The number one problem with rap music is that it’s so intrinsically linked to the violent and cutthroat inner-city culture of drugs and guns. So many of the most popular rappers grow up in extremely rough environments and after they become famous and successful, they can’t seem to cut the ties with the violent street elements that pervaded their early formative years. In several situations, this dark past comes back and results in them losing their lives over senseless shootings. Here are 10 rappers who were killed after they had already achieved fame …
Originating from Harlem NYC, Big L was one of the most talented rappers on the mid-nineties New York scene. He was part of the fresh crop of talent that was sweeping the city which included Nas, Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z. He was also affiliated with all the right music crews: D.I.T.C., Gangstarr and the Children of the Corn (which also included future stars like Cam’ron and Ma$e). He was a wickedly talented lyricist and he put out the acclaimed album Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous in 1995. He was on his way to Hip-Hop stardom when he was murdered in Harlem on Feb 15th, 1999. He was shot nine times and apparently, the gun man delivering the fatal wounds was his old childhood friend. He was just 24-yrs-old. What a shame!
It’s extremely sad when a young artist who has such a bright future and shows so much promise is killed for no reason at all. That was exactly the case that happened last year with the young and talented rapper Doe B. He was signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle label and he was really making a name for himself with a pair of mixtapes he had released titled Trap Life and Baby Jesus. His songs were starting to get heavy rotation on the B.E.T. network when he was senselessly killed on Dec. 28th, 2013. He was just 22-yrs-old. The sad thing is that most of these young rappers glorify the gangster lifestyle, but it never leads to anything positive.
Jam Master Jay:
Hailing from Jamaica, Queens, Jam Master Jay will forever be a very important figure in the annals of rap music history. After all, he was the DJ for one of the most popular rap groups of all time: Run DMC. The other two members of the group were Reverend Run and the ever-prolific DMC. However, Jam Master Jay had definite ties to the streets, and he was actually one of the main personalities involved in the early career of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. His life was cut short by bullets in 2002 by a gunman who entered the studio he was recording in. An official motive hasn’t been reported, but rumors link the hit to some street beef that was going on between 50 Cent and known Queens drug kingpin Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff. He was 37-yrs-old at the time of his death.
Stack Bundles is another NYC rapper who lost his life just as he was scaling the ladder to success. He spent most of the early to mid-2000’s building a buzz on the underground mixtape circuit and working a lot with influential NYC producer and disc jockey, DJ Clue. He was soon signed up by Harlem rapper/entrepreneur Jim Jones, and he was starting to make some real noise with his music alongside other upcoming talent like Max B. and French Montana. But on the way back from performing at a club on July 11th 2007, he was shot and murdered in his own building lobby. The police still found his wallet and jewelry on him leading many to believe that it was indeed a targeted hit. He was just 24-yrs-old.
The San Francisco/Bay Area on the West Coast is its own empire within the realm of Hip-Hop. It has its own sound, its own dances and boasts well-known and very unique personalities like E-40, Too Short and more. One of the mayors of the Bay Area Hip-Hop scene was the extremely prolific Mac Dre. He put out over ten albums between 1989 and 2003, and he had huge and very loyal fan base. Sadly, his life was snuffed out too early in Kansas City on Nov 1st, 2004. He had just performed in that city the night before and apparently there had been a payment dispute with the club promoter. The next day he was travelling in a white van when gunmen in a stolen car unleashed a barrage of bullets at his vehicle. The van ended up crashing and Mac Dre was pronounced dead on the scene as a result of a bullet wound.
Another mainstay group on the 90s rap scene was the NYC foursome called the Lost Boyz. They were known for their energetic and infectious anthems, and some of their biggest hits included “Renee” and “Jeeps, Lex, Coup.” One of the major members of the group was Freaky Tah – he was responsible for hyping the crowd up and really upping the energy levels at their live performances. On March 28th 1999, Tah was on a way to a friend’s birthday party in Queens when a gunman snuck up behind him and shot him in the back of the head. He didn’t survive the shot – he was just 27-yrs-old.
New Orleans rapper Soulja Slim was a rapper that rose from the New Orleans Hip-Hop scene. For a while, he was signed to the label No Limit Records owned and operated by Master P. However, it wasn’t till he went solo and launched his own independent label Cut Throat Committee Records in 2002 that his career really went to the next level. Sadly, his biggest hit “Slow Motion” with fellow New Orleans rapper Juvenile took off after he was tragically killed. He was murdered on Thanksgiving Eve in 2003 by a gunman who shot him four times outside his mother’s house. The song “Slow Motion” ended up reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard chart.
To most of the rap world, the rapper Proof was known mostly as one of Eminem’s best friends and the hype-man for Em’s live concerts. Proof was also a part of Eminem’s side group, D12 – which comprised of his old rapping crew from his early Detroit days. On April 11, 2006, Proof was senselessly killed over, of all things, a game of pool. Apparently an argument occurred over the billiards game Proof was playing with a certain Keith Bender. The fight heated up to a gun brawl and Proof shot Bender, and as retaliation, Bender’s cousin shot the rapper Proof four times. The shots ended up being fatal and the rapper died at the age of 32.
For those dedicated rap fans of Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls, his death was one of those moments you can never forget. We all remember the heightened East Coast/West Coast Hip-Hop tensions of that era, but no one ever thought that the King of East Coast Hip-Hop at that time would be caught up in all the stupidity. But on that fateful day of March 9th in 1997, the Hip-Hop world seemed to stop, because one of the most promising super stars of rap music was shot and killed in Los Angeles at the young age of 24. Even now, almost two decades after his death, his influence still looms heavily over Hip-Hop. He will forever be missed.
There’s no other way to describe it – TuPac was a creative polymath. He was a philosopher, a rebel, a leader, an actor, a poet, a lyricist and so much more. He just had this innate power to inspire and excite so many people by just being himself and speaking the truth in all situations. He was already a bona fide super star, but his killing in Las Vegas in September of 1996 made him a global legend. To this day, TuPac is still the most recognizable name in Hip-Hop. There have been university courses based on his music, movies and Broadway plays about him and several books written about his legacy. In the realm of Hip-Hop, there’s no one bigger (dead or alive) than TuPac Shakur.