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Another Top 10 Rappers Who Died Too Soon

VO: Rebecca Brayton
These rappers molded pop culture but tragically passed away at a young age. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for Another Top 10 Rappers Who Died Too Soon. For this list, we’re focusing on well-known rappers whose deaths shook fans, along with the music industry. While 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. are the most famous examples, we’ve excluded them as they were included on our original 2016 list. Like our videos? Head over to WatchMojo.comsuggest to submit your own video ideas today!
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Another Top 10 Rappers Who Died Too Soon


These rappers molded pop culture but tragically passed away at a young age. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for Another Top 10 Rappers Who Died Too Soon.

For this list, we’re focusing on well-known rappers whose deaths shook fans, along with the music industry. While 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. are the most famous examples, we’ve excluded them as they were included on our original 2016 list.

#10: Chinx

Also from Queens, New York, this MC is known for his association with French Montana. Back in 2009, Chinx (formerly known, perhaps too on-the-nose, as Chinx Drugz) appeared on records with the Coke Boys, and established himself with a flurry of well-received mixtapes. Just as the 31-year-old’s career seemed to take off, he was gunned down in a 2015 drive-by in his native Queens, years after his friend and fellow MC, Stack Bundles, was also murdered. Lionel Pickens, aka Chinx, left a mark on the New York rap scene and was on a trajectory to join French Montana as a prominent fixture in pop culture.

#9: Mac Dre

This northern California rapper dropped his debut album in the early ‘90s and later recorded vocals from a jailhouse phone while serving time. After his 1996 release, Mac Dre contributed to the Bay Area Hyphy movement, releasing multiple albums through 2004. Soon after, Dre (real name Andre Hicks) and his Thizz Entertainment squad squabbled with concert promoters in Kansas City, which prompted an early morning highway attack that ended with the rapper’s death at age 34. Without the influence of this iconic Bay Area MC, the region’s hip-hop scene would not be the same.

#8: Prodigy

When this Mobb Deep member passed away in 2017, he was unsurprisingly remembered as a hip-hop legend. Like fellow Queens native Phife Dawg, Prodigy had life-long health issues – in his case, sickle cell anemia. Albert Johnson, aka Prodigy, was still a teenager when he and Havoc released their 1993 debut, and their 1995 single “Shook Ones Part II” was famously featured in the Eminem film “8 Mile.” With his gritty flow, Prodigy inspired a new school of New York MCs, but he tragically died at age 42 after reportedly choking on an egg while in the hospital for anemia-related complications.

#7: Heavy D

Born in Jamaica and raised in New York, this man was responsible for putting Uptown Records on the map. With his group Heavy D & The Boyz, Dwight Myers, aka Heavy D, also brought hip-hop to the mainstream with his guest spot on Janet Jackson’s single “Alright.” Musically, Heavy D could always get the party started, and he also had a knack for recognizing emerging talent, most notably a young entrepreneur named Sean Combs, who landed an intern gig at Uptown. After some time out of the spotlight, Heavy D re-emerged with his old crew in 2011, only to pass away soon after from a pulmonary embolism. Heavy D – a prominent fixture of early ‘90s rap - was only 44.

#6: Nate Dogg

In the ‘80s, this vocalist formed a lifelong bond with Snoop Doggy Dogg and Warren G. Later known as 213, the crew reached the mainstream after hooking up with Dr. Dre; and it was Nate Dogg’s vocals and lyrical flow that became synonymous with G-Funk.  Though he did release several solo albums, Nate achieved fame for his guest spots on ’90s classics like Warren G’s massive “Regulate.” He wasn’t just a trendy artist, either, as he collaborated with top artists through the mid-2000s. Then, in 2011, rap lost an icon when Nathaniel Hale passed away in his native Long Beach at age 41.


#5: Bankroll Fresh

When this Atlanta native hit the scene in 2014, he worked with top names like Gucci Mane and the hitmaker known as Metro Boomin. After releasing numerous mixtapes, Bankroll Fresh recorded his studio debut, “In Bank We Trust,” and even landed a role in the film “Take Over Your Trap.” Like that, Bankroll, aka Trentavious White Sr., was in line to become the next ATL rap star. But in a 2016 altercation with rapper No Plug, Bankroll lost his life outside Atlanta’s Street Execs studio. At only 28 years old, the rapper became another victim of gun-related violence.

#4: Capital Steez

In 2012, this Brooklyn rapper dropped his first mixtape, “AmeriKKKan Korruption.” It wasn’t just any mixtape, though, as Capital Steez attracted an all-star list of producers for the event, and it was a hip-hop event. He was a spiritual person; a young entrepreneur who created his own movement by founding the rap collective Pro Era with fellow underground rapper and friend Joey Bada$$.  But this uplifting story turned tragic as Courtney Dewar, Jr. – only 19 and one of rap’s most promising talents – took his own life by jumping from the rooftop of a Manhattan building. R.I.P.

#3: Pimp C

In the early to mid ‘90s, this southern rapper earned major hip-hip cred as a member of UGK aka Underground Kings. With his ultra laid-back style and party-friendly lyrics, Pimp C became a defining figure of the era, and hit the mainstream when he appeared on Jay-Z’s 2000 hit “Big Pimpin” with his partner Bun B. Pimp C later spent nearly four years in Texas prisons. His story took an even worse turn after his release when the 33-year-old was found dead in a Hollywood hotel in 2007. His death was ascribed primarily to an accidental overdose of cough sizzurp.

#2: Lil Peep

This heavily-tattooed rapper, real name Gustav Åhr, appeared to be on the verge of pop culture superstardom. For some, Lil Peep was already there, given his massive popularity, influence and eclectic, emo-influenced style. But just months after releasing his debut album, “Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 1,” Lil Peep was found dead in his tour bus during a stop in Tucson, Arizona. An overdose was the cause of death for the 21-year-old, which led friends and fans to reassess Peep’s image and the dangerous role of prescription drugs in pop and hip hop culture.

Before we unveil our #1 pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Phife Dawg

Fredo Santana

Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly  

#1: XXXTentacion


It was thanks to a stint in juvenile detention for gun possession charges that this Florida-born rapper was inspired to turn to music. After clicking with fellow inmate and rapper Ski Mask the Slump God, Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy released his first official song under XXXTentacion during his mid-teens. However, Onfroy's short life would be marred by controversy, including an arrest, concert violence, a provocative music video and more. Then on June 18, 2018, the 20-year-old was shot to death in a suspected robbery attempt. Fortunately, his musical legacy, which includes two Top 2 studio albums and a chart-topping single, as well as his generous nature, ensure he won't soon be forgotten.  
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