Amazing Rappers Who've Passed Away

The world has tragically lost some of the greatest rappers of all time, entirely too soon. Most are familiar with the brutal slayings of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac in the '90s, the overdose of Mac Miller, and the massive loss of DMX. Let us not forget some incredible talents who passed away and may not have received the same media attention. Whether they were on a path to change the course of hip-hop or become a budding entrepreneur, their lights were prematurely dimmed. 

It's been reported that the most common cause of death among hip-hop artists is homicide. Gun violence is unfortunately still a leading cause of death, killing at least one rapper per year since 2018, per CNN. Rappers like Murs and many others have even added anti-gun language in their tracks to try and bring awareness. "If shootin' is the solution then you're not that clever / If you don't know s***, then you still know better / A human life is so precious, it could never be measured" are lyrics from Murs' "Walk Like a Man."

Don't forget to "pour one out" as we remember just a few of the fallen.

PnB Rock

PnB Rock, real name Rakim Allen, was gunned down September 12, 2022, while eating in Los Angeles with girlfriend Stephanie Sibounheuang. He was rushed to the hospital and would eventually succumb to his injuries. He was 30 years old. The couple was dining outside at Roscoe's House of Chicken n' Waffles, when Sibounheuang snapped a picture of the two with a location on her Instagram story. Sometime not long after, a suspect approached the rapper and demanded that he hand over all the jewelry he was wearing. Seconds later, the suspect pulled out a gun and shot Rock multiple times. He escaped in a getaway car and, as of this writing, is still at large.

The "Cross-Me" and "Fleek" rapper once said he was inspired to become a rapper after listening to Drake's "Take Care" album at age 19.The eeriness of Rock's final interview about a week before his death echoes into the universe. He spoke with DJ Akademis about rappers getting robbed in Los Angeles in the DJ's podcast, "Off the Record with DJ Akademis."

"It's so common," he told Akademis. "I never got robbed. Ever in my life." Unfortunately, PnB Rock must be added to the list of celebrities that died in 2022.

Prodigy of Mobb Deep

Born Albert Johnson, Prodigy, one half of the rap duo Mobb Deep, had some health struggles that he shared openly. A staple in the hip-hop community since 1995 with eight studio albums (plus the compilation "The Safe Is Cracked"), Mobb Deep is best known for songs like "Quiet Storm" and "Shook Ones, Pt. II." To this day, Prodigy's death still haunts many as it could have been prevented. In 2017, it was reported that the 42-year-old choked on an egg while in the hospital being treated for sickle cell anemia. The egg blocked his airway, which caused him to choke to death.

"I'm still just f***ed up," Havoc, Prodigy's partner, told Vibe. "Like I can't even listen to 'Shook Ones' or any song. I hardly can look at the pictures because I don't know how. I don't know."

Prodigy was obviously known as an incredibly skilled and iconic rapper, but he was also an author. He published an autobiography, an urban crime novella, and even a cookbook. The cookbook was called "Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook," featuring some of the recipes he learned while in prison and his perspective on staying healthy while incarcerated. Prodigy left behind wife Ikesha Dudley and other family members.

Nipsey Hussle

Born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, Nipsey Hussle was best known for his mixtapes. Even Jay-Z was a huge fan before Hussle gained fame. In February of 2018, Hussle released his first studio album, "Victory Lap," which earned a Grammy nomination.

In March of 2019, Hussle was standing in front of his Los Angeles clothing store, Marathon, with a few acquaintances when a drive-by shooting occurred. The LAPD released the following statement on Twitter: "At approximately 3:20pm, there was a shooting reported in the area of Slauson Ave and Crenshaw Blvd. Three victims were transported to a local hospital where one was pronounced deceased."

The deceased victim? Rapper, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Nipsey Hussle. He was 33 years old. The shooting appeared to be deliberate, and on July 22, 2022, Eric Holder Jr. was found guilty of his murder. Amazingly enough, Hussle was awarded two posthumous Grammys at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance. Nipsey Hussle left behind his longtime love, Lauren London, and their baby boy.

Lil Peep

Rapper on the rise Lil Peep (born Gustav Åhr) was only 21 years old when he was found on his tour bus after an apparent overdose of Xanax. Lil Peep hailed from Long Island and was known for combining hip-hop and emo sounds, and was even called "the future of Emo" by Pitchfork. Many couldn't quite figure out the sound he was going for, which gave him somewhat mixed reviews on music blogs.

Lil Peep had a large following overseas, especially in Russia. He told The Times, "It turned out I'm like Justin Bieber over there. I couldn't walk down the street without being mobbed. If I wanted a burger, we had to drive. It was intense. Was I pleased? More shocked. At the gigs, I watched people singing my lyrics and wondered if they even knew what they meant." The heavily tattooed artist was also considered a rising fashion icon, per GQ. In an interview with the men's magazine, he talked about his fearlessness with fashion and described his personal style. "Breaking boundaries is my main goal," he said. "I like to get weird and mix things." 

After his accidental death, fellow musicians like Diplo took to Twitter to express what a great loss this was to the hip-hop community. "Peep had so much more to do man, he was constantly inspiring me. I don't feel good man."

Biz Markie

Biz Markie, known as the "clown prince" of hip-hop, knew how to make people laugh and simply enjoy his music. His 1989 hit "Just a Friend" became a worldwide classic, making him a household name.

Biz Markie was born Marcel Theo Hall in 1964 in New York City. He started out as a DJ and beat-boxer and then eventually became a rapper. He never took himself too seriously, but in 2020, there was speculation that Markie had disappeared. In reality, he had been hospitalized due to an illness. It was later announced in 2021 that Markie had diabetes and was in the hospital (again) dealing with a diabetic episode. This episode unfortunately led the 57-year-old to have a stroke — one that he would not survive.

Biz Markie's close friend and collaborator Cutmaster Cool V told DX Magazine, "Biz always said when we would get to heaven, we would be able to see the tapes. He'd say, 'I can't wait till we get to heaven and see all the tapes of all the funny times, of all the things we did.'"


DMX died in April 2021, at the age of 50, after suffering a heart attack and remaining in a vegetative state. The "Ruff Ryders Anthem" rapper, born Earl Simmons, always had the most incredible fans. They made national headlines when standing outside of his White Plains, New York, hospital, crossing their arms in an 'X," symbolizing their love and support in hopes he would wake up. DMX had an extremely impressive career; he was nominated for three Grammy Awards, plus was the first musician whose first five albums debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. Simmons even tried his hand at acting — who can forget his performance in "Belly" and "Romeo Must Die"? Simply iconic.

Growing up in Yonkers, New York, DMX became addicted to crack cocaine after being introduced at 14 by a local rapper named Ready Ron (via Hot97). What he thought was marijuana, was actually crack, and thus began his lifelong battle with addiction. "I later found out that he laced the blunt with crack," DMX told rapper Talib Kweli in an interview with "Uproxx." "Why would you do that to a child?" 

DMX left his mark on the world with his incredible story and music. DMX was also believed to have fathered 15 children that he left behind, along with fiancée Desiree Lindstrom.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).


Coolio was 32 years old when he recorded "Gangsta's Paradise," and quickly became a household name. Growing up in Compton, California, life wasn't always easy for Coolio (via The Washington Post). Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., he dealt with drug addiction and unfortunately got caught up in some criminal activity, yet he Coolio did manage to turn his life around, and eventually even won a Grammy Award. 

He was vocal about cleaning up his life and making something of himself; he attributed this to becoming a volunteer firefighter in the mid 90's. Coolio also credited his success to his mama. A 1997 interview with the Independent is particularly quirky, as he reflects on growing up with his mother in Compton. "She taught me every board game and every f***ing card game you could think of. When I was ten years old, she'd invite people over to play dominoes and she was hustling 'em. She let 'em win, and then she'd say: "You sorry mother***ers, you come here and me and my ten-year-old son'll whip your a**."

When Coolio died in September 2022, A-list celebrities like Michelle Pfeiffer (who starred in the film "Dangerous Minds," where "Gangsta's Paradise" was featured), remembered the rapper on Instagram. "I remember him being nothing but gracious ... Sending love and light to his family. Rest in Power, Artis Leon Ivey Jr."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Biggie Smalls

Biggie Smalls, born Christopher Wallace, in Brooklyn New York, sadly didn't live long enough to see how his music impacted so many generations. He was only 24 years old when he was gunned down in Los Angeles, in what is still considered an unsolved murder. According to the New York Post, many speculated that Marion "Suge" Knight of Death Row Records was responsible for his death.

As detailed by Biography, after several stints in jail for dealing drugs and possession of weapons, Biggie began rapping and freestyling in his Brooklyn neighborhood just for fun. He made a mixtape, and someone made sure that tape was brought to The Source magazine, eventually getting the attention of Sean Combs, aka Diddy. Combs eventually signed Biggie to Bad Boy Records, and off to the races they went, earning 4 Grammy nominations. The two remained close friends and collaborators until Biggie's death in 1997.

Everyone has a favorite Biggie song or lyric – whether you are 20 years old or 40 years old, this legendary rapper left the world his amazing musical legacy. "Birthdays was the worst days, now we sip champagne when we thirsty."

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in Harlem, New York, and earned top billing in the world of hip hop. In death, Shakur became even more of a rap legend. Like Biggie Smalls, he was taken from us entirely too soon; at the age of 25 and by the hands of a gunman (via Biography). Tupac attended the exclusive Baltimore School for the Arts in Maryland. Once his family moved to California, Tupac took to the streets to sell drugs and engage in other criminal activity, failing to graduate (he later earned his GED).

Having a background in the arts from his time in Baltimore (not to mention the gift of natural talent), the turning point for Tupac was in 1990, when he joined Digital Underground as a roadie and dancer, and later appearing on the group's album, "Sons of the P," per Biography. In 1991, he released his first solo album, "2Pacalypse Now."

 From there, 'Pac, as he was also affectionately known as, was on his way to the top — but not without some hiccups along the way. Tupac was in and out of prison, embracing his gang-affiliated lifestyle as he created music and art. This lifestyle provided the content for the music that made him so popular and engaging.  As the East and West Coast rivalries increased, Tupac was shot after leaving a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas in 1996 – he died from his injuries six days later (via Britannica). Tupac is best remembered for his incredible music, and acting roles in films like "Juice" and "Poetic Justice."