The number of rappers that died in 2022—particularly those who had yet to fully flourish before meeting untimely fates—was nothing short of soul-crushing. With so many young lives lost, some as young as 15, Hip Hop continued to feel like, in the words of GZA, a deadly video game with just one man. With ambitions of success and social media clout seemingly overriding a desire to use platforms to better their situations, rapping remained one of the most dangerous professions in America this year.
It is heartbreaking to realize that despite achieving success, remaining a part of the popular street-centric culture, often rife with jealousy, leaves rappers with targets on their backs, like antelopes in lion enclosures (as we saw with Takeoff and PNB Rock).
Although beyond the gun smoke, the culture once lost more legends this year from health-related causes; DJ Kay Slay from COVID-19, Coolio from cardiac arrest and Hurricane G from cancer—not to mention whose cause of death was not revealed, like Tame One and Grand Daddy I.U.
HipHopDX has once again compiled an tragically long, annual round-up not only recognizing the legends of we’ve but (more depressingly) the younger and less established acts who never saw their full potential. On a somber note, here are the rappers who died in 2022.
28-year-old TakeOff, one-third of the Grammy-nominated, Atlanta-based group Migos, died on November 1 after being shot three times outside of 810 Billiards & Bowling in Houston, Texas, where he was attending a private function with his uncle—and fellow Migo—Quavo. Following an altercation that didn’t involve him, multiple shots rang out, leaving the rapper slain and two others injured.
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While initially thought to have been a case of the rapper catching stray shots, The Harris County medical examiner ruled the shooting a homicide days later. Patrick Xavier Clark has since been charged with the murder and is currently being held on a $1 million bond.
Philly rapper PnB Rock’s life ended on September 12, when he was shot and killed in a deadly robbery while having lunch with his girlfriend, Stephanie Sibounheuang, at a Los Angeles location of Roscoe’s House of Chicken’ N Waffles.
Originally thought to be the result of Sibounheuang revealing their location in an Instagram story, it was later revealed that Freddie Lee Trone (and his underage son) targeted the rapper when they saw him enter the restaurant wearing jewellery. The two, along with Trone’s wife, have all been given numerous charges related to the killing.
DJ Kay Slay
DJ Kay Slay, a Hip Hop fixture, mixtape legend and legendary radio personality (whose presence in the culture dates back to the iconic 1983 documentary Style Wars), passed away on April 17 after a four-month battle with COVID-19.
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He first caught the pandemic virus in January, at one point rumored to be on a ventilator; however, his brother shot down that claim, noting that Slay did have another machine helping him breathe at one point. He also gave the news that the DJ had begun to show signs of recovery, giving way to a collective sigh of relief.
However, despite positive progress, he struggled to get back to 100%, eventually succumbing to complications from the virus. He was 55 years old.
Hurricane G, a well-respected, pioneering Boricua MC, passed away on November 6. Months earlier, it was announced that the Brooklyn native was gracefully and optimistically battling Stage 4 lung cancer–a diagnosis revealed on the Facebook page of her daughter Lexus, whom she parented with iconic MC/producer Erick Sermon.
The First Lady of Sermon’s Def Squad, G rose to prominence in the 90s, appearing on classic albums by Redman, Erick Sermon, Keith Murray (and others) before dropping her debut LP, All Woman, which featured the top-10 hit “Somebody Else.” She was 52 years old at the time of her death.
As part of a one-two gut punch, on November 6 Hip Hop also lost New Jersey legend Tame One, a famed graffiti artist and one-half of The Artifacts. Along with MC El Da Sensei and DJ Kaos, he first broke out in 1994 with the highly revered classic single “Wrong Side of da Tracks.”
Cousin of his state’s most acclaimed Hip Hop export, Redman, Tame’s career had seen many chambers. There was the break-up and later reunion with El Da Sensei, with whom he still performed (as recently as this past March), his work with The Weathermen and his solo efforts (among other projects). His cause of death has not been released; he was 52 years old.
The battle tap community was devastated following the news that 36-year-old Canadian MC Pat Stay, who first made his debut in the Toronto-based King of the Dot (KOTD) battle rap league, had been killed in his hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The rapper was fatally stabbed after trying to stop a fight inside the downtown bar Yacht Club Social on September 4. He was rushed to the Halifax Infirmary but was pronounced dead soon after.
Following his death, there was an outpouring of love from industry titans, including Eminem, who dubbed him one of the greatest battle rappers of all time. He leaves behind two children and a common-law spouse.
DJ 50 Grand
Every legend has an origin story, and for the Notorious BIG, that story included a then 21-year-old DJ 50 Grand, who started working with the iconic rapper when he was just 15. An infamous demo tape recorded in the DJ’s basement was put in the hands of Mister Cee, who shared it with journalist Matty C, director of The Source Magazine’s once coveted Unsigned Hype column. That appearance in The Source put the Brooklyn MC on the radar of a then-unknown Sean Combs.
Considering just how much Biggie would ultimately mean to the culture of Hip Hop, widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time, 50 Grand’s contribution deserves as many flowers as possible. His cause of death was not released; he was 55 years old.
Grand Daddy I.U.
After a year of heavy loss, it was revealed on December 13 that former Cold Chillin’ rapper and member of the storied Juice Crew collective, Grand Daddy I.U., had passed away peacefully in his sleep. His career began when he was signed by the late Biz Markie, who served as the sole credited produced on his 1990 debut LP Smooth Assassin, which included the Billboard hits “Something New” and “Sugar Free.”
He released a sophomore effort before taking a hiatus from rap, returning years later, and dropping a handful of albums and singles. Though not celebrated as such, I.U. was also an accomplished ghostwriter (working within the Juice Crew circle) and producer, working with not only names like Heltah Skeltah and Ice-T but composing all his own projects following his debut. His final LP was 2020’s The Essence. He was 54 years old.
In an interview, Coolio–who began his career as a member of WC and the Maad Circle–once said he would be able to perform off the strength of his timeless international smash “Gangsta’s Paradise” well into his sixties. Though his untimely death on June 7 at 59 years old ensured that it wouldn’t come to fruition, he did remain active until his end. Sadly, he suffered cardiac arrest in the bathroom of a friend’s home days before he was scheduled to perform as part of the “I Love the ’90s” tour (his final performance occurred just days earlier).
His catalog had many hits; however, the Doug Rasheed-produced “Gangsta’s Paradise” remained his cultural apex, widely regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time. The West Coast legend and one-time reality TV star, who released eight solo albums throughout his career, left behind four children.
ATL rapper Trouble was fatally shot on the morning of June 7, in the East Atlanta suburb of Conyers. The gunman, who later turned himself in, was the abusive ex-partner of the woman who owned the home where the rapper was killed. The two had split a week prior, and the shooter (upon finding his ex in bed with Trouble) shot and killed him following a brief altercation.
The ATL MC first earned nationwide attention for the nitro-hot single “Bussin'”—before landing features with acts like Young Thug, Killer Mike and Lupe Fiasco, Drake, The Weeknd, Gucci Mane and Quavo, among others. His buzz landed him a deal Mike Will Made It’s Ear Drummer Records (Interscope Records) in 2017, and he later signed with Def Jam in 2019. His debut (and final) studio LP on the iconic imprint, Thug Luv, was released in 2020. He was 34 years old at the time of his death.
Death Row Record’s first lady, Jewell, passed away on May 8, just months after she revealed on her Instagram that doctors found had discovered 8 pounds of fluid on her heart, lungs and legs. She was 53 years of age.
She famously began her career appearing on classic West Coast albums. Most notable are Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Snoop’s Doggystyle and 2pac’s diamond-selling All Eyez on Me. Though, in her later career had pivoted to faith-based gospel music as a singer-songwriter. As revealed in a statement to Entertainment Tonight by her manager Timothy Beal, she had been working on a big comeback.
One of the game’s most well-respected hip-hop managers Jonathan “Hovain” Hylton passed away in his home on November 26; the heartbreaking news was announced via his Instagram account, though the cause of death was not disclosed. A veteran hip-hop manager–and the president of management at Cinematic Music Group–the industry vet had worked with legendary names like Cam’Ron, Jim Jones, Styles P, Lloyd Banks, T-Pain and Hip Hop’s most highly revered engineer, Young Guru. His track record was next-level.
“A pillar of New York hip hop, of hip hop in general, just a good guy,” wrote A-Trak, one of the many to memorialize Hovain via social media.
The future looked bright for 2022 XXL Freshman and Gucci Mane signee/collaborator Big Scarr, who was set to join Key Glock on his 31-stop tour in 2023. Unfortunately, his career–and life–was cut short on December 22 when he was found dead at his girlfriend’s house in Memphis. Police initially declined to share his cause of death, though his uncle,Arthur Woods, later revealed his death to be the result of a fatal overdose of prescription pain pills. He was only 22 years old.
Indiana MC Lil Devin suffered a gruesome fate on New Year’s Eve after several opps–donned in black ski masks–stormed a party he was holding at his family home. Hit in the chest and head, he succumbed to his injuries in the ambulance before making it to the hospital. He was 24 years old.
Wavy Navy Pooh
“MIAMI (Murder Is A Major Issue)” rapper Wavy Navy Pooh was murdered while driving near The Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens on January 17. After stopping at Southwest 152nd Street and 127th Avenue, a gray four-door Lexus pulled up with someone inside who fired the fatal shots.
Less than 24 hours after signing his first recording contract, Brooklyn MC TDott Woo was shot in the head and left knee in a drive-by shooting in the same neighbourhood where he grew up on February 1; he was pronounced dead at the hospital hours later.
Memphis rapper Snootie Wild was found dead in Houston, Texas, ditch next to an SUV with a gunshot wound in his neck on March 1. According to Houston PD, he accidentally backed the car off the road; another vehicle pulled up, and after a brief exchange, one shot rang out.
Bubbling Maryland artist Goonew was fatally shot in a car park in Prince George’s County, Maryland on March 18, dying hours later in a local hospital. A Washington area club later caught controversy during a celebration of the rapper’s life, in which his body was hoisted on stage as fans danced nearby.
“Nameless” rapper Lil Keed had complained to his friends and family about severe stomach pain before checking into an LA hospital; however, things quickly escalated as his liver and kidneys failed, ultimately leading to his death on May 13.
Rapper JayDaYoungan was fatally ambushed by shooters on July 27 while sitting in the front yard of his Louisiana home with his father; A black truck pulled up, and three people hopped out with guns. Jay attempted to run inside the house but was struck at least eight times. His father was hit twice in the arm.
Minutes after taunting his critics on social media, bubbling Florida rapper Rollie Bands was killed outside his Tampa home. “If a n**** want smoke, I’m at my crib in 5 mins,” he wrote on Instagram and–five minutes later–he was allegedly shot once in the parking lot of his apartment complex.
Los Angeles drill rapper MoneyGangVontae was shot in New York, where he was set to perform, on June 9. Following an Insta post of the rapper in The Bronx showing off a chain, he was later chased into Amazing Pharmacy on E. Tremont Ave. by a group of men attempting to rob him. The rapper was subsequently shot in the chest; despite being rushed to a nearby hospital, he died from the wounds.
FBG Cash was driving with a sleeping woman on June 10 when a Cadillac cut him off in the 1600 block of West 81st Street in Chicago, and two people got out and began shooting; Cash returned fire and ran from the shooters but eventually fell to the ground.
UK rapper Hypo, well-known for joints like “Flex on My X,” “First Night,” and “No L’s”–and most notably his collaboration with Jamaican DJ Popcaan in 2018 (“Run These Streets”)–was stabbed to death on June 3 in London. The incident occurred during one of the many parties across East London to mark the late Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the throne. He was reportedly surrounded by “a large number of people.”
Sidhu Moose Wala
Popular Indian rapper Moose Wala was assassinated on May 29 in Jawaharke village in the Mansa district. The Lawrence Bishnoi gang initially claimed responsibility for the murder in an unverified Facebook post. En route to his aunt’s house in Barnala, his SUV was blocked by two cars that fired 30 rounds, killing the rapper and injuring two other men.
“We Ready” rapper Archie Eversole was shot while in his own home, later found by authorities with a gunshot wound in his face at a Chevron gas station just east of Atlanta on March 25. He eventually died at a hospital on April 3. It’s unclear how he got to the gas station from his bed; however, his brother, Alexander Kraus, 41, was arrested and subsequently charged with his murder.
Lotta Cash Desto
Lil Uzi Vert-affiliated rapper Lotta Cash Desto was killed in Houston, Texas on September 24. A 4-door sedan pulled alongside her Porsche at a red light, and two men exchanged gunfire with the rapper, who was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at the scene. One of the shooters was found in a nearby parking lot with a gunshot wound to the stomach. Another shooter is still on the loose.
Texas rapper B.F.G. Straap died in a hospital on September 22 after being shot in the 2800 block of Casey St. in South Dallas, along with another 26-year-old victim who was pronounced dead at the scene. LD The Manager, B.F.G. Straap’s manager, confirmed the rapper’s death on social media.
Rapper Earl Swavey was driving a car carrying multiple passengers when someone outside a party returned fire that came from his vehicle, striking him in the back and causing him to crash into a parked motorhome on January 9. A copper bullet was found lodged in his heart.
D.M.V. rapper 23 Rackz was shot dead in Washington, DC May 26 while he was shooting a music video on the 2200 block of Savannah Terrace. Moments before the 16-year-old was gunned down, he posted an Instagram story that shared his location. Reports say that the police were offering a $25,000 reward for information that led to the killer being caught.
18-year-old UK MC Dimzordimma was stabbed on the seventh floor of an Enfield apartment building on February 7. Neighbors reported the teenager being chased by an attacker with a machete through the communal area of the block. A 14-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the attack.
According to local news outlets, Stockton rapper Young Slo-Be was found dead in an apartment near West Center Street and Trevino Avenue in Manteca, California, on August 5. The artist recently went viral on TikTok with the song “I Love You,” which has had more than 19.6k videos made with the sound.
23-year-old Compton rapper Kee Riches was shot down in the 14th block of South Chester Avenue in South Central LA, along with two other victims–a male and a female. Kee and the other man were pronounced dead at the scene, though the woman survived after being taken to a nearby hospital.
Johnny May Cash, the younger brother of prolific Chicago Drill producer Young Chop, was fatally shot in Chicago on Easter Sunday, allegedly because of a viral video of him assaulting a woman. A woman claiming to be Cash’s girlfriend admitted to shooting the rapper, but she says it was self-defense.
LA rapper Yngx 17 was killed on February 28 in North Hollywood in a brutal road rage incident. Following a brief verbal altercation, an angry driver slammed his white Toyota Tundra, hauling a 25-foot trailer, into the rapper, pinning him against a concrete wall before mangling him in the vehicle’s wheels.
414 Lil Moe
26-year-old rapper 414 Lil Moe was shot and killed in his hometown of Milwaukee on February 8 around 9:30 pm while sitting alone in his car. No suspect was arrested—and it remains unclear what led to the shooting.
Inglewood rapper Half Ounce was killed in a drive-by shooting on October 3 in the area of 8th and New Hampshire, where he was walking home with a friend. His was discovered in a planter by the Los Angeles Police department. Even more tragically, his pregnant wife was on the phone with him as things unfolded.
CBE KG, younger brother of the late FBG Duck, was murdered in Chicago over Labor Day weekend. While little details are available, his death comes roughly two years removed from the gruesome, broad-day execution of Duck, who was shopping on the 100 block of East Oak Street in the Gold Coast district.
18-year-old New York rapper C-Hii Wvttz was killed outside a Brooklyn studio on February 6. According to reports, he was leaving with a group (including a close female friend) when another vehicle pulled up alongside the “Geeked” rapper’s car and opened fire.
Amid a vicious gang war in Lousiana Seven7Hardaway, an affiliate of Fredo Bang, was targeted and murdered by armed assailants in a Baton Rouge apartment complex on September 20; paramedics arrived but were too late, and he was pronounced dead on the scene.
18-year-old Baton Rouge rapper TrueBleeda and a friend were gunned down in a drive-by shooting outside of The Mall of Louisiana on February 25. Allegedly, according to one report, the shooting was considered by authorities to be deliberate, involving a rival group.