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Source: Artist

Rapper, Dancer, and Former EPMD Affiliate Stezo Dies at 51

Stezo started his career dancing with EPMD.

Multiple sources are confirming that rapper, dancer, and former EPMD affiliate Stezo passed away Wednesday at the age of 51. His producer and DJ Chris Lowe confirmed the news on Twitter.

"Thanks for the love," he told DJ Stretch Armstrong, "when u can play a Stezo joint for us."

Born Steve Williams in New Haven, Connecticut, Stezo initially appeared in the video for EPMD's "You Gots to Chill" from their Strictly Business album. After leaving the group, Stezo started his solo career. In 1989, he released his debut album Crazy Noise on Sleeping Bag Records. The album peaked at number 37 on Billboard's R&B albums chart. Two singles from the album, "Freak the Funk" and "It's My Turn" reached the Billboard charts.

Williams released two more albums in his solo career.

Stezo's contemporaries shared their condolences on social media. Questlove contextualized Stezo's career on Instagram. "Before Hammer's pants," he wrote, "there was Stezo...Before #AtomicDog fed an ENTIRE GENRE...there was Stezo...I mean for gods sake this man made #SteveMartin cool to a hip hop generation...he turned Steve Martin into the coolest verb EVER in 1988."

Williams was the first artist to sample the beat break from Skull Snaps' "It's A New Day." The sample is used in rap classics like The Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By," Mobb Deep's "Give Up the Goods," Gang Starr's "Take It Personal," and Black Moon's "Who Got Da Props."

In his final post on Instagram, Stezo wrote about closing his barbershop after the COVID-19 pandemic.