R.I.P. Lord Infamous

HipHopDX reports that Three 6 Mafia founding member Ricky Dunigan, known to the world as Lord Infamous the Scarecrow, died last night at his mother’s house in Memphis. The cause of death hasn’t yet been reported. Infamous was 40.

Infamous was the older half-brother of Three 6 co-leader DJ Paul, and started performing and making tapes with Paul before forming Three 6 in 1993. As the group rose from a local Memphis phenomenon into a regional institution, Infamous cut arguably the most memorable figure within the group. With his nose rings and elaborate tattoos, Infamous had a powerful presence in the group’s videos. He also loved rapping about violence and occultism in a demonic rasp that would switch from eerie singsong to double-time fast-rap. Of the group’s members, he’s probably the most responsible for creating a demonic horror-movie atmosphere, which was powerful enough that people would accuse the group of Satanism, a charge they always denied.

After 13 years with Three 6, Infamous had to cut official ties with the group in 2006 when he went to prison for firearms possession, thus breaching his contract with Sony. But after coming home four years later, he continued recording with Paul and on his own. And he recently participated in the Three 6 Mafia pseudo-reunion Da Mafia 6ix, who released the great 6ix Commandments mixtape just last month.

With his wild delivery and his general air of depravity, Infamous was a deceptively influential rapper, and these days people like SpaceGhostPurrp are making livings by copying his style as closely as possible. And as that last mixtape showed, he still had plenty left in the tank. Below, watch him in Three 6’s “Tear Da Club Up ’97” video.