Durham hip hop artist, UNC Chapel Hill teacher Josh 'Rowdy' Rowsey dies

Tom George Image
Friday, April 19, 2024
Local hip hop teacher, artist dies at 32
A local changemaker in the Durham music scene, who took his hip hop talents into the classroom at UNC Chapel Hill has died.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A local changemaker in the Durham music scene, who took his hip-hop talents into the classroom at UNC-Chapel Hill has died.

Josh Rowsey, also known as Rowdy, impacted young artists and musicians from the Triangle and beyond. Rowdy died suddenly from a heart attack Wednesday at the age of 32.

His impact was felt strongly in Durham at the space where he and other artists would gather - normally they would come to collaborate on music at NorthStar Church of Art, but today it was to grieve together.

"He meant so much to me in a musical sense. He taught me how to be a stronger person, a stronger man," said musician JammThaNubian.

Beyond the Bull City, the Tar Heel grad also taught at UNC's Carolina Hip Hop Institute, was a Hip Hop ambassador for the State Department, and even gave TedTalks on the impact of hip hop and started his own record label.

Now his voice lives on in those who followed in his footsteps.

"We have alumni that he taught that are now part of that organization carrying out that legacy. We have musicians who have been inspired by him, there are students at different schools that he's taught at," said one longtime friend.

Rowdy was the founder of both the UNC Cypher and the Med City Cypher in Durham. They will be paying tribute again on Friday at 9:19 pm in downtown Durham near the bull statue.