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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Texas rapper Chad "Pimp C" Butler, a member of the chart-topping duo UGK (Underground Kingz), died in a Los Angeles hotel room on Tuesday, officials said. He was 33.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said detectives were investigating the death of a "male black adult" at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood.
The Web site TMZ.com, which broke the news, quoted an official with the Coroner's department as saying that Butler appeared to have died of natural causes. An autopsy will be performed, the official added.
UGK's Jive Records label issued a statement mourning "the unexpected loss" of the rapper, who was on the brink of major stardom.
"He will be remembered for his talent and profound influence as a pioneer in bringing southern rap to the forefront," Jive president and CEO Barry Weiss said.
UGK, in which Butler performed with Bernard "Bun B" Freeman, topped the U.S. pop album charts in August with "Underground Kingz," its first entry on the survey in five years. Pimp C spent much of that time in prison, serving nearly four years for aggravated assault. He was paroled in 2005.
Butler's manager, Rick Martin, who identified the body, said his client had mended his ways after his prison stretch, and was "set to soar" with multiple new business plans, including a solo recording deal, a satellite radio show, and a national endorsement deal for a brand of cologne.
Butler, who was born in Port Arthur, Texas, formed UGK with Freeman when they were in high school. They signed with Jive in 1992 and released eight albums for the label.
Butler is survived by his wife, Chinara, and three children.
Jive is a unit of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann