On stage in Minneapolis, Minnesota Sunday evening, Aesop Rock announced that emcee Camu Tao had died after nearly a two-year bout with lung cancer. The Columbus, Ohio native born Tero Smith, was just less than two weeks away from his 31st birthday. He reportedly passed in his hometown.

Camu Tao rose to fame with the MHz crew, which also consisted of producer RJD2, emcees Copywrite and Jakki Tha Mottomouth, plus DJ Przm, who passed away just under a year ago as well [click to read]. As the crew ascended to the ranks of the underground Hip Hop community through releases on Fondle ‘Em and ABB Records, Camu would end up at High & Mighty‘s Eastern Conference imprint as a solo artist. There, he would record his most significant album, Nighthawks with Cage, after a reported three-day recording session. The album was inspired by the Sylvester Stallone film of the same name.

Camu was also active with Def Jux Records. There, he would be a part of The Weathermen crew with Aesop Rock, Cage, El-P, Breeze Brewin and others, as well as one-half of S.A. Smash. With Metro, the latter group would release 2003’s Smashy Trashy. Additionally, Camu did release two editions of the limited Blair Cosby solo albums, as well as 2004’s Going For De Gold. None of the three efforts were distributed nationally.

Throughout the last three years, Camu‘s career had been feature appearances and production on peer albums while he readied his Def Jux solo. Highlights include producing and appearing on Cage‘s critically-acclaimed Hell’s Winter (“The Death of Chris Palko” [click to read]) comeback album [click to read], appearing on Aesop Rock‘s Danger, Fire & Knives album (“Rockety Rackety”), as well as Slow Suicide Stimulus album (“Cutty Sharks” / “Regardless”).

Below is “Counseling” by MHz from Table Scraps (2001, NCS)

Definitive Jux has yet to release a formal statement on Camu Tao‘s passing, although El-P did confirm the tragedy, but HipHopDX sends our condolences to family, loved ones and peers of the late, very talented producer/emcee. We will keep you updated.

Additional Reporting by Andreas Hale.