MANATEE — After three months of promoting and making his latest album, things were looking up for local rap artist Rob D.
After a night of promoting the album at The Hall, a Palmetto night club, last week, Rob D climbed in behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade.
A few minutes later, he died in a car crash after the SUV collided with a 28-foot box truck going through the intersection of First Street and State Road 64 in Bradenton, according to the Bradenton Police Department.
Rob D, or Robert L. Collins, 30, of Palmetto, appeared to run the light, according to authorities. The SUV was heading south on First Street and estimated to be traveling at about 100 mph when it struck the side of the truck turning left onto First, according to the crash report.
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Collins performed as a local rap artist touring around the country since 1996, said his manager, Alvoid Mays.
He was the leading voice in a couple of groups including Mpeeeze and 41 Boyz.
“He was always that voice. Whether it was New York, West Virginia, no matter where you went, it was always, ‘Where’s Rob D?’” Mays said. “You’re talking about the greatest rapper in Manatee County if you ask people in the streets.”
Collins’ latest album, Barbara Jean’s Son, in honor of his mother, was supposed to reunite the rap groups he had performed with earlier in his career. During his career, he performed with artists including Lil Wayne and Too Short. He came close a couple of times to signing a recording deal with his rap group in about 2000.
“Man, when we didn’t reach our goals, we fell apart. We kind of drifted apart as a group. Rob kept doing music in and out of the studio. He kept working on the craft, but he ended up going to prison,” Mays said, sitting outside the office where he and Collins worked daily for three months.
Collins was released from prison in 2005 after serving a two year sentence on charges of selling cocaine.
But Collins had changed and things were looking up for him, Mays said.
Just a couple hours before his death, Mays said Collins told him, “I’m through with everything. I’m giving up the streets.”
“I know everyone says that. But he would rather go all out for the music and sacrifice everything even if it meant not making easy money. I hate he had to pass before it came into effect,” Mays said.
Mays said he plans to reunite the group despite Collins’ unexpected death.
A tribute performance is scheduled at The Hall on April 2. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.
“He was very outspoken. He loved to rap and be close to everyone,” said another long time friend, Michael Kelly, 36, of Palmetto. “I’m still very surprised. I can’t believe he’s gone.”