James Laurence, a Bay Area producer known as one half of the duo Friendzone, has passed away at the age of 27.
Laurence and his production partner, Dylan Reznick, are credited with pioneering a dreamy, hazy hip-hop sound that came to be called "cloud rap." In recent years the duo produced records for Main Attrakionz, A$AP Rocky, and Yung Lean, among others.
According to Laurence's Facebook page, he grew up in Danville, attending Monte Vista High School; he was living in Concord at the time of his death.
"We're all just in shock," said Squadda B of Main Attrakionz, the Oakland hip-hop duo whose 2015 album 808s & Dark Grapes III was produced by Friendzone. "He was such a loving person, a kind person. Free-spirited, always laughing. If you were down you could hit up James and he would bring you right back up. He cared about the people around him. And more than anything he was dedicated to music."
The artists first met, said the rapper, after Laurence and Reznick reached out over Twitter to say they were Main Attrakionz fans; the chemistry, upon meeting to discuss working together, was instant.