John “Ecstasy” Fletcher, a member of the seminal rap group Whodini, passed away on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. The cause of death has yet to be revealed, Billboard reports. He was 56.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Ecstasy formed the hip-hop trio Whodini in 1982 alongside lyricist Jalil Hutchins and DJ Crew Carter. They were reportedly one of the first rap groups to incorporate R&B sounds into their songs through classics such as “Friends” and “Freaks Come Out at Night,” as well as “Magic’s Wand,” “The Haunted House of Rock” and “Five Minutes Of Funk.”
The eccentric Ecstasy was always distinguishable by sporting the Zorro hat onstage and in videos. The group was also seen as one of the foundational members of the culture-shifting New Jack Swing movement spearheaded by fellow New York-born legend, producer Teddy Riley.
Just as rap music was elbowing its way into the American mainstream, Ecstasy and Whodini were often performing and touring alongside the other pioneers of the 1980s, including Run-D.M.C., Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa and The Fat Boys.
Whodini’s unique act helped influence the next generation of tide-turning acts in American music and pop culture, such as A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes and The Roots.
Understandably, the Roots’ Questlove took the news of Fletcher’s transition pretty hard.
Super producer Jermaine “JD” Dupri is especially crushed. Whodini helped him break into the business as his own entity when JD performed as one of the group’s background dancers in the 1980s. JD, of course, went on to establish the iconic indie label So So Def and create such 90s stars as Kris Kross, Bow Wow, Da Brat and Xscape, among others.
RIP to Ecstasy from https://t.co/MiqnKeBFeK of the most under appreciated voices in hip hop. Too many hits! Condolences to his fam ✨🙏🏾✨
— QTip (@QtipTheAbstract) December 23, 2020