Robert "Koopsta Knicca" Cooper Phillips, a member of the Memphis hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia, passed away early Friday after suffering a massive stroke. Phillips was 40. Three 6 Mafia co-founder DJ Paul confirmed Knicca's death to the Commercial Appeal, saying in a statement that the rapper "went in peace … Everyone who knew Koop knew he was very funny and the coolest guy ever. He will be missed. We made classics together that'll live on."
DJ Paul added that Knicca was "my group member and brother for over 20 years." Knicca was hospitalized and on life support since last weekend after suffering a stroke. "Doctors have advised that arrangements should be prepared for Koop and that he is in need of a miracle," a GoFundMe page for the rapper alerted fans on Wednesday.
Former Three 6 Mafia member Juicy J wrote on Instagram, "R.I.P koopsta Knicca we made history! You will be missed #mafia4life prayers up for the family." The rapper joined Juicy J, DJ Paul and the late Lord Infamous in Three 6 Mafia in the early Nineties, featuring on all the group's albums from 1994's Smoked Out, Loced Out to 2000's When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1. In 2000, Knicca left the group both to pursue a solo career and due to legal troubles, as the rapper was arrested on charges of domestic violence, assault and aggravated burglary.
While no longer a fulltime member of Three 6 Mafia, Knicca continued to contribute verses to the group's post-2000 albums. Knicca was also a member of Three 6 Mafia offshoots Da Mafia Six and the Killjoy Club, the latter a 2014 collaboration with Insane Clown Posse. At the time of his death, Knicca was working with DJ Paul on a sequel to Knicca's 1994 solo debut Da Devil's Playground.
"Me and Koop had just started writing his new album Devil's Playground 2 … but we didn’t get a chance to record yet,” DJ Paul told the Commercial Appeal. "We had concerts coming up starting next month too. He also just got a home in Vegas that he was moving to on Tuesday, but never got to even see it in person."
Knicca is the second Three 6 Mafia member to die prematurely in recent years: In December 2013, Knicca's friend and collaborator Ricky "Lord Infamous" Dunigan died in his sleep from a heart attack at age 40.