Chuck Freeze Of Early 1980s Rap Group Jazzy 5 Has Passed Away At Age 54

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Bronx, New York native MC Chuck Freeze has died. Born Charles Foushee, the founding member of the Jazzy 5 was found unconscious and unresponsive Sunday (April 1) in his Hollis, Queens residence. According to The New York Daily News, he was pronounced dead by emergency responders shortly after arrival. Freeze was 54 years old. The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office has since determined the cause of Foushee’s death to be related to high blood pressure.

The Jazzy 5 is best known for 1981 Tommy Boy Records hit “Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Version),” a collaboration with fellow Bronx representative and Hip-Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa. Chuck’s band-mates included Sundance, Master Ice, A.J. Les, Master Bee, Master Dee, and others. On the Arthur Baker-produced record, Freeze rhymed as “Chuckie Chuck.”

It marks the first record released on Bam’s name, based on Gwen McRae’s newly-released “Funky Sensation.” The 12″ single featured “Bronx” and “Manhattan” mixes of the track on its two sides, with the former gaining the popularity. It served as a symbolism of Hip-Hop’s Downtown expansion, into new Manhattan venues. Complex deemed the song the most important Hip-Hop record of 1981 in their yearbook. The Beastie Boys and Steinski & Double Dee subsequently paid homage to the track. The Jazzy 5 (sometimes stylized as “Jazzy Five”) formed in Soundview Projects as a collective of solo talents. They also performed with DJ Jazzy Jay during a short period on wax.

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Although his discography may be small, Chuck Freeze was active in Hip-Hop for more than 40 years. The night before Chuck was found, he played a concert. DJ Kevie Kev Rockwell of the Fantastic Five was at his side during the Bronx, New York concert March 31 at club Essentials 608.

“Chuck [Freeze] is a people’s person,” Kev said in a statement to the Daily News. “In Hip-Hop, for some reason, everybody was always battling, trying to cut each other’s throat instead of sticking together. That’s why the pioneers don’t have the money that new Hip-Hop artists have. But Chuck was different. He was like, ‘Everybody can eat. If we share this light, everybody can eat.’ He was always optimistic. Very loving and very caring. Very appreciative of life.”

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A decade ago, the Jazzy 5’s Sundance (aka Leon Hayward) died from complications due to lymphoma. He was recognized for heroism for helping others evacuate during 9/11. The New York Times reported on Sundance’s illness and symptoms beginning shortly after the civilian was in the smoke and fire helping others. “He became, officially, the latest casualty of the September 11 terror attack, and just after 10 [am] on a gusty, dreary Friday morning, the name Leon Bernard Heyward was read for the first time at ground zero as the nation paused again to remember its losses,” reported The Times.

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Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Chuck Freeze.