XXXTentacion Dead at 20: Other Hip-Hop Artists Who Died Young
After the death of XXXTentacion, here's a look at other hip-hop artists gone too soon.
Rapper XXXTentacion was shot dead during an apparent robbery Monday and the hip-hop world is in mourning. The 20-year-old, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, was leaving a Florida motorsports store when he was killed. Kanye West, J.Cole, and Pusha T are among those speaking out about the young rapper's death. Unfortunately, XXXTentacion isn’t the first in the hip-hop community to die young. Here is a list of nine other prominent hip-hop artists who died unexpectedly.
Notorious B.I.G, 24
The Brooklyn rapper, who was also known as Biggie Smalls or simply "Biggie," was 24 years old when he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting while leaving a Los Angeles industry party in March 1997. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Born Christopher Wallace, his tragic death shocked the hip-hop world as he was one of the most famous rappers at the time. His double-disc album, "Life After Death," was released just 16 days after he died and hit No. 1 on the U.S. charts. Decades later, his murder remains unsolved.
Tupac Shakur, 25
The California rapper was killed in a 1996 drive-by shooting after he’d left a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Bruce Sheldon in Las Vegas on his way to a nightclub. He died in the hospital six days later. With hits like “Dear Mama” and "California," Tupac was one of the biggest rappers of his era. Shakur has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, with seven of his 11 platinum albums released after his death. No one has ever been charged in connection with his murder. The deaths of Shakur and Biggie were spotlighted earlier this year in the USA series, "Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac & the Notorious B.I.G."
Easy E, 31
The California rapper, known as “the godfather of gangsta rap,” died due to complications from AIDS in 1995, just one month after his diagnosis. The Compton native came onto the hip-hop scene as a co-founder of the renowned rap group N.W.A. The box office hit, “Straight Out of Compton,” which was released in 2015, chronicled the group’s rise to fame and the effects of their controversial songs, including the infamous "F*** the Police."
Big Pun, 28
The Bronx rapper, also known as Big Punisher, died in February 2000 after he had difficulty breathing and collapsed. Emergency officials were not able to revive him, and at nearly 700 pounds he was declared to have died from heart failure. Big Pun was the first Latino rapper to have an album, Capital Punishment, go platinum. Two months after his death, Big Pun’s second album, "Yeeeah Baby," was released. It hit No. 3 on the charts.
Left Eye, 30
Lisa Lopes, the Grammy-award winning artist who was the “L” in the world-famous ‘90s girl group TLC, died in a car accident when she lost control of her vehicle while vacationing in Honduras in 2002. TLC recorded four multi-platinum albums with hits like “No Scrubs” and "Waterfalls." Left Eye called Honduras her “second home” and was hoping to start a medical and education nonprofit there at the time of her death. Later, her family established the Lisa Lopes Foundation to work toward that mission.
The Detroit rapper, who was part of the rap group D12, died after a gun fight that erupted over game of pool in 2006. Proof fatally shot Keith Bender, Jr. before he was gunned down himself. It was the second death in the group as another member of the group, Bugz, was shot dead in 1999. D12 has had chart-topping albums in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia since the group's formation in 1995.
Ol' Dirty Bastard, 35
Also known as O.D.B., the rapper died in November 2004 after collapsing in a New York recording studio two days before his birthday. An autopsy later determined he died of an accidental drug overdose. Originally part of the nine-man group, the Wu-Tang Clan, the rapper, whose real name was Russell Jones, was known for being the wild card of the group. He stormed the stage at the 1998 Grammys during singer Shawn Colvin’s acceptance speech to talk about losing the award for Best Rap Album to Diddy.
Lil Peep, 21
The Long Island rapper died in 2017 from an accidental drug overdose while on his tour bus. He had numerous drugs in his system, an autopsy found. Born Gustav Åhr, the rapper starting making music in high school before dropping out. After uploading his music on YouTube, he made a plethora of fans as he talked about battling depression and anxiety. His songs “White Whine” and “Benz Truck” have millions of views on the platform.
Scott La Rock, 25
The Bronx rapper, born Scott Monroe Sterling, was on his way to fame when he was shot in the head in his hometown in 1987. He was reportedly helping to resolve a dispute for one of his friends at the time. Two men were arrested for the murder but acquitted at trial. Sterling worked as a social worker until he met rapper KRS-One and the pair formed Boogie Down Productions (BDP). The group's 1987 debut album, Criminal Minded, is considered a hip-hop classic.
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