By Daina Beth Solomon
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper Koopsta Knicca, from Oscar-winning Tennessee rap group Three 6 Mafia, died Friday in Memphis at age 40 after suffering a brain aneurysm, the band said.
Band member DJ Paul said that Koopsta Knicca died just as the two were working on a new record.
"Me and Koop had just started writing his new album 'Devil's Playground 2' ... but we didn't get a chance to record yet," DJ Paul said in a statement.
"We had concerts coming up starting next month too. He also just got a home in Vegas that he was moving to on Tuesday, but never got to even see it in person."
Hardcore rap collective Three 6 Mafia formed in the early 1990s in Memphis, releasing their first album "Mystic Stylez" in 1995.
Koopsta Knicca, real name Robert Phillips, recorded his solo album "Da Devil's Playground" in 1999 before parting with the band. The group went on to achieve mainstream success with its Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2006 for "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp," featured in the film "Hustle and Flow."
Koopsta Knicca reunited with several band mates in 2013 to form Da Mafia 6ix.
Bandmate Juicy J posted a tribute to the rapper on his Instagram, saying "Koopsta Knicca we made history! You will be missed." Hundreds of fans added their own tributes on social media.
(Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Christian Plumb)