Death sucks. There’s no other way to say it. While music lasts forever, and we’ll always have these songs, it really sucks to think that the voices who made them come to life aren’t sharing a planet with us anymore. This year was one of the most painful and numerous in terms of hip-hop passing, so we at the Weekly felt it was only right to say goodbye one last time. This is our 2016 Rap In Memoriam.
Sadly the first rap great to expire this year also happened to be someone who many considered to be the first rapper. Clarence Reid was a respected R&B songsmith, and his alter-ego Blowfly was a master of dirty party records, whose penchant for rhyming resulted in one of the genre’s earliest major influences in “Rapp Dirty.”
Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest
An integral part of one of the greatest rap groups of all time, A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg’s death broke hip-hop’s heart. The perfect balance to partner-in-rhyme Q-Tip, getting to hear him complete one more Tribe album before his passing was one of the few bright spots of 2016.
One of the most beloved battle rappers in the the circuit, Cadalack Ron competed in several leagues going back to when the street battle format took off online in 2008. While his struggles with addiction were public, his charisma and openness made battle fans root for him, resulting in several of the medium’s most classic match-ups.
One of Bankhead, Atlanta GA’s favorite sons, Shawty Lo had two massive hits that the aughts’ hip-hop would sound drastically different without. As part of D4L, “Laffy Taffy” was inescapable, and then when he broke solo with 2008’s “They Know,” he created one of his city’s signature classics.
A promising young Atlanta talent, Bankroll Fresh’s death caused shockwaves through the Atlanta hip-hop scene. With a dexterous flow, tracks like “Hot Boy” would fall apart in the hands of any other rapper.
A cornerstone of the New York City underground hip-hop scene, Majesty used his status as a longtime veteran of the circuit to help build and shape some of the most iconic corners of the city. From EOW (End of the Weak) to Legendary Cyphers, his presence was unmistakable and undeniable.
Houston legend Mr. 3-2 had one of rap’s great unsung impact. One-half of The Convicts with Big Mike, an MC tutor of Snoop Dogg and the first class of Death Row signees, and Screwed-Up Click alumni, 3-2’s legacy crosses so many rap venn diagrams. His greatest contribution might be the opening verse on UGK’s “One Day.”
If you were a Chicago MC and you needed an excellent smooth voice to do your hook, Johnny P was your guy. Whether heard alongside Do Or Die or Twista, his elongated lush tones made the perfect contrast to a time when rap flows were at their absolute most staccato.