Every single day, too many people fall victim to gunfire. The list of rappers that got slain is long, with already close to 40. Here are some of the more famous who, like Tupac, are no longer with us because of a fatal shooting. Let’s stop this madness; in and outside of the rap world.

  1. Latasha Harlins

    Real name: Latasha Harlins
    Died: 16 Mar 1991

    Latasha Harlins (Wikimedia Commons)

    15-year-old Latasha Harlins was shot and killed with 1 shot in the head by a Korean shop owner, who incorrectly thought that Harlins was stealing a bottle of orange juice. This incident happened on 16 March 1991, only 13 days after the videotaped beating of Rodney King by the L.A.P.D. The jury recommended the maximum sentence of 16 years, however, the trial judge did not accept the jury’s decision and gave the shop owner five years of probation, 400 hours of comunity service and a small fine. A state appeals court upheld the judge’s sentencing decision in April 1992, just one week before the notorious 1992 Los Angeles riots.

    Latasha Harlins was obviously not a rapper. But she absolutely has her place on this list, though, because her violent death is referenced numerous time in rap songs, especially by Tupac. He, for example, mentions her in ‘Something 2 Die 4’ (Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., 1993), ‘Hellrazor’ (R U Still Down? [Remember Me], 1997) and ‘Thugz Mansion’ (Better Dayz, 2002). Latasha Harlins’ case was also the inspiration for Ice Cube’s ‘Black Korea’.

  2. Stretch

    Real name: Randy Walker
    Died: 30 Nov 1995

    Stretch in 1993 (Wikimedia Commons)

    Randy “Stretch” Walker, member of rap group Live Squad, was a close friend of Tupac in the early 1990’s, working together on several songs as well. Everything changed after the 1994 shooting at Quad Studio, when Tupac got robbed and shot while Stretch was aside him. Stretch didn’t get injured and Tupac got more and more convinced Stretch had been part of the people that had set him up. He was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Queens Village, exactly one year after the Quad Studio incident, on 30 November 1995. Tupac denied any involvement with Stretch’s murder, but made many references to it in several songs, for example on ‘Against All Odds’ (The Don Killuminati: the 7-Day Theory, 1996): And that nigga that was down for me / Restin’ dead / Switched sides / Guess his new friends wanted him dead / Probably be murdered / For the shit that I said.

  3. Yaki Kadafi

    Real name: Yafeu Akiyele Fula
    Died: 10 Nov 1996

    Kadafi in 1996 (Wikimedia Commons)

    With both parents members of the Black Panther Party, Tupac and Yaki Kadafi have known each other for most of their short lives. They worked together on several songs and albums, Yaki being member of the 2Pac-affiliated rap groups Dramacydal and the Outlawz. Napoleon, another Outlawz member, was a childhood friend of Yaki’s and introduced him to his younger cousin Roddy. Yaki and Roddy hit it off immediately, becoming good friends. On 10 November 1996, disaster struck as Roddy accidentally shot Yaki in the head while playing with his gun. Yaki was only 19 years old.

  4. The Notorious B.I.G.

    Real name: Christopher Wallace
    Died: 09 Mar 1997

    Biggie Smalls mural in Little Haiti, Miami (Phillip Pessar / CC BY 2.0)

    What Tupac was to so called “West Coast rap”, The Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls or simply Biggie) was to the East Coast rap: “King of New York”. What started out as a close friendship with Tupac, went down as rap’s dark ages: the so-called East-West feud, after Tupac accused Biggie (and his mentor/producer Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs) of being involved in or at least holding back information about the 1994 Quad Studio shooting, in which Tupac got robbed and shot five times. A mere six months after Tupac’s fatal shooting in Las Vegas, Biggie was killed in a similar drive-by shooting, in Los Angeles on 9 March 1997, after attending Soul Train Music Awards and an after party hosted by Vibe Magazine and Qwest Records at the Petersen Automotive Museum. He was 24.

  5. Big L

    Real name: Lamont Coleman
    Died: 15 Feb 1999

    Big L in 1994 (WillStunting via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Big L is often praised for his renewing style and impressive lyrical technique, especially when it comes to wordplay. His life was abruptly ended at the age of 24, when he got shot nine times in a drive-by shooting at 45 West 139th Street in Harlem, New York, on 15 February 1999. Initial reports speculated that his assailant either wanted vengeance against his then incarcerated older brother or mistook him for his brother.

  6. Jam Master Jay

    Real name: Jason William Mizell
    Died: 30 Oct 2002

    Jam Master Jay (Wikimedia Commons)

    Jam Master Jay, DJ of one of the biggest and most influential groups in hip-hop music history, RUN-D.M.C., is maybe a surprising one in this list, as he stayed far away from so-called “gangster rap”. Nevertheless, he was shot and killed in a recording studio on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens on 30 October 2002. He was 37 years old. The case remains unsolved, despite leads to possible connections to a convicted drug dealer, Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff (who had a beef with 50 Cent, at one point a protegé of Jam Master Jay) and another one to a suspect in the 1995 Stretch-killing.

  7. Proof

    Real name: DeShaun Dupree Holton
    Died: 11 Apr 2006

    Proof in 2005 (Timothy M. Moore via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0)

    From Detroit, Michigan, Proof is best known to be a close childhood friend of Eminem and as a member of Eminem’s group D12. On 11 April 2006, he was shot three times by Mario Etheridge after an argument broke out during a game of billiards at the CCC Club on 8 Mile Road (Detroit, Michigan). He was 32.

  8. XXXTentacion

    Real name: Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy
    Died: 18 Jun 2018

    XXXTentacion in 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)

    Social media generation rapper XXXTentacion was very controversial in his short life: attacking fellow students, arrested and charged with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, another arrest for aggravated battery, … and claiming to be better than 2Pac (I’m better than 2Pac, bro. Please don’t compare me to him. Please don’t.)! He was shot and killed while leaving a motorcycle dealership in Deerfield Beach, Florida, at the age of 20. The shooter, Dedrick Devonshay Williams, was arrested two days later.