Breedlove died in his sleep on Sunday at his home in New Jersey, a family member reportedly told TMZ. The cause of his death is unknown.
He played Lotto in the 2002 film 8 Mile, which is loosely based on Eminem’s life, who faced off against Eminem’s character B-Rabbit in a freestyle rap competition.
Although Lotto ultimately lost the battle, he left the crowd in the film whooping and cheering after delivering lines such as “I feel bad but I gotta murder that dude from Leave It to Beaver” and “a Black guy doesn’t die in this movie”.
Before that he rapped under the stage name Ox, and featured on the soundtrack for the 2001 film The Wash with Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.
His mother posted an emotional tribute on Facebook to her “beloved son”, praising his “resilience and determination”.
Patricia A Breedlove wrote: “Nashawn was a rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor. No one could deny his talent.
“Nashawn’s departure from this world has left an immense void in my life, one that words cannot fully express. I can’t put into words the pain and hurt that I feel.
“He was not just my son; he was a remarkable man whose character and strength inspired all who crossed his path.”
New York rapper Mickey Factz paid tribute to Nashawn on Instagram, writing: “RIP to one of the few emcee’s to beat Eminem… Lotto from 8 Mile. Who’s friends lovingly called him, OX. You will be missed for your tenacity and aggressiveness.”
Cousin Hamid Breedlove, wrote in a tribute: “Even though you was my cousin, in reality you was my brother... I’m devastated by this loss. I love you and I’m going to miss you. Rest in peace Nashawn.”
Actor Joey Ambrosini wrote on Facebook: “May he be the only person I know who will be in Heaven after being in a rap battle with the proclaimed Rap God himself, Eminem. Rest easy, big guy.”