Tame One, the New Jersey rapper best known for his work in the hip-hop trio Artifacts, has died, NJ.com reports. No official cause of death has been provided. Tame One was 52.
Born Rahem Brown in New Jersey, Tame One was drawn to graffiti art from an early age, and became a graffiti writer himself. “As a general person, I’m the quiet type,” he said when asked about his moniker in a 2004 interview. “I sit back in the cut. In my younger days, I was a regular terror but I’ve mellowed out. For the name, I just carried it over from my graffiti days. That was the name I was writing on walls. So, when I started rhyming, I didn’t want people to be, ‘Who are you?’ Everyone was coming out with these astounding names like MC Killer Rapper and all that other nonsense. I had to be me. I had to be myself. I wanted people who knew me on the street, to know me on a record. So they could say, ‘Oh, that’s the Tame-One dude? That’s the dude who has his name everywhere!'”
Tame One co-founded Artifacts with El Da Sensei and DJ Kaos in 1988. The group released their debut album, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, via Atlantic’s Big Beat imprint in 1994. They put out another album, That’s Them, in 1997 before breaking up shortly after. Following their dissolution, Tame One remained a presence in the underground scene and issued his debut LP, 2003’s When Rappers Attack on Eastern Conference Records. He also joined Weathermen, a rap supergroup formed in 2002 by Cage Kennylz and El-P, and featured on a number of tracks on their 2003 mixtape The Conspiracy.
Tame One continued releasing solo albums, EPs, and singles throughout his career. He teamed up with Cage for the 2004 record Waterworld, released under the name Leak Bros, Dusted Dons for the 2006 collaborative LP Slow Suicide Stimulus, and Del the Funky Homosapien for the 2009’s Parallel Uni-Verses.
Paying tribute to the rapper on Instagram, El-P wrote: “I don’t even know what to say. Rest in peace to Tame One. The Artifact, the Weathermen crew member, the leak brother, the legend, and undoubtably the friend and family of many broken hearted people.”