New York’s rap scene lost one of its staple players on Tuesday morning. Pumpkinhead (born Robert Alan Diaz) died at the age of 39 due to an undisclosed reason. Friend and producer Marco Polo was one of the first to announce the news.
Today is a very shitty day. Just got word my brother Pumpkinhead passed away at 5:40am this morning. My condolences to his family…R.I.P.
— Marco Polo (@marcopolobeats) June 9, 2015
Fellow Brooklyn rhymer and fourth-grade classmate Talib Kweli shared his thoughts on P.H.’s death.
Just finding out I lost a great friend today. RIP Robert Diaz AKA Pumpkinhead. Robert and I went to PS 282 together in Brooklyn, 4th grade. We then reconnected when he became an MC during the indie era of the late 90s. He signed to Makin Records, I signed to Rawkus. Then PH went on to reinvent himself again in the new battle rap era. He LOVED MCing and was great at it. To lose such a great human being so early in his life, man. No words. There is a fraternity of artists who were around for all of this. PH inspired us all. He will live on thru us even though his physical presence will be missed. RIP Robert Diaz.
Diaz got his start battle rapping in Park Slope when he was 10 years old, but first attracted attention with his dancing, according to his label’s website. He wanted to take up rhyming and eventually became a force in the competitive rap scene.
He broke through on the radio in 1997 with “Dynamic,” but his most notable work was his under-the-radar but well-received 2005 album Orange Moon Over Brooklyn, which Marco Polo helped produce. Diaz was married with two sons, according to Billboard.