Hip-Hop Artists Who Left Us Way Too Soon
| LAST UPDATE 11/03/2022
There's no denying that rappers live wild lives, from touring the country to partying like no one else. Sometimes, that lifestyle can turn dangerous and lead to a tragic and premature end. These artists live on through the music they left behind.
PnB Rock learned everything he knew from growing up on the streets in Philly. When he was just 13, he was sent to a youth detention program. And a few years later, he was sentenced to 33 months in prison, where he penned his debut mixtape in 2014, Real N*gga Bangaz.
A year later, he inked a record deal with Atlantic Records and dropped the single Selfish. And just like that, his career popped off. Unfortunately, his life was cut short back in September when he was robbed and fatally shot at LA's Roscoe's House of Chicken 'N Waffles after posting his expensive bling on Instagram earlier that day.
Juice WRLD was a leading face in the emo rap and SoundCloud scene back in the mid-late 2010s before he gained significant clout for his now diamond-certified 2018 single, Lucid Dreams. According to the rapper, his name came from the 1992 film, Juice, representing him "taking over the world."
Following the release of his second album, Death Race for Love, in 2019, the Robbery artist died after a tragic overdose. However, his voice carried on when his first posthumous album, Legends Never Die, was dropped in 2020 and his second in 2021, Fighting Demons. Safe to say, he really is taking over the world...
Atlanta has a long history as a thriving city of rap. Each year, new names pop out of the woodwork. And in 2016, it seemed Bankroll Fresh was destined for the spotlight. Unfortunately, all of that changed when he was ambushed and fatally shot at a local recording studio later that year.
A friend of 2 Chainz, Bankroll was widely known for his bold style and crass honesty in his lyrics. After earning national buzz with a collection of mixtapes, Fresh was geared up to release his debut album In Fresh We Trust before his life abruptly ended. Bankroll was 28-years-old when he passed away.
Lil Snupe rose to fame by getting his demo into the hands of Meek Mill. 20 minutes after taking a listen, Snupe got a phone call saying that he had caught Meek's attention. The kicker? He was only 16-years-old and seemed destined for super-stardom. Unfortunately, by the time Snupe turned 18, he passed away.
The ripple from passing at such a young age is tragic enough, but the damaging cause for his death makes the situation even worse. According to reports, Snupe got into an argument about NBA 2K that ended with him badly wounded in the chest. The man who took his life was double his age and later turned himself in to authorities.
The inconsistent timeline of Mac Miller's passing has continued to unfold since the day it happened. The 26-year-old rapper was well-known for his immense growth experienced throughout his short-lived career. Mac had just released a new album at the time, but a month later, the world would be mourning his worldly presence.
Mac's evolution from a boy to an articulate man was an inspiring journey into adulthood for fans. Miller released his first album with the intention of a very personal feel throughout it. Unfortunately, in September 2018, he suddenly lost his life to substances. Two people have since been arrested relating to his passing.
Hussle spent the majority of his adult life with sights set on "[Buying] back the block." His end goal was to purchase and renovate a strip mall in his old neighborhood. Centered around his Marathon Clothing store, the project was that type of never-stop-hustling ambition that turned listeners into fans who were "Proud to pay."
Nipsey put that devotion into a groundbreaking $1K mixtape, Mailbox Money. But, with patience, he waited another 4 years to release his debut album: The Grammy-nominated Victory Lap. Sadly, during a dispute with a past comrade, Hussle was attacked in the same strip mall he'd spent his adulthood trying to buy.
Known for his raunchy subject matter so intense that it caught the FBI's attention, Eazy-E was among the pioneers of gangster rap. Not to mention the face of the iconic rap group NWA. Eazy was so charming that he was almost expected to break out as a solo act during the NWA days. When he did, he struck platinum with Eazy-Duz-It.
No one is really sure what happened to the rowdy rapper, but everyone has their own ideas. Formally, Eazy was diagnosed with HIV, which later developed into AIDS and took his life. Some believe he was deliberately infected with the disease, while others believe it was a contaminated acupuncture experience that infected him.
Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes embodied the rap component of TLC. She would spit just the right lyrics to complement her group members, T-Boz and Chili. She could both harmonize with them and hop onto a track to shred through a verse full of emotional lyrics. Their top hit, Waterfalls, is an example.
Left Eye opted for a solo career after much commercial and critical success with the group. She never formally released an album in the U.S. but worked hard on her album N.I.N.A. until she passed away. While doing charity work in Honduras, Lopes was in a tragic car accident that took her life.
Despite only being active in the music world for a couple of years, Lil Peep quickly became known for dramatic emo rap-rock fusion music. With a mix of mysterious rendering, subdued rap presentation, and wailing whenever he decided to sing, he'd acquired cult-like supporters.
Like Mac Miller, Lil Peep was the victim of a laced substance accident. The flourishing star was preparing for a show when he simply fell asleep. No vulgar action was suspected, and toxicology reports found a dangerous mixture of substances in his system. Lil Peep was only 21-years-old when he passed.
Fredo Santana wasn't just a rapper; He was also the older cousin of Chief Keef. Unfortunately, despite a rap career of his own underway, Fredo passed away due to a fatal seizure in January 2018 at just 27-years-old. His autopsy later revealed traces of cardiovascular disease.
As a result of his turbulent childhood, Santana had a complicated relationship with substances. Unfortunately, his death was likely the result of elongated substance abuse. His painful past had bled into his music, where he earned praise with crude, simplistic lyrics full of vivid depictions of his trauma and unruly attitude.
J Dilla is celebrated as a producer out of Detroit. Besides making beats for his crew, Slum Village, along with legends such as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Busta Rhymes, he wasn't too shabby on the microphone either. He created a unique and bare-boned sound that relied on his quality of soulful loops.
That promptly became the brand sound for all subterrene hip-hop music during the 2000s. Unfortunately, Dilla suffered from a rare blood disease called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. In February 2006, just 3 days after his second album's (3Donuts) release, he passed at 32-years-old due to complications with the condition.
DeShaun Holton gained fame as 'Proof,' Eminem's right-hand man. But back in high school, Proof was so talented that Eminem would ditch class to mosey through town just for the opportunity to rap with him. Proof later served as Eminem's hypeman and a member of the group D12 for years.
Proof later amassed tons of critical approval for Searching for Jerry Garcia, his solo album. He favored complex multi-level lyrics with a dash of humor. He leaned toward introspective raps about his upbringing. When he was 32-years-old, he tragically lost his life in a fight over a bar pool game in Detroit.
After recording several albums via No Limit Records, New Orleans rapper Soulja Slim seemed destined for the stage before he tragically lost his life in front of his mom's home. It appeared that Slim would be the next star to emerge from the Magnolia projects with an aggressive style, gritty lyrics, and raw, passionate delivery.
His sudden passing remains an unsolved cold case to this day. Someone was arrested for the event but was soon released after no witnesses braved coming forward to testify against him. Soulja Slim was only 26-years-old at the time but was posthumously scored a #1 hit with Juvenile on the single "Slow Motion."
The large-statured Big Pun scored a platinum debut album with Capital Punishment, plus a Top 40 hit with Still Not a Player in 1998. Along with his extraordinary tongue-twisting rap ability, many friends and acquaintances felt he had an undeniable charisma that was perfect for this industry.
Unfortunately, Pun suffered from various health problems due to his weight. Even after enrolling at Duke University's weight loss program, he couldn't keep his size under control. He passed away in February 2000 due to a heart attack and respiratory failure. The 28-year-old was reportedly 698 pounds at the time.
By the time he passed away, Pimp C was 33-years-old and had already lived a legendary career. Even with a catalog full of classics, he had yet to break through into the mainstream. Soon after appearing on Jay-Z's Big Pimpin, Pimp C was sentenced to 8 years in prison for aggravation with a dangerous weapon.
Known as half of the talented group UGK beside Bun B, Pimp shined as a unique act. After his 2005 release from prison, he dropped Pimpalation. The album peaked at #3 on Billboard and eventually went gold. But in 2008, he was found lifeless in a CA hotel, potentially due to his substance use combined with pre-existing sleep apnea.
34 may seem slightly old for a rapper, but Mac Dre was busy perfecting his rhymes and gaining national attention thanks to pioneering the Bay Area's Hyphy Movement. After a prison-stay for crimes related to robbing a bank, Dre reinvented himself mid-career.
He began concentrating on party musicology, where his joyful energy and quick punchlines made for an energetic ride every time the Vallejo rapper took over a beat. But before he could benefit from that win, and after a business conflict with a local gig promoter, he was viciously attacked in Kansas City.
Amid struggling with label issues back in 1999, Big L was recognized and credited by many as one of the best lyricists on Earth. A new leaf seemed to finally be turning as Big L was rumored to be signing with Jay-Z's Roc-a-Fella records. But, things quickly changed when he was impaled 9 times in a drive-by in Harlem, NY.
The music industry came to a screeching halt as Big L was remembered for his mind-bending wordplay and intricate storytelling. Big L and his potential career with Roc-a-Fella was viewed as one of the most stupefying "What if?" scenarios in rap history.
Stack Bundles had yet to release an album when he suddenly passed away in 2007. But for fans familiar with the mixtape circuit at the time, he was one of the hottest prospects in all of hip-hop. Bundles was viewed as ahead of his time thanks to his energetic flow and charismatic, punchline-ridden lyrics.
Unfortunately, he was never able to fulfill his potential. Bundles was fatally injured in the Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway, Queens. The 24-year-old rapper was impaled in the head and neck. His rap associate Jim Jones compared Stack's talent to Drake, saying: "Drake would a had a problem on his hands, a big problem."
Ol' Dirty Bastard
Ol' Dirty Bastard was the most unruly and unique member of the Wu-Tang Clan. And, for numerous fans: The most interesting. ODB only released two critically acclaimed solo albums throughout his lifetime, leaving fans endlessly craving more. But, unfortunately, his story was cut short.
In his later years, OBD was reported to have erratic beShareif Ziyadat / Contributor via Getty Imageshavior. In 2003, he was reportedly diagnosed with schizophrenia. The next year, mere days before his 36th birthday, ODB collapsed in Manhattan at fellow Wu-Tang member RZA's studio. His passing was ruled an involuntary overdose.
Currently, the story of Tupac's devastating passing is known by nearly everyone. There's even been a documentary about the rapper's life created. Tupac was caught up in an exchange between weapons after being confronted by an alleged member of the 'Crips' gang in Las Vegas.
Before his unfortunate departure, Tupac was a legend. He gripped fans with his heartfelt confessionals and socially mindful lyrics. This clashed with his more direct effects of paranoia and anger but also somehow worked. Many believe that his appeal transcended hip hop and that his story will live on for many years to come.
The Notorious B.I.G.
There's no denying that Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. will forever be linked in rap history. Their passings were relatively similar, both having comparable wounds and being unsolved without direction. But, what made B.I.G. an icon in the music world was his ability to spit seamless lyrics.
The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie is seen by many as one of the great pioneers of modern rap music. Thanks to the stories he managed to intertwine into his sets, he kept audiences engaged from beginning to end of performances. And, he never missed a beat.
When Atlanta's Dolla hit the scene, he seemed to be a ready-made star. His tone was meant for the club, with quick one-liners and smooth flow. Add the natural model looks that caught Diddy's eye and landed him in a Sean Jean campaign. It seemed to be a when not if Dolla would breakthrough into the mainstream situation.
Before he knew it, Dolla signed with Akon's Konvict Muzik. At that point, it appeared to be only a matter of time before Dolla would experience his great discovery. However, in 2008, he was viciously attacked in Los Angeles before his career could really launch.
Florida-based rapper XXXTentacion was among the most controversial artists alive when he was fatally injured during a burglary in 2018. Widely recognized for his genre-bending music and passionate shows, he shot to the top of the charts thanks to his supportive fanbase that followed and kept up with everything he did.
XXXTentacion had just released new music; The internet and nearly every social media platform were set ablaze after the horrible event. Since the extremely tragic day, 4 men have been arrested and charged for various robbery and weapon use roles. That included alleged frontman, Michael Boatwright.
The Jacka happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in 2015. He was injured by a stray shard of metal flying through the air. Compared to the other victims, he was the oldest on the list at 37-years-old. With Jacka's music career already 15-years strong, he still had yet to break through into the mainstream.
Instead, The Jacka mainly existed as a regional icon. He was respected nationally as a pioneer of abrasive street rap that helped craft the sound for nearly all rap to emerge from the Bay Area in the last decade. Unfortunately, like many others on this list, his case remains cold to this day.
Chinx Drugz was on his rise to fame in Queens as a part of French Montana's Coke Boys record label when his life abruptly ended in 2015. Chinx had a flawless ear for production and even caught the eyes of Rick Ross and Diddy and for a remix of the hit track, I'm A Coke Boy.
His passing was the tragic result of an ongoing vendetta with a man he fought in jail years prior. According to authorities, the person stalked Chinx via social media and followed him home. At a stoplight, Chinx's life was taken from him when he was just 31-years-old.
Jahvante Smart, AKA Smoke Dawg, was widely known for working with the hip hop group Halal Gang. Alongside others, the talented and tight-knit crew formed a group called Full Circle. Sadly, the world lost the Canadian singer when he was only 21-years-old.
Smoke Dawg was fatally injured outside of a nightclub, and unfortunately, he wasn't able to heal from the wounds. Remembered with lightheartedness, an inside source shared, "As a young man from Regent Park, he overcame poverty and grew into a responsible, caring grown man who took care of his friends and family."
Rapper, singer, and songwriter, Pop Smoke was a crucial part of Brooklyn's expanding drill movement. Also referred to as Bashar Barakah Jackson, the talented music mogul amazed fans with hits such as Welcome to the Party and Dior. But, no one expected what came next.
When his second mixtape, Meet the Woo 2, was released, no one would have thought it would be his last. The morning of February 19th, Pop Smoke was attacked in his Hollywood Hills home just 2 weeks after moving in. He was barely 20-years-old, but his legacy will live on forever.
Pittsburgh native Jimmy Wopo was a close friend of Wiz Khalifa and was an exceptionally talented artist. Jimmy, also known as Travon Smart, started rapping at age 7 to earn extra money from the adults within his community. It's no surprise Wopo's given name was Smart!
He made his rap debut in 2016 with his song Elm Street. But on June 18th, 2018, everything in his life took a sharp turn. Jimmy was fatally incapacitated inside a car in Pittsburgh. In a strange turn of events, that sorrowful day happened to be the exact date that XXXTentacion was endangered in Florida.
Double K, or Mike Turner, made up one-half of the hip-hop duo, People Under The Stairs. He accomplished many things throughout his music career, including recording 12 studio albums and over 20 single tracks. But, on January 30th, 2020, just before ringing in the new year, a friend of Turner's posted some sad news on Instagram.
The talented rapper and producer had "Passed away peacefully" of unspecified causes at his home at the age of 43. Chuck D of Public Enemy paid tribute to his musical comrade saying Double K was "A great young man, dedicated to the craft. Gone too soon."
Dearon Thompson was a rapper, actor, and motivational speaker who appeared both as Nurse Malik McGrath in the TV series ER and on stage as Deezer D. According to his brother Marshawn, the family reported finding him unresponsive in his home on the morning of January 7th, 2021.
Although the Thompson family believes D passed away due to a heart attack, there is no official cause yet. According to NPR News, the 55-year-old had undergone a large corrective heart surgery back in 2009 to replace his aorta vein and repair a heart valve.
33-year-old Chucky Trill is a rapper that passed away most recently on March 5th, 2021. Unfortunately, he was the target of an evil-minded ambush that left him in severe condition. Although he was rushed to the hospital, he was unable to survive the wounds that were inflicted.
The Music for the Soul artist, like each person on this list, left a large hole in the world of music when they left our physical realm. Thankfully, their songs, albums, and memories will live on in the ears and hearts of many as the years go on. May their musical memories continue to be a blessing to us all.
Scott La Rock
Scott La Rock technically was not a rapper. However, he was a part of one of the most iconic hip-hop groups ever: Boogie Down Productions. They formed the crew with KRS-One back in 1986, and Scott was the group's DJ. He helped create the sounds for some of the most historical music in rap history.
Scott La Rock was only 25-years-old when he was fatally injured while trying to break up a heated fight. The argument was between fellow BDP member D-Nice and another man. All of these years later, the crime painfully still remains unsolved, like many other cases on this list.
Ever since stepping onto the scene back in the '90s, Earl 'DMX' Simmons took the world of Hollywood by storm. From Billboard Hot 100 hits to starring roles on our screens, the rapper was seemingly unstoppable. Unfortunately, everything changed on April 9th, 2021.
After suffering a heart attack, the beloved star passed away at just 50-years-old. While he may have been taken from this world too soon, DMX's legacy is bound to live on forever. His larger-than-life personality and matching on-stage presence will certainly never be forgotten.
The Chicago-based rapper spent a few of his teenage years in jail before he was acquitted and began to pursue his music career. However, upon his release, fellow rapper Lil Durk saw something in him. He signed the aspiring artist to his Only the Family record label, where he dropped his breakout single, Crazy Story.
After the success of his single in 2018, he continued to drop banger after banger, but people were still after him. At the end of 2020, Von and his crew were involved in an altercation with Quando Rondo's crew in Atlanta when things got way out of hand. Sadly, the dispute ended in gunfire, where Von was shot multiple times.
Most of us remember him for his time in the hip hop group Migos, along with his uncle Quavo and his cousin Offset. But Take first got his start in the rap game in 2008. Upon the success of their single Versace, Migos became internationally known as the baddest and boujee-ist group out there.
Unfortunately, on November 1, at just 28 years old, the musician was fatally shot outside a bowling alley after a private party had just ended. Takeoff's uncle and fellow Migos member Quavo was with him during the tragic incident when he was pronounced dead on the scene due to a stray bullet. RIP Take.