. Markie produced Grand Daddy I.U.’s 1990 debut, “Smooth Assassin,” which yielded the singles “Sugar Free” and “Something New.” The latter was accompanied by a video that featured the rapper crashing a talent show.

The album put Grand Daddy I.U. in the company of the Juice Crew, an unofficial hip-hop collective whose members came largely from the Cold Chillin’ Label. A publishing dispute, however, led to his falling out with Markie. Grand Daddy I.U. would serve as his own producer — alongside his brother, Kay Cee — on the 1994 follow-up album “Lead Pipe.” The album was not a commercial success, and Grand Daddy I.U. wouldn’t release another for more than a decade.

Nevertheless, the rapper continued to make his presence felt in hip-hop. According to, Grand Daddy I.U. made guest appearances on tracks with The Notorious B.I.G. and Positive K, among others, and earned a number of producing credits by contributing beats to KRS-One, Ice-T and many more.

He released the album “Stick to the Script” in 2007 and another in 2015, “P.I.M.P. (Paper Is My Priority)." Most recently he had been conducting interviews with other hip-hop artists in videos that were promoted on his Facebook page.

Though never a household name, Grand Daddy I.U. earned the respect of his peers and of his followers. Pete Rock in 2011 called him “the most slept on MC, great lyricist.” N.O.R.E., who became famous as half of the duo Capone-N-Noreaga and currently co-hosts the popular podcast Drink Champs, put Grand Daddy I.U. on his list of top five favorite rappers, according to

“Grand Daddy I.U. was one of the most lyrical, wordplay-having emcees,” N.O.R.E. said. Young artists, he added, “don’t understand a lot of their style was fathered by Grand Daddy I.U.”

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