Rapper, who recorded several acclaimed albums, had been put in an induced coma in April
Ty, the acclaimed UK hip-hop star who was nominated for the Mercury prize for his album Upwards, has died aged 47 after contracting coronavirus. His death was confirmed by one of his press team.
A fundraiser that was launched in early April said the rapper, born Ben Chijioke, was “admitted into the hospital with medical complications related to Covid-19. Shortly after, he was put in a medically induced coma to temporarily sedate to help his body receive the appropriate treatment”. His condition improved, however, and he was moved out of intensive care in mid-April.
Born in London in 1972, the son of Nigerian immigrants, Ty released his debut album The Awkward in 2001, showcasing a tangibly British take on the US boom-bap style of hip-hop – witty tracks like The Tale showed off his talent for storytelling and earned him a cult audience.
He broke through to wider attention with 2003’s Upwards, a brighter, more commercial album that was nominated alongside Amy Winehouse and the Streets for the Mercury prize the following year – it was eventually won by Franz Ferdinand.
He went on to record three further solo albums, the most recent being A Work of Heart in 2018.
In 2019 he formed a UK hip-hop supergroup called Kingdem with rappers Blak Twang and Rodney P, who performed an acclaimed freestyle on DJ Charlie Sloth’s Fire in the Booth series. Sloth called him “a friend, a role model and a true foundation to UK rap”; Blak Twang wrote that he was “so numb” following Chijioke’s death.
Over the years he also collaborated with De La Soul, Soweto Kinch, Roots Manuva and more.
Ghetts was among the rappers paying tribute, writing on Instagram: “RIP TY. This ones deep I had a lot of respect for ty one of the first from the older generation to embrace me and show me love fly high ty.” Snips tweeted: “This man did a lot for us. A true London legend. RIP.” Roots Manuva wrote: “Rest my Brother. You did good.”
Producer Hudson Mohawke said Ty’s music “had such a big impact on me at the time, still sounds fresh today”. The author Nikesh Shukla wrote: “Rest in peace Ty. You were one of the nicest people I ever met. Such a huge huge loss … Devastated.”