Rodney Bryce, popularly known as DJ E-Z Rock (pictured left); one half of the hip hop duo with Rob Base, died on Sunday April 28th, at the age of 46.
Rob Base confirmed the news to Rolling Stone; the cause of death has yet to be revealed.
E-Z Rock and Base debuted in 1986 with “DJ Interview.” Two years later, their single “It Takes Two” shot the duo to fame, and sealed their place in musical legend. The song has been picked up throughout pop culture. It peaked at No. 3 on the Hot Dance/Club Songs chart; has been sampled by many hip hop artists like Snoop Dogg, Gang Starr and countless others; and has appeared in movies and even video game soundtracks.
Rock and Base followed up the hit with a debut album of the same name, and another big single, “Joy and Pain.” The album was certified platinum in 1989, peaking at No. 31 on Billboard 200.
Undisclosed personal issues would later separate the two; they reunited in the next decade to release Break of Dawn in 1994.
Rob Base and E-Z Rock both grew up in Harlem, becoming friends in the fourth grade. “Back then, there were other groups and we used to see other people perform,” E-Z Rock told Pennsylvania newspaper The Morning Call in 1991. “I bought a set of turntables and he bought a mic.”
As E-Z Rock recalled, the duo sent “It Takes Two” to hip-hop label Profile Records and received a call from the label the next day. “At first, it was kind of weird because we only had one record,” Rock said of the group’s first hit “Make It Hot.” “We would open up for people and get on for 15 minutes doing that one song. Then, when ‘It Takes Two’ came out, we started headlining.”
Various hip-hop artists paid condolences to the DJ on social media. DJ Scratch posted a late-Eighties picture of the duo on his Instagram, while Biz Markie tweeted, “R.I.P. to EZ Rock from Rob Base and EZ Rock. You will truly be missed.” DJ Red Alert tweeted, “We Have Lost Our Very Own From Harlem NYC & The Hip-Hop Culture Our Brother DJ E-Z Rock. Rest In Peace…” and Base himself posted a picture on his Instagram with a picture of Bryce and the message “R.I.Power DJ EZ Rock. Team Fearless Salute.”