The Hip Hop World Is A Large Graveyard
The recent deaths of rapper DMX and Black Rob at the respective ages of 50 and 51 reminded me how many hip hop artists have died at a young age.
If 50 is still damn young for dying, in terms of rap life, it’s unfortunately quite old and even an exception; many rappers do not reach DMX’s age in the US. How is it possible?
It is simply astonishing, in an extremely bad way, the hip hop world is a large graveyard. A 2015 study had already established that a lot of rappers had been murdered as homicide is the cause of 51% of deaths in rap musicians and 51.5% of deaths for hip hop musicians: in comparison, homicide represented only 2-10% of deaths for other genres of music.
This page gives the list of deceased hip hop artists since the late ‘80s and it is insanely long. I don’t think it has been recently updated because the most recent deaths are not reported, so I added a few names, thanks to this Wikipedia page and this Guardian article
The complete file represents 282 men who were shot, stabbed, murdered, have died of car accidents, drug overdoses, suicides, or even freak accidents, and the large majority of them were in their 20s or 30s.
The graph below compares the statistics for major causes of death for rappers with the US male population (CDC data), a fitting comparison since all these rappers were males. There is an obvious excess of homicide among hip hop and rap artists, while drug overdoses are not even a significant leading cause of death in the general population, despite the opioid epidemic.
The average age of death for the hip hop population is heartbreakingly young, it is barely 29 years old when the 282 deaths are taken into consideration! Meanwhile, the average age of death for the US male population is 78. 34% of rappers died between the ages of 15 and 24 and 44 % of them died between the ages of 25 and 34.
If it’s difficult to know how many rappers are out there, this page lists 462 of them in the US. And if we consider that 56 of them died between 15 and 24 and 72 of them died between 25 and 34, these 2 groups respectively represent 12% and 15.5% of the hip hop community. Almost 28% of rappers have died before reaching 35!
In comparison, the death rate for the male population in the US is 100.1/100,000 (so 0.1%) for people between the ages of 15 and 24 and 176.1/100,000 (so 0.18%) for people between the ages of 25 and 34, meaning that only 0.1% and 0.18% of the male population in the US died before reaching respectively 25 and 35. Even if these comparisons are not perfect, the discrepancy between the general population and the hip hop community is so overwhelming that this is shattering.
The causes of death are multiple, whether they are due to drug use or have ties to gang affiliation and endless wars between rival rap schools. The history of rap is paved with many tombs and it doesn’t seem to stop.