Memorial Day: Rappers Remember Fallen Friends Through Lyrics

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  • nasopen
    Legends like Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Big Pun and J Dilla are always recognized for their countless contributions before passing on, but hip-hop artists have tragically lost other friends and family who aren't privy to international tributes nationwide. Not just fellow mic controllers, but lifelong friends, siblings, and other comrades that were there with them through thick and thin. Whether the cause is intentional or accidental; done by others or self-inflicted; and whether the victim is human or canine, rap's most prolific emcees have eulogized loved ones through song. The results, more often than not, are timeless records that help artists express themselves while giving listeners a soundtrack for funeral proceedings they have to trudge through. For this year's Memorial Day, XXL pays homage to the lesser recognized names who are worshiped by hip-hop's best. See how these MCs have paid tribute to their fallen loved ones. -William E. Ketchum III
  • philant_ti
    <b>T.I. and Philant Johnson</b><p>T.I.'s longtime friend Philant Johnson was rolling around with him as a personal assistant, but he was killed after their crew had an altercation at a club in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tip eulogized his homie in the KING single “Live In The Sky,” He also pays homage to Philant in the video to “Dead and Gone,” which shows his tombstone.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “Big Phil, this for you, pimpin'! We miss you shorty!” (“Live In The Sky”)</p>
  • Waka-Flocka-Flame
    <b>Waka Flocka Flame and his younger brother</b> <p>Waka Flocka Flame is known for aggressive rhymes about violence, gun violence and trapping, but he had a moment of vulnerability on “Hard In Da Paint,” when he yells, “When my little brother died, I said 'Fuck school!'” His brother, who was 10 years old at the time, died after being hit by a car.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “When my little brother died, I said fuck school” (“Hard In Da Paint”)</p>
  • nelly
    <b>Nelly and sister Jacquelyn Donahue</b><p>Before his sister Jacquelyn Donahue passed of leukemia in 2005, Nelly went on nationwide tours to have bone marrow donation drives to help save the lives of her and others who suffered from the disease. In Vh1's Behind The Music, he still sounds upset with how her dire condition was kept from him while he was away from home.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “Got a sister that need my help, and I gave peace all with wealth/Give anything that I have, just to see her in perfect health” (“Nobody Knows”)</p>
  • nas
    <b>Nas and Willie “Ill Will” Graham</b><p>Nas' childhood best friend Willie Graham was shot and killed when they were teenagers, but his affect on Nas' life is undeniable. Not only has Nas shouted him out in countless songs; he also named his record label after him, Ill Will Records, to help house timeless records like Stillmatic and God's Son.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “To my man Ill Will, God bless your life/To my peoples throughout Queens, God bless your life.” (“The World Is Yours”)</p>
  • nas
    <b>Nas and his mother Fannie Ann Jones</b><p>In 2002, Nas mother died of cancer. On God's Son, which dropped in December of the same year, he dropped the touching “Dance” to wish for one more time with her before she passed.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “Just one more time, my chest would be filled up with sunshine, April 7th, oh-two/That's when the gates of heaven opened up for you to stroll through/Beautiful Anne Jones, Job is done, raising ghetto kids in the hood/You was my strength to carry on and now I'm good” (“Dance”)</p>
  • peterock
    <b>Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Troy Dixon</b><p>Pete Rock and CL Smooth's most popular song, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),” was dedicated to their friend Troy Dixon (better known as “Trouble” T. Roy of Heavy D & The Boyz) who died after falling from a balcony while dancing after a concert. While Troy is gone, his legacy will definitely live on with this classic record.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “He was my brother/Trouble t-roy/It's like that y'all/And you don't stop” ('T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You)”)</p>
  • Cam
    <b>Cam'ron and Bloodshed</b><p>Bloodshed was a member of the Big L-founded supergroup Children of the Corn, which also included Cam'ron, Mase and Herb McGruff. Cam and Bloodshed were cousins, and Jim Jones also cites Bloodshed as one of the originators of The Diplomats.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “I sit in the lobby, look at my ovie, have visions of Gotti/Visions of lotties, pictures of Blood, scenes of L/I wanna see my son, piss in that potty” (The Diplomats' “I Love You,” from Diplomatic Immunity)</p>
  • Huddy_6_
    <b>Cam'ron and Huddy 6</b><p>Before Huddy Combs (also known as Huddy 6) was a member of Mase's short-lived group Harlem World, he was a childhood friend of Mase and Cam during their younger days. Cam shouted Hud out in a few records up until October 2010, when he was killed in a traffic accident in New York City. Cam paid homage to his fallen comrade in a freestyle over Eminem's “No Love,” and publicly dissed Mase for not attending the funeral.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “When Hud’s car crashed, damn I’m like not again/He invented words like ‘curve’ and ‘poppington’/ What up Tintin aka 6man, you know your family can lean on me like a kickstand.” (“Tribute to Hud 6”) </p>
  • tupac
    <b>2Pac and Kato</b><p>On the Nate Dogg-assisted cut “Will They Mourn Me,” 2Pac pours some out for his homie Big Kato. In a 1997 interview with The New Yorker, he explains that Kato was killed when someone was robbing him for Pac's car that he was driving.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “My nigga Kato, he ready for whatever” (“Ready 4 Whatever” from the 2Pac album R U Still Down?)</p>
  • masterp13
    <b>No Limit Records/TRU and Kevin Miller</b><p>Most people know New Orleans' Miller family as the No Limit trio of TRU: Master P, Silkk The Shocker and C-Murder. But their brother Kevin Miller suffered an early death—according to some reports, he was murdered by a heroin-addicted acquaintance who was trying to rob him. They commemorated their sibling on “R.I.P. Kevin,” from the TRU album Da Crime Family, along with other shoutouts like on Master P's solo cut “I Miss My Homies.”</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “Kevin, life ain't the same, even though we got some change/see momma dont understand how you died in the game/and grandma get older, Little Kevin he is a soldier/we done made it out da ghetto aint no more run'n for the rollers” (Master P, “R.I.P. Kevin”)</p>
  • Eminems-Uncle-Ronnie-Polkingharn
    <b>Eminem and Uncle Ronnie</b><p>Eminem's tumultuous family life with his mother and relatives was only worsened when his uncle Ronald “Ronnie” Nelson committed suicide in 1991. Today, Eminem wears a tattoo on his left arm that says “Ronnie R.I.P.”</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “Remember when Ronnie died and you said you wished it was me? Well guess what, I am dead—dead to you as can be!” (“Cleaning Out My Closet”)</p>
  • DrDre
    <b>Dr. Dre and his brother Tyree</b><p>While details surrounding the death of Dr. Dre's brother Tyree are tough to find online, the impact he made is clear. Dre teamed up with Detroit emcee Royce Da 5'9” to write “The Message,” which was the final song on Dr. Dre's seminal album Chronic 2001, to ask God why He took his brother away so early.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “This one is for my brother Tyree. R.I.P.” (“The Message”)</p>
  • dondakanye
    <b>Kanye West and mother Donda West</b><p>Donda West was a professor of English at Clark Atlanta University, and 'Ye has dropped several rhymes to commemorate their relationship. Years after calling her “Louie Vutton Mom” on his classic debut College Dropout, she passed after complications from cosmetic surgery in November 2007. Ye's subsequent project 808s & Heartbreak, and even cameos like his verse on Drake's “Forever,” were notably somber as a result of her death's affect on him. Still, the best representation of their relationship is likely “Hey Mama,” from his album Late Registration.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “Just tell me what kind of S-Type Donda West like/Tell me the perfect color so I make it just right/It don't gotta be Mother's Day, or your birthday, for me to just call and say” (“Hey Mama”)</p><p>“Would give my Grammy back, just to have my mammy back” (“Forever”)</p>
  • DMX
    <b>DMX and Boomer (dog)</b><p>DMX has shown an affinity for dogs throughout his entire career, but none were closer than his pitbull Boomer. As he explains in his autobiography E.A.R.L. (which has an entire chapter dedicated to the dog), he got Boomer when he was a puppy and he'd watch him tear apart cats, raccoons, and other dogs the way X would tear apart beats. X has shown his loyalty to Boomer, who died after being hit by a car, throughout song lyrics, a tattoo on his back, and even a short-lived clothing line named after him.</p><p>Lyric: “Boomer One Love Nigga *growls* Murda Motherfucker” (“Murdergram”)</p>
  • DMX_1
    <b>DMX and Kato</b><p>On the song “A'Yo Kato” from his album Grand Champ, DMX shouts out his Chicago family friend who ran a record label, Denaro Records, and allegedly was a former Latin King gang member that moved cocaine. Reports say Kato was shot and killed while getting a haircut in a travel-based barbershop.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “A'yo K' let me kick it wid you for a minute/There was things left unsaid, dog, we wasn't finished/Never got to say thank you for being a friend/dogs for life, and you rode to the end” ("Ayo Kato")</p>
  • D12
    <b>D12 and Bugz</b><p>Before D12 blew up, Eminem had left the group to pursue a solo career. But when of its founding members Bugz was shot and killed as a result of an altercation before a show in Detroit, Eminem re-joined to replace Bugz and help the group handle upcoming business. The group never forgot Bugz throughout their multi-platinum success over the years, and they paid homage with “Good Die Young” from their album D12 World.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “I hope y'all understand how I'm feelin cause I love you Bugz/I wanna rhyme with you, laugh with you, hug you Bugz/But I can't, and you were so close to see your dreams/A coward came along and took you away from the team” (Kuniva on “Good Die Young”)</p>
  • Colleek
    <b>Jay-Z and Colleek</b><p>Hov has shouted out Biggie in plenty of songs, but perhaps his most touching personal tribute was to his nephew Colleek on “Lost One.” Colleek was the victim of a fatal car crash in a whip that Jay bought him, and Jay has said that he feels personally responsible for his death.</p><p><b>Lyric</b>: “My nephew died in the car I bought, under the belief it's partly my fault/close my eyes and squeeze, try to block that thought/place any burden on me, please, not that Lord...Colleek, you're a champion."</p>
  • buckshot-incredible
    <b>Buckshot and friend Lou (“One For You”)</b><p>On his second album with 9th Wonder, Buckshot dropped a gem to commemorate fallen soldier Lou. On “One For You (Big Lou),” Buckshot remembers better times with his homie and fights the itch for retaliation.</p><p>Lyric: “The got me reminiscing on my man Lou, you know how we do, damn I miss him” (“One For You (Big Lou)”)</p>
  • http://www.youtube.com/thacrossword Crossword

    What’s up with not mentioning Eminem/D12 and Proof?

    • t3h

      Can’t even read line from Dance without chokin up, goddman NaS…

  • Money Mitch

    What about mobb deep and havoc’s brother killa black? Or cormega and ill will and killa black they was all from qb.

  • tumi

    not a mention of Eminem’s dedication to Proof… wtf!

  • polow

    Rae -ason jones
    Wu – life changes

  • http://speechismyhammer.com/ William

    “hip-hop artists have tragically lost other friends and family who aren’t privy to international tributes nationwide.”

    “For this year’s Memorial Day, XXL pays homage to the lesser recognized names who are worshiped by hip-hop’s best.”

    Proof is a name who is already known by many. The list is dedicated to deceased people who haven’t really tasted the limelight.

  • tumi

    william damn I never read that intro damn… good looking out

  • SlimNatey

    Bugz was also at the end of the Like Toy Soldiers video