Rappers Who Died Tragically
Developed as dance music for house parties in New York in the 1970s, rap and hip-hop evolved into a vital, visceral and expressive form of musical storytelling. Beats can be inspired by disco, soul and funk, but the lyrical content of rapping is more akin to ballads or folk – the best rappers tend to be the ones who tell deeply personal stories about what it’s like to be a young American in the 20th or 21st century, with an emphasis on struggle , failures and victories. Groups like Public Enemy and NWA have made hip-hop a place to discuss real social issues and a place to emphasize how survival itself is often a matter of life and death.
Notorious BIG: The tragic end of a hip-hop legend
The Notorious BIG, aka Biggie Smalls, aka Christopher Wallace, was a dominant figure in the East Coast rap world of the 1990s. His studio albums “Ready to Die” and “Life After Death” have sold millions of copies. Biggie’s eloquent flow brought many infectious hits like “Juicy” and “Big Poppa” to life. Tragically, on March 9, 1997, after leaving a music industry event, Wallace was shot four times in a drive-by shooting. Bullets took their toll, and Notorious BIG was only 24 years old.
Tupac Shakur: A shining West Coast star dimmed too soon
In the 1990s, the biggest West Coast star was Tupac Shakur, performing under the name 2Pac. Known for his throaty voice and versatile style, Shakur’s life was cut short on September 13, 1996. After a fight in a casino, he got into a BMW and a white Cadillac pulled up, firing 13 bullets into the car. Shakur underwent several life-saving surgeries, but succumbed to his injuries six days later at the age of 25.
Nipsey Hussle: The Silenced Modern Voice
In the 2000s, Nipsey Hussle brought back the captivating essence of 90s gangsta rap. The ex-gang member turned rapper documented and covered his experiences on the mixtape and platinum-selling album “Victory Lap”. Dedicated to ending LA’s violent street culture, Nipsey was shot and killed outside his clothing store in March 2019 at the age of 33.
Eazy-E: The Heartbreaking End of a Gangsta Rap Pioneer
Eazy-E, also known as Eric Wright, pioneered gangsta rap through NWA After being diagnosed with AIDS, he died in 1995 at the age of 30. Eazy-E’s signature voice contributed to rap milestones like “F**k tha Police” and “Boyz-n-the-Hood.”
Mac Miller: The Tragic Overdose of a Rising Star
Mac Miller’s career took off in the 2010s, marked by hits like “Knock Knock” and “The Way”. However, on September 7, 2018, Miller was found dead in his home of an accidental overdose of cocaine, alcohol and fentanyl. The rapper struggled with addiction, and his death at age 26 was a heartbreaking loss.
Lisa Left Eye Lopes: TLC’s charismatic rapper
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, part of the iconic trio TLC, brought charisma and acrobatic rapping to hits like “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs.” In April 2002, Lopes tragically lost control of her SUV in Honduras, resulting in a fatal accident. She was 30 years old.
Adam Yauch: The Beastie Boy’s Battle With Cancer
Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys faced a different kind of battle. After being diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in 2009, Yauch’s health deteriorated and he died in 2012 at the age of 47. His contributions to songs like “Intergalactic” and “Fight For Your Right” left an indelible mark on hip-hop.
Heavy D: The sudden loss of an “overweight lover”
Heavy D, born Dwight Myers, was a charismatic rapper known for hits like “Now That We Found Love.” In 2011, he collapsed at home and died of a pulmonary embolism caused by deep vein thrombosis. A blood clot likely formed during a long flight, which led to the sudden death of the “overweight lover” at the age of 44.
Big Punisher: A tough loss for hip-hop
The Big Punisher, born Christopher Rios, was a rising star in the late ’90s with hits like “I’m Not a Player.” Struggling with weight problems, he suffered a heart attack in 2000 at the age of 28. His untimely death highlighted the challenges he faced due to his size.
In the world of hip-hop, these tragic losses serve as reminders of the fragility of life. Each artist left an indelible mark on the genre, and their legacy continues to resonate with fans around the world. As we celebrate their contributions, we also reflect on the impact of their untimely departures, leaving us to wonder what else they could have accomplished had they been given the chance to grow old in the world they shaped.