In Memory Of...


The hip-hop community will carry heavy hearts looking back at its losses in 2011. That’s because hip-hop lost pioneers in Sylvia Robinson, the founder of the Sugar Hill Gang and Sugar Hill Records, and Gil Scott-Heron, the prolific Chi-town spoken-word genius, who highly influenced conscious rappers such as Chuck D and Lupe Fiasco. In addition, the genre lost crooner and hit hookmaker Nate Dogg and beloved rapper Heavy D, both under 45-years-old. Tragically, Cali Swag District rapper M-Bone lost his life at only 22, the victim of a drive-by shooting. Here, XXL looks back on these precious lives hip-hop lost in the past calendar. May their souls rest in eternal peace.—XXL Staff


Nate Dogg

On March 15, hip-hop and R&B lost one of the smoothest voices around when Nate Dogg died due to complications from multiple strokes that he suffered from 2007 to 2008. The voice of the G-Funk laid down memorable hooks for the likes of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Ludacris and perhaps most memorably on Warren G’s “Regulate.” He was 41.



Cali Swag District rapper M-Bone was killed in a drive-by shooting on May 16. The Inglewood Police Department confirmed to MTV News that M-Bone, born Mante Talbert, died of two gunshot wounds to the head in his hometown of Inglewood, California. One fourth of the Cali Swag District, which is known for its 2010 hit, “Teach Me How to Dougie,” M-Bone was only 22-years-old.


Gil Scott-Heron

One of the most influential spoken-word poets, Gil Scott-Heron died at the age of 62 in New York City on May 27. The Chicago-born legend influenced the likes of Chuck D, Eminem and Lupe Fiasco, his voice and powerful words were sampled on Kanye West’s “Who Will Survive in America,” a track off his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album.


Sylvia Robinson

Sylvia Robinson, the singer and producer who founded Sugar Hill Gang and Sugar Hill Records, died on September 29 at a hospital in New Jersey. She was 75. Known as “the mother of hip-hop,” Robinson and her husband, Joe Robinson, founded Sugar Hill Records in 1979, before signing the legendary Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, who recorded their smash, “The Message” in 1982.


Heavy D

The hip-hop community was shocked to learn of the death of Heavy D on November 8. Born Dwight Arrington Myers, Hev died in Los Angeles after having trouble breathing. He was 44. Toxicology results are still expected. From rapping alongside both Michael and Janet Jackson to discovering Soul for Real and turning in a dance-filled performance at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards, “The Overweight Lover” will forever be remembered as one of hip-hop’s gentle giants.


Slim Dunkin

Rapper Slim Dunkin was gunned down on December 16 in an Atlanta music studio, as he was preparing to shoot a video. Atlanta police say the Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Brick Squad affiliate was shot in the chest after getting into an argument with another individual. No arrests have been made as of press time.