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To fans of late-'90s R&B group Blaque, Natina Reed was the sassy MC who gave hits like "808" their punch, but to Kurupt she was simply "a great person," her life cut short when she was killed in a car accident late Friday night in Atlanta.
Though they never married, Tha Dogg Pound rapper and Reed were engaged in the early 2000s and have a 10-year-old son, Tren Brown, together. Reed, who was crossing a street when she was struck, died two days shy of her 33rd birthday. On Sunday evening (October 28), Kurupt (born Ricardo Emmanuel Brown) expressed his profound loss and extended his gratitude for the outpouring of well-wishes in a statement.
"Myself and Tren, Natina's son, would like to thank everyone for their love and support during this tragic time," he said. "This is a tremendous loss to our family. Natina was a great person and I wish everyone had the opportunity to meet her and know her as I did."
Blaque were among a string of girl groups, including 702 and 3LW, that dominated the charts in the late 1990s. But Reed and her groupmates Brandi Williams and Shamari Fears had something of a fairy R&B godmother in TLC megastar Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who mentored the group and even made cameos in their videos until her own tragic death in April 2002 at age 30. (In an eerie turn, the energetic femcees known to have shared a close bond, fell a decade apart, both in car accidents and right around the same age.)
The trio enjoyed music industry success with singles like the aforementioned "808" and "Bring It All to Me"; their videos are a veritable time capsule of pre-millennium urban sounds and styles, from mid-riff-baring metallic jumpsuits to platform sneakers. They even took their act to the big screen, playing Compton, California-bred cheerleaders in the 2000 classic "Bring It On."
Reed's death prompted eulogizing as news made its way to the Net over the weekend. A distraught Williams posted this message on Twitter: "Last night the world was changed forever, life will never be the same....she was my sister."
Meanwhile, the trio's "Bring It On" co-star Grabielle Union was brief but equally poignant, writing, "#RIP #Sad #BringItOn."
Although earlier reports cited an unidentified hit-and-run driver as culpable in Reed's death, a Gwinnett County police spokesperson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that "as of right now, it does not appear that the driver has any fault in this event," adding that it he actually contacted police about the accident and wasn't expected to face any charges. Reed was apparently standing a roadway late Oct. 26th and officials are seeking assistance from "anyone who might have information about anything that could help us determine why she was there."