HOUSTON -- Anthony Mills, known by fans in the Houston music community as Zin, was being called an irreplaceable voice following a violent traffic accident near Denver that claimed his life.

Authorities said a suspected drunk driver slammed his SUV into the car Zin was traveling in. The 42-year-old Houston hip hop artist and another man in the car died from their injuries.

Zin was considered an urban maestro who created music that offered listeners a glimpse of life in the ghetto. But his talents stretched far beyond the studio.

Activist Deric Muhammad knew Zin for more than 20 years and saw him as a fellow warrior fighting to help lift up the less fortunate.

"He cared about others more than he cared about himself," Muhammad said.

Deniz Lopez is a DJ at All Real Radio, an internet station she helped start with Zin a year and a half ago.

"He was my best friend," Lopez said. "There's a whole community that he gifted me. He gifted so many people."

Zin's impact in the community was on full display Monday night when hundreds of people gathered for a hastily arranged vigil just hours after learning of his death.

Houston rapper Bun B said hip hop had lost a one-of-a-kind talent.

"This was a soldier for his community, a soldier for hip hop culture, a soldier for Houston," Bun B said.

Zin was recognized by Houston's mayor, who sent out a tweet saying he was saddened to learn of the artist's death.

"He was born to be a voice for the voiceless," Muhammad said. "He was born to create a platform for the people no one else would listen to."

They'll have to listen now through his music.