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Gangsta Boo, influential Memphis rapper of Three 6 Mafia, dies at 43, reports say

Micaela A Watts - USA TODAY

Gangsta Boo, the pioneering female rapper who got her start as a teenager in Three 6 Mafia, has died at age 43.

The hip-hop star (real name Lola Mitchell) was found dead Sunday in Memphis, according to three local TV stations: Fox 13, WREG-TV, and WMC Action News 5, the latter a news partner of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. Fox 13 said it had confirmed her death with three sources, and WREG received confirmation from an unnamed representative for the rapper. Her cause of death was unknown.

Delmar Lawrence, also known as Mr. Del, a collaborator of Three 6 Mafia, told WMC that Mitchell was in town from LA for the holidays visiting friends and family at the time of her death.

Memphis police would not confirm Mitchell's death, citing official identification and next-of-kin notifications.

USA TODAY has reached out to the rapper's representatives for confirmation and details.

DJ Paul, one of the founding members of Three 6 Mafia, took to social media to pay tribute to Mitchell Sunday, with a wordless post of Mitchell at turntable mixer. Ludacris,

Big Boi, 2 Chainz and Lil Jon, among others, shared condolences in the comments.

The rise of Mitchell – also known as "the Queen of Memphis" or "Lady Boo" – as an ambassador of Memphis hip-hop started with her work on Three 6 Mafia's first full-length studio album, "Mystic Stylez," in 1995. She recorded several albums with Three 6 Mafia before parting ways with the group after the 2001 release of her second solo album,

"Both Worlds *69." Her many collaborations include featured appearances with OutKast, Foxy Brown, Yo Gotti and Run the Jewels.

And while her success is associated with Three 6 Mafia, her solo work held its own. In 1998, she released "Enquiring Minds," which included the hit, "Where Dem Dollars At?!"

All three of her solo albums ranked on R&B charts. A steady stream of mixtapes and collaborations kept her name in play over the span of her nearly three decade-long career.

As one of the first major female rappers representing the South, she shone a spotlight on those who came behind her, including GloRilla (aka Gloria Woods), the latest Memphis rapper to nab the national spotlight with hits like "F.N.F."

Last fall, Mitchell appeared on the podcast "Drink Champs," and spoke of the rising stars of GloRilla and Memphis rapper Gloss Up.

"It just made me feel good, 'cause they went whack and they represented Memphis right," Mitchell said.

On Sunday evening, Woods shared screenshots of what she said were conversations between her and Mitchell.

"She always supported me & the girls way back before we blew up," Woods said.

Rapper Al Kapone (aka Alphonzo Bailey), Mitchell's friend and collaborator, described her death as a deep loss for Memphis. Mitchell, he told the Commercial Appeal, let him know early on what his own style and influence meant to her.

"Boo is one of the first to represent female rappers in a major way and still is respected by the new female rappers today," he said. "Gangsta Boo is one of the reasons Memphis rap is global today."

Before Mitchell's death, Billboard asked her to describe her legacy or impact on female rap and hip-hop and general.

"I have to admit, respectfully and humbly, that I am the blueprint. I hear my cadence in a lot of men and female rappers. ... I wear that badge proudly," she told the outlet. "It just feels great to stand in yourself and look in the mirror and be like, 'Wow, you did that.' "

Contributing: Kim Willis, USA TODAY

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