Rappers Who Tragically Passed Away In 2021

The following article contains references to suicide and addiction.

"The rap game isn't like any other industry," producer and collaborator of the late XXXTentacion, Jimmy Duval, told The Guardian in 2020. "There are a lot of guns and bullets flying around." At the time, many rap fans were understandably worried about how many of their favorite performers were "dying young," as the outlet put it, and were left looking for answers. 

As The Washington Post observed, the list of untimely deaths in the hip-hop world in recent years has been tragically long: Chicago emo rapper Juice WRLD had an overdose mere days after his 21st birthday in December 2019, Nipsey Hussle had been shot down in Los Angeles that March, and Pop Smoke was the victim of a violent home invasion the following February, to name just a few music stars who left us too soon.

Sadly, the tragedy kept coming in 2021, as old and new rappers alike have been added to that list. Established legends like DMX and Biz Markie had their final days in the hospital reported across the world, while the lives of young up-and-comers like 18veno and Baby CEO had been tragically cut short just as their careers were starting to break through in the competitive music industry. Keep reading to find out which rappers sadly passed away over the course of 2021.


The world was shocked in April 2021 when one of the most successful rappers of the late 1990s and early 2000s died: the Ruff Ryder himself, DMX. The rapper had fallen into a coma following a heart attack caused by cocaine use, before dying of multiple organ failure, according to Vulture.

"We are deeply saddened to announce today that our loved one, DMX, birth name of Earl Simmons, passed away at 50-years-old at White Plains Hospital with his family by his side after being placed on life support for the past few days," his family wrote in a statement published by CNN, calling their patriarch "a warrior who fought till the very end" for them. "He loved his family with all of his heart and we cherish the times we spent with him."

He had long been open with fans and reporters about struggling with addiction since an early age. "I just need to have a purpose," DMX — who revealed that he was happiest when he was "looking at [his youngest] son," Exodus — admitted in a 2019 interview with GQ. "And I don't even know that purpose, because God has given me that purpose since before I was in the womb, so I'm going to fulfill that purpose ... whether I want to or not, whether I know it or not, because the story has already been written. If you appreciate the good, then you have to accept the bad."

If you or anyone you know is struggling 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).

Gift of Gab

One half of Blackalicious died in June 2021, as Pitchfork reported: Bay Area icon Gift of Gab. The rapper, who was born Timothy Parker, was known for tongue-twisting songs like "Alphabet Aerobics." Alongside DJ and longtime friend Chief Xcel, whom he'd met in high school, he released game-changing EPs and albums like "Nia."

As Gift of Gab, whose health had declined in recent years, revealed in his self-titled documentary short in 2016, per Stereogum, he went on dialysis for his kidney failure in 2014. When his kidney problems returned in 2020, the rapper had a transplant, but he sadly died just a year later. His rap collective, Quaanum, paid tribute to him in a statement published by Pitchfork: "Tim peacefully departed this earth to be with our ancestors," they wrote, adding that he had left behind two brothers and one sister. "We ask that the family's privacy is respected as we mourn the tremendous loss of our dear brother."

"Our brother was an MC's MC who dedicated his life to his craft. One of the greatest to ever do it," Chief Xcel stated, insisting that Gift of Gab had a spiritual connection with his art. "He truly believed in the healing power of music." According to Pitchfork, he didn't leave Blackalicious fans without one last gift: the rapper had recorded "almost 100 tracks" before he died, which hadn't been released yet. "Some of those were already slated for the next release, but more of Gab's lyrical genius will be heard for years to come," a source told Rolling Stone.

Black Rob

New York rapper Black Rob was 52 when he died in April 2021, as AP News reported. He had a history of health problems and had been sent to an Atlanta hospital following a serious cardiac arrest, where fellow rapper and Bad Boy Records collaborator Mark Curry held his hand throughout his last moments.

Black Rob had risen to fame by working with Sean "Diddy" Combs, appearing on songs like "Bad Boy 4 Life" and joining his label. In 2000, he had his own hit with "Whoa!" — which became the New York City native's best-known solo track. "'Whoa!' carried us through a significant point of our time in hip-hop," his old friend, Curry, insisted, per AP News. "He always felt like he took the label on his back."

However, Black Rob's career took a dip after he was convicted and sent to jail for a 2004 hotel robbery (via Billboard). According to Curry, Diddy helped him out in the years following his brush with the law and even paid for Black Rob's funeral. "Rest in power, King," Diddy wrote in a since-deleted Instagram tribute (via Page Six). "You have made millions of people all over the world feel good and dance!"

Chucky Trill

In March 2021, Chucky Trill died after being fatally injured in a shocking highway shooting, per NME. The up-and-coming Houston rapper had burst into the spotlight when he released "Streets Don't Love a Soul" in 2018, which led to him releasing his own album and working with other artists like Lil KeKe, Propain, and Trapboy Freddy. His career was cut tragically short on March 5, however, when gunshots were heard on Interstate 85 near Atlanta at 3 in the morning.

Chucky Trill, 33, had been "shot at least once," according to NME, and police officers found him in his parked car struggling with a gunshot wound when they arrived on scene. He eventually died after being taken to the hospital to treat his injury, leading to widespread grief and anger from the Houston rap scene. 

His manager, Bone, told the Houston Chronicle that Chucky Trill had been visiting the area so that he could watch the NBA All-Stars Weekend. "He was very passionate about his music, very humble young dude," he continued, paying tribute to the rapper he had represented. "Just a good guy."

Baby CEO

Baby CEO had been a controversial presence in rap for years before his untimely death. The Memphis rapper, whose real name was Jonathan Brown, was only 14 when he burst onto the scene under the wing of his late mentor, Fredo Santana, per the New York Post. Baby CEO's young appearance shocked viewers in music videos like "FCK DA OPPZ," where the teenager was shown holding guns and rapping about gang violence. He was only 20 when he was tragically shot in January 2021, according to WMC Action News.

The rapper, who had later changed his stage name to Big CEO, died on the scene of a deadly brawl in Frayser, Tennessee. According to Metro, the musician's older brother was the one who announced his tragic death on Twitter. "My Lil Brother Baby Ceo Has Passed Away," his brother wrote in a since-deleted post (via Metro), beseeching fans to "Please Pray For Our Family." He went on to reflect that Baby CEO and his girlfriend had only recently become parents after welcoming a baby in November 2020, adding in a heartbreaking vow: "I Promise We Got Yo Son For Life."

Shock G

Fans of the Oakland rap group Digital Underground were devastated in April 2021 when frontman Shock G died in a Tampa hotel room following an accidental drug overdose, per TMZ. He was perhaps best known for the beloved 1989 song, "The Humpty Dance," which featured Shock G (born Gregory Jacobs) as his iconic alter ego, "Humpty Hump," as well as his history of working with Tupac Shakur. TMZ announced that the rapper was 57 at the time of his death.

It was later revealed that his cause of death had been a fentanyl, ethanol, and methamphetamine overdose, according to Deadline. Shock G had a history of drug addiction and had been involved in altercations with the police in the days before his death, as the Tampa Bay Times uncovered, but his sister, Elizabeth Racker, defended him as "a genius in his own way."

"Usually what comes along with that is, sometimes they struggle," Racker observed. "It just goes and proves that people with that caliber or skill sometimes struggle."

If you or anyone you know is struggling 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).

Edai 600

The world of Chicago Drill lost one of its brightest stars in August 2021 when Edai 600 was gunned down in his hometown. Known for songs like "Six Double O" and his 2012 remix of "Gucci" with Chief Keef, the rapper — born Cordai Ealy — was a member of the music label, Team 600 ENT. According to The Sun, the "600" group was named after a particular area code in Chicago, where they all grew up.

Police scanner recordings showed that Edai 600, who had a wife and daughter, had been shot in the back multiple times, per The Source. He later died in the hospital. As SKPop reported, fellow rappers like Young Dre Money and King Hittz reacted to the news on their social media accounts, sharing their shock and grief with their followers. The mom of fellow Chicago rapper FBG Duck, who was also shot and killed in 2020, lamented Edai 600's death at age 32 on Instagram, per The Sun. 

"Everybody gotta dieeeee damnn normalize growin up n being a granddaddy to yall kids children," she posted. "Tell them how u survived the trenches so they can want better. U good no more worries nor pain for God was ready for his child back."

Lil Loaded

Lil Loaded was emerging as a viral star for tracks like "6locc 6a6y" when the 20-year-old rapper met an early death in June 2021. BBC News reported that the Dallas rapper, whose real name was Dashawn Robertson, had died by suicide. His lawyer, Ashkan Mehryari, confirmed that his death was self-inflicted.

XXL revealed that it had been Lil Loaded's mother who had discovered her son's body in his home. She had been alarmed by his emotional state the previous night, as he had apparently been crying over a relationship. "I ask for entrance into your kingdom thru all of my mistakes I know you love all of your children and I'm ready for my heart and soul to Join you," the rapper, who was facing an upcoming trial over manslaughter charges, had cryptically posted on his Instagram Story prior to his death, causing concern from his fans. Lil Loaded also reportedly asked to be forgiven for his "shortcomings" from the "most high."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Lil Theze

In the last few years of his life, Lil Theze racked up hundreds of thousands of views on songs like "Hashtag" and "Gang," collaborating with rappers like Bandlife Birdy and Daboii. He made headlines in 2021, however, for a very different reason: the 20-year-old rapper was shot dead by a retired police officer during a clash at a gas station in Oakland, California.

The rapper, whose birth name was Desoni Gardner, was shown at the gas station in surveillance footage published by the San Francisco Chronicle. At around 1 in the afternoon, an alleged robbery turned into a shootout when the victim, former law enforcement official Ersie Joyner, took out his gun and shot Lil Theze. It turned into a shooting match on both sides, resulting in Joyner ending up in hospital.

According to the Vallejo Sun, the production company Star Quality Entertainment was the first to break the news on Instagram after the rapper died on the scene.

Prince Markie Dee

Prince Markie Dee was one of the most beloved figures in 1980s rap music, so it's no wonder that tributes began pouring in when the legendary member of the Fat Boys died at age 52 from congestive heart failure. As All Hip Hop reported, he had been dealing with health problems and ended up in a Miami hospital in February 2021, where his mother was able to reach him.

Fellow rapper Fat Joe remembered Prince Markie Dee's impact on the New York music scene. "I would be walking and all of a sudden I would hear music ricochet off the walls," he wrote on Instagram, adding that "Fat Boys" was "the first song they would play at the block party to summon you to appear." Fat Joe also described Prince Markie D as "a great guy a Legend and pioneer," telling him: "God bless my fellow Boriqua brother till we meet again."

"They were figuratively (no weight jokes) the biggest act in hip hop at some point in time," Questlove recalled on his Instagram, alongside an early clip of the group. "Like the first act that showed this culture might have some real international legs to it."

Double K

Double K left fans of underground rap bereft in January 2021 when the rapper and producer behind "People Under The Stairs" died at 43, as NPR reported. He was a Los Angeles native who had formed a group with fellow rapper Thes One and started releasing funk-influenced albums in the '90s.

DJ Mark Luv announced the news on Instagram. "Today I lost a friend," he sadly told his followers in a video. "Michael Turner, aka Double K." He went on to reveal that the rapper had "passed away peacefully" in his sleep and share some good memories, like the fact that Double K and his wife had been the ones to help him out when he was homeless on the streets. "We're all hurting," he later admitted. "The pain that we have to suffer is ridiculous."

Chuck D of Public Enemy also showed his respect for Double K on Twitter, calling him "a great young man" who was "dedicated to the craft" and committed to making music. "Gone too soon. His aunt happened to be a good friend of mine & he comes from good folk," Chuck D added.


Up-and-coming rapper 18veno (born Paul Harts) was only 19 years old when he was shot and killed in South Carolina. As Pitchfork reported, he was officially pronounced dead at the Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill on January 23, 2021.

He had begun to find fame in the world of Southern trap that he loved, releasing an EP and an album in 2020. "I grew up on some Gucci Mane, Yo Gotti, Young Jeezy — that was what my mama played in the car," 18veno told Lyrical Lemonade in an interview, adding that he had been rapping since "third or fourth grade." He also spoke about how music inspired him to keep "staying out of trouble," recalling that he "just had to learn how to be a grown man" after a few visits to jail.

In February 2021, Complex reported that two men had been arrested and charged in connection to the shooting. "After weeks of diligent investigation, our detectives believe these are the people responsible for the unnecessary death of Paul Harts," Sheriff Kevin Tolson stated.

Biz Markie

Beloved beatboxer and rapper Biz Markie, often known as the "clown prince of hip hop," died in July 2021 due to complications with diabetes, per NPR.

Biz Markie first became a fixture of the New York hip-hop scene in the 1980s, alongside acts like the Juice Crew and the Beastie Boys, before releasing the iconic song, "Just a Friend," which bemoaned his lack of luck in the romance department. He had been hospitalized several times over the previous year, according to TMZ, and his diabetes worsened before he was admitted to a hospital in Baltimore, where his wife could be with him.

"We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time," a representative stated to TMZ, observing that Biz Markie had "created a legacy of artistry that will forever be celebrated by his industry peers and his beloved fans whose lives he was able to touch through music, spanning over 35 years." They also said that the late rapper was survived by "a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter."