List of Murdered American Rappers
Ever since hip hop music became popular in the latter part of the 1970s, it gave many a rapper fortune and fame. However, with the wealth and popularity it gave some, it sadly also led to their premature death. In this post, SMF lists the most notable hip hop artists who died through homicide. The youngest victim in our list was 19 whereas the oldest was 44 when murdered.
List of Murdered American Rappers
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the list of the notable hip hop musicians who were murdered in the course of their careers.
Scott La Rock
Scott La Rock was a rapper, music producer and DJ best known for being a founding member of hip hop group Boogie Down Productions (BDP). On August 27, 1987, in New York City, Scott La Rock was shot in the head while trying to settle an altercation between BDP member and another group. He was rushed to the Lincoln Hospital in a critical condition. He died about an hour later in the hospital’s operating room. He was 25 years old at the time of his tragic death.
A number of men were arrested and arraigned before court for the murder of Scott La Rock. However, they were eventually acquitted.
Danny Rodriguez (also known as D-Boy Rodriguez) was an American Christian hip hop artist. Rodriguez’s debut album titled Plantin’ a Seed came out in 1989. On October 6, 1990 Rodriguez was shot while coming out of his apartment in Dallas, Texas. He died instantly. Till date, authorities have neither found the culprits behind his murder nor the motive.
Some have said Rodriguez’s murder was as a result of an attempted robbery. Others said it was just a clear case of a mistaken identity. Whatever the motive was, it is likely the world would never know. Rodriquez was just 22 years when he met his violent death.
Charizma was a California based rapper who gained national recognition as the other half of the duo Peanut Butter Wolf. On December 16, 1993, Charizma’s life and career were cut short when he was tragically shot and killed in a mugging incident in East Palo Alto, California. Ironically, the mugging took place just near a church. That very day, Charizma’s murderer was identified and arrested. Charizma was just 20 when he was brutally murdered.
Randy Walker was a Queens, New York based rapper and record producer professionally known by the name Stretch. He was a member of the hip hop group Live Squad. The group gained fame for their collaborations with rapper Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G (Biggie).
Stretch went on to become close friends with Tupac and Biggie. Stretch met his untimely death on November 30, 1995 in a drive-by shooting. He was only 27 years old. A number of stories were birthed shortly after Stretch’s death. One such story was that Tupac (who in 1994 had a falling out with him) was involved in his murder. Another common story was that Stretch was murdered by drug dealer whom he (Stretch) had earlier robbed.
Seagram was a hip hop recording artist hailing from Oakland, California. Seagram gained nationwide recognition through his many collaborations with the rap group the Geto Boys. On July 31, 1996, Seagram met his untimely death in a drive-by shooting. He was 26. His murderer or murderers were never found.
Seagram’s third and last studio album Souls on Ice was posthumously released by his management in 1997
Tupac Shakur is still considered by many to be the greatest rap artist of all time, even though he was murdered over 20 years ago. Hailing from the streets of Los Angeles, he rose to fame not only due to his ability to write hit songs so diverse that they ranged in subject matter from honoring mothers to murdering enemies but also as being the first rapper who could also serve as a credible actor, with movies he starred in such as Poetic Justice receiving critical acclaim.
Tupac Shakur was imprisoned for sexual assault in 1993 and eventually bailed out in 1995 by the infamous Suge Knight – a well-known Los Angeles gang member who is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for murder – and as such signed with Knight’s record label, Deathrow Record. This allegiance, largely fuelled by having a common enemy in Bad Boy Records, propelled Tupac into a life of dangerous misadventures he could not get out of. Tupac was ultimately murdered on 13 September 1996 while riding in a car with Suge in Las Vegas. Although the case has never been solved by police, it is generally believed he was murdered by Orlando Anderson, a member of a rival Los Angeles gang and whose associate Tupac and his homeys had assaulted earlier in the evening.
Due to close family ties Yaki Kadafi is known as the cousin of Tupac Shakur, even though they are not blood related. When Tupac got out of prison in 1995 he formed a rap crew called “the Outlaw Immortalz”, of which Kadafi was arguably the most-recognizable member. One of the primary goals of this group was to publicly back Tupac Shakur in his beef well-publicized, money-generating beef with Bad Boy Records and its star, the Notorious B.I.G.
Shortly after Tupac was murdered in Las Vegas, Yaki Kadafi was also gunned down in his home State of New Jersey. Although it has now come to light that the murder was an accident perpetrated by the relative of another member of the Outlawz, at the time it actually occurred the rumor circulating on the streets was that it was a hit.
The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls), hailing from Brooklyn, New York, was born with the gift to compose easy-to-follow hit rap verses, and once he teamed up with legendary music producer Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, the rest is history. The two of them were the core of the highly-successful Bad Boy Records in the mid-1990’s. In fact they were so successful that their names became synonymous with East Coast rap, and P. Diddy is still profiting to this day from his association with Biggie helping to get Bad Boy off the ground even though Notorious passed away over 20 years ago.
Despite the fact that Notorious’ and P. Diddy’s Bad Boy Records had a beef with Tupac Shakur’s and Suge Knight’s Deathrow Record that was so well publicized and influential that it became known as “East Coast vs. West Coast”, B.I.G. still had the wherewithal to put himself in a highly-vulnerable position by visiting Los Angeles, the capitol of Death Row Records. While there on 9 March 1997, just a few short months after his rival Tupac Shakur was murdered, Biggie was also fatally wounded by gunfire. Although the case remains unsolved, the general belief is that the murderer had a direct connection to Suge Knight and thus Deathrow Records.
Fat Pat was a well-recognized rapper hailing from Houston, Texas, one of the first rappers from that part of the States to really make a name for himself. Unfortunately part of his claim to fame is due to his untimely death at the age of 27 in 1998. As is a common theme in the unsolved rap murder cases it is rumoured that Fat Pat was actually executed by a trusted associate, who though never convicted of murder has served prison time on unrelated drug charges. Fat Pat’s younger brother, rapper Big Hawk, was also murdered some years later, with some suggesting that his slaying was also tied to that of his older brother almost a decade earlier.
Big L was a rapper from New York City who, despite his profound lyrical skills, was known more as an underground than mainstream artist. He was also known on the streets for not being afraid to publicly criticize other more-prominent rappers. Though murdered back in 1999 the case still remains unsolved, with the two popular theories being he was either killed by a childhood friend or accidentally killed, being mistaken for his older brother. Though never overwhelmingly-popular during his lifetime, Big L’s posthumous career has been more notable as since he has become somewhat of a rap-industry idol.
Freaky Tah was a member of the innovative Queens, New York rap group the “Lost Boyz” who were a hit in the mid to late 1990’s. Tah was killed in his hometown in 1999 at the age of 27 in a case of mistaken identity that was fuelled by a murderous beef between the Lost Boyz and another virtually-unknownrap crew. The Lost Boyz were well on their way to becoming one of the most-successful groups in rap history, but Freaky Tah’s death was a setback they never fully recovered from.
Bugz was one of the founding members of Detroit-based rap group D12 who unfortunately was killed in 1999 before they truly rose to fame due to the mega-success of one of their members, Eminem. Another member of D12, Proof, was also murdered some seven years later. The fact that Bugz’s murder, which occurred in a premiere Detroit public park during a picnic, is said to have been initiated in a dispute concerning a water gun shows how dangerous the neighborhoods some of these rappers come from truly are.
DJ Uncle Al
DJ Uncle Al was a disc jockey from Miami who was popular in his region, largely due to his advocacy of peace in inner-city neighborhoods. He was murdered at his doorstep in 2001 at the age of 32 in an unsolved case in which one neighbor has said Uncle Al was actually mistaken for the hitmen’s true target. Though an arrest was made in the case in 2007 the charge never stuck. DJ Uncle Al was beloved by his peers and the community and as such is still memorialized annually with a Miami-based festival based on his legacy.
Jam Master Jay
Jam Master Jay was the DJ for the legendary rap group Run DMC, with the trio being credited for being the first hip-hop artists to truly break the mainstream barrier that before limited rappers to underground artists. Jam Master Jay’s murder in 2002 at the age of 37 at a music studio in Queens, Run-DMC’s hometown, shocked the rap community not only because Jay wasn’t known as a gangster but also because it was the first and really only time one of rap music’s popular elder statesman, who generally stay out of trouble, had been murdered. Though the case has yet to be solved the two popular theories surrounded the murder are it was either debt related or due to a beef Jay was indirectly involved in through association with 50 Cent.
Sabotage was a rapper who grew up as a drug dealer on the gritty streets of Brooklyn – New Brooklyn, Brazil that is – a suburb of São Paulo. Sabotage is legendary in the Brazilian hip-hop scenes not only due to his proficiency as a rapper but also the fact that he was murdered in 2003 at the age of 29. No arrests were ever made in his murder.
Camoflauge is one of the few successful rappers to hail from Savannah, Georgia. Though only living to the tender age of 21, he was successful enough as an independent artist to eventually start his own thriving record label. While walking with his one-year old son outside of his own recording studio in 2003, Camo was gunned down. Though his death is unsolved it is generally believed to be a retaliation killing for another murder he was implicated in and even arrested for earlier, which is consistent with the fact that the gunman didn’t care to shot at him even though he was with an infant.
Half a Mil
Half a Mil originates from the infamous housing projects of Brooklyn, New York, which has produced many other successful rappers. Though Half a Mil never achieved mainstream success, he was a promising artist who had worked with some A-list acts. Half a Mil was gunned down in those self-same projects in 2003 at the age of 30. Fortunately for his legacy he was able to successfully complete filming an independent documentary, which was released in 2010, before his demise. It appears as no arrests were ever made in Half a Mil’s murder case.
Soulja Slim, a New Orleans native, hails from the rap era of the 1990’s when No Limit Records was a dominant force on the hip-hop scene. Despite having nationwide notoriety since the 1990’s, Soulja Slim didn’t achieve A-level fame until 2003 when his track “Slow Motion” in collaboration with rapper Juvenile was released. Unfortunately for Soulja he did not live to witness his own ascension as he was gunned down earlier that year in the front yard of his mother’s home. The primary witness in the case evaded prison time due to lack of a witness yet was found murdered almost 10 years later with injuries to the same body parts Soulja Slim was shot in.
Mac Dre was a nationally-known name from Oakland who helped put West Coast rap on the map. He had genuine street credibility as he had been incarcerated for four years in a case in which he would not give up his accomplices. Mac Dre was murdered in Kansas City in 2004 at the age of 34. The beef that caused is either believed to been a money dispute or a beef with Kansas City rapper Fat Tone, who himself was killed in 2005 in what many believe to be revenge for the slaying of Mac Dre.
Blade Icewood, a Detroit-based rapper, was murdered in his hometown in 2005 at the age of 28. At the time he was already paralyzed from the chest downward due to an assassination attempt in his own home he suffered in 2004. The two shootings of Blade Icewood are believed to be related to a beef between rappers from the east and west sides of Detroit. There was an arrest made in his case, with the convicted currently serving life in person.
Proof is the second rapper from Detroit’s D12 to make this list and is a lot more popular than his counterpart, Bugz, as he is well-known as the former personal hype man for Eminem, meaning he would often personally accompany Em on stage during the latter’s solo performances. Proof was murdered in 2006 at the age of 32 at a nightclub in his hometown over a beef that started over a game of pool in which another participant besides Proof was also shot dead.
Big Hawk’s death in 2006 at the age of 36 in his hometown of Houston, Texas remains a mystery not only due to lack of evidence but also lack of a reliable motive as he was generally known to be a peaceful family man. However some have speculated that his slaying is related to that of his younger brother and fellow rapper Fat Pat, who was also murdered in Houston almost a decade earlier.
VL Mike was gunned down in his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana during 2008 at the age of 32. Though his death will probably never be solved, it is generally believed to be part of a beef he had with fellow rapper and former business associate B.G.
Unlike most rappers on this list who died in their hometowns, Dolla, though hailing from Atlanta, was murdered in Los Angeles in 2009 at the age of 21. Recently before his death he had been signed by Akon’s record label and in fact was in Los Angeles to record his debut album. There was an arrest made in Dolla’s murder, but the defendant was able to walk free using a self-defense argument. Part of the defense’s strategy was using lyrics from Dolla’s tracks and images from his videos to successfully portray him as a violent gangster.