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Heavy D wasn’t as successful with his later Boyz-free albums. He attempted a reggae-fueled comeback in 2008 with the album “Vibes,” which didn’t contain any rapping. He returned to his lyrical roots on his latest album, “Love Opus,” which was released in September, and he performed a medley of his past hits at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards last month.

“I’m so glad that we got to work together for his performance at last month’s BET Hip-Hop Awards,” said Stephen Hill, BET’s president of music programming and specials. “Hev was focused, energetic and happy. He worked hard, as he always had, to excite the crowd. Our condolences go to his family and specifically his daughter who he doted on. He was a unique figure in hip-hop and will be missed.”

He most recently had a cameo appearance in the new movie “Tower Heist,” starring Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller.

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AP Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody in Los Angeles and AP Writer Mesfin Fekadu in New York contributed to this report.