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Hip-Hop Legend Kangol Kid Dead at 55

©Instagram @yokangol
Hip-hop and branding pioneer Kangol Kid is dead at 55 following a short battle with colon cancer.

A statement released by his family said Kid, who was diagnosed with cancer in February, died peacefully around 3 a.m. Saturday at a hospital in Manhasset, New York.

It was an inauspicious end for the Brooklyn-bred artist, born Shaun Shiller Fequiere, who had been honored by the American Cancer Society in 2012 for his fund-raising efforts. He was co-founder of the Mama Luke Foundation.

The charity for promoting breast cancer awareness was named in honor of Gay Frances Lucas, the
mother of his manager, who passed away from the disease in 2010.

“I watched her deteriorate,” said Kid, who at the time had never had cancer effect someone close to him before, of his reason for starting the foundation. “So, I took on the fight and said alright, there’s no reason anyone else should have to go through what she went through. I reached out to my friends, my hip-hop family … we became the top fundraising team for the American Cancer Society.”

The relationships he called on to fight cancer were built during a groundbreaking career. After starting his career as a B-boy, or breakdancer, at points touring with early rap powerhouses Whodini and Full Force, he took to the mic as one-fourth of the legendary group UTFO.

Formed in Brooklyn and comprised of Kid — whose non-de-plume derived from a neighborhood nickname acquired because of the many Kangol hats he owned — his former breakdancing partner Doctor Ice, the Educated Rapper and D.J. Mix Master Ice, the group, also known as the Untouchable Force Organization, released a string of hits in the 1980s.

Chief among them was the now-iconic "Roxanne, Roxanne.” The 1984 single only reached No. 10 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, but its influence on the genre has been lasting and deep.

Its release spawned imitators, scores of answer-tracks, and was the launching point for the careers of two of hip-hop's early female stars: Roxanne Shante and The Real Roxanne.

UTFO released five albums and continued to innovate, becoming the first rap group to perform at the Apollo Theater in 1985 and collaborating with heavy-metal band Anthrax in 1987.

Following the group's success, Kid wrote a music-industry advice column, first for Black Beat magazine and then for, and continued to write and produce for other artists. His relationship with Kangol hats, who ended up sponsoring him, remained strong his entire life with the company granting him free product. One of his newsboy-style Kangol hats is included in the collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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