Hempstead-raised Rapper Grand Daddy I.U. Dies at Age 54

grand daddy i.u.
2016 Juice Crew Reunion (BB Kings NYC)
Photo courtesy Flick user Fuseboxradio via Wikimedia Commons

Rapper Grand Daddy I.U., who was born in Queens and raised in Hempstead, died on Tuesday, according to reports. He was 54.

The Long Island hip-hop artist was famous for his debut album Smooth Assassin, which was released on the late Biz Markie’s record label Cold Chillin’ Records in 1989. He became known for hits such as “Something New” and “Sugar Free,” which hit Nos. 11 and 9 on the Billboard Rap charts, respectively.

Hip-hop stars and fans from Long Island and beyond paid tribute to Grand Daddy I.U. after news broke of his passing, including LL Cool J.

“Rest in power King. HipHop was in your DNA.,” LL Cool J wrote in an Instagram post. “Thank You for your contribution.”

Rapper Method Man called Grand Daddy I.U. a “Long Island legend.” The two had worked on music together in 2020.

Grand Daddy I.U. was born Ayub Bey and became popular in the ‘80s rapping alongside his brother Kay Cee. He is popular as being part of the rap group Juice Crew during the ‘80s.

After gaining fame through Biz Markie, a Long Island rapper who died last year, Grand Daddy I.U. went on to make albums on other labels: Lead Pipe in 1994, Stick to the Script  in 2007, and P.I.M.P. (Paper Is My Priority) in 2015.

Throughout his career, he appeared as a guest M.C. for many other famous hip-hop acts, notably contributing for The Notorious B.I.G. and Ice-T.

Grand Daddy I.U.’s most recent release was a single, “Stay Fly,” in 2021.