Shocked social media reports began circulating early Wednesday that Donald Maurice Pears, who was in his early 40s, had died. Rodney Toomer, better known in the area as DJ Rodski, confirmed the death. Toomer said Pears had apparently died in his sleep at his sister's home sometime Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. Toomer said that Pears had been performing actively, but that he had been losing weight and experiencing kidney problems in recent months.
While he wasn't widely known to a mainstream audience, Bigg had a thriving independent career from the '90s onward, earning respect far outside southwest Alabama. He released two albums on Warlock Records, and was featured on the hit single "Poppin' My Collar" released in 2006 by Grammy-winning Memphis group Three 6 Mafia.
Mobile Rapper The Last Mr. Bigg passed away earlier this week. While not widely known he was one of the south's most influential rappers.
Jeff Childress, longtime publisher of Real Talk Urban, a magazine focusing on Southeastern rap, said Bigg's legacy was huge. "I knew he had made it big when I went to Cincinnati and they were playing his music on the radio and in the clubs," he said, speaking of a trip in 2002 or 2003.
Especially when it came to his home area, he'd been helpful to younger artists. "He was a big supporter of the local scene, he made it big, but he always gave back to the local community," Childress said. Last summer he headlined a "Summer Jam" at a local club, an event specifically designed to give new artists some stage time, and to show them how to use it. "He tore the stage down," Childress said of Bigg's set at the event.
"He was known all over the Southern region," said Mobile rapper Rod Maine. "They treated him in Atlanta like he was a celebrity."
"He was a big influence," said Maine. "He was one of the originators of the local scene."
The rapper also was prominently featured in a 2010 documentary titled "Number One with a Bullet," focusing on the relationship between rap and gun violence. In the film, Pears describes a 2004 incident in which he was shot twice in the head. He survived, but lost an eye; he later took to wearing a glittering prosthetic, which gave him a second stage name: DiamondEye.
Date Posted: Thursday, May 7th, 2015 , Total Page Views: 738
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