Not to be too sinister, but one of the few guarantees in life is death. Over the course of hip-hop’s 50-year history, a significant number of rappers, producers and genre-adjacent figures have unfortunately been called home. As a result, memorials are oftentimes created in the booth, leading to an extensive collection of songs paying homage to rap's fallen soldiers.
Last November, the hip-hop community mourned the loss of Memphis legend Young Dolph after he was tragically shot and killed. The Paper Route Empire founder is survived by his frequent collaborator and cousin Key Glock. To salute the legacy of his brethren, Glock released the tribute track "Proud" shortly after. On the track, he rhymes, "Aye, don't worry ’bout Glizock, nigga, I'ma hold it down/I went and got some blue diamonds to let ’em know you still around."
In 2019, Nipsey Hussle's life was also taken due to gun violence. Following his death, Nip's friend Meek Mill and mentee Roddy Ricch released "Letter to Nipsey." On the record, Meek opens up about his relationship with the slain boss, rapping, "And I ain't finna sit here, act like I'm your main homie/But when we lost you, it really put some pain on me." While Roddy offers bars about how he reacted to the situation, crooning, "I was in Miami when I lost you, I ain't talk about it/I remember I bawled out in tears when I saw your body."
Tributes also came out on the heels of Pop Smoke's death in early 2020. Pop's frequent collaborator Lil Tjay was one of the first artists to drop a musical dedication to the drill music general. On "Forever Pop," Tjay puts his heart into the lyrics he lets out on the mic. "Rest my nigga Pop Smoke, know I'm lettin' shots go," he delivers in a sing-song flow. "At any nigga, fuck it, I inherited the opps though/Know I'm finna make it to the tippy-tippy top, bro, for you/I know that's all you wanna see me do."
In remembrance of other rap stars like Juice Wrld, XXXTentacion and Lil Peep, all the way to more seasoned acts like DMX, DJ Screw and The Notorious B.I.G., here, XXL highlights about 40 songs that pay tribute to hip-hop's fallen legends. Later in this article are songs dedicated to the friends and family of hip-hop artists as well. Check out everything below.
Key Glock's "Proud"Dedicated to Young Dolph
Key Glock puts up prayer hands and declares that he'll continue to make Young Dolph proud.
Meek Mill's "Letter to Nipsey" featuring Roddy RicchDedicated to Nipsey Hussle
Meek Mill pays his respects to the West Coast legend and Roddy Ricch salutes his fallen OG.
Lil Tjay’s "Forever Pop"Dedicated to Pop Smoke
Lil Tjay croons about losing his homie and right-hand collaborator.
Joey Bada$$' "Survivor’s Guilt"Dedicated to Capital Steez
From "Survival Tactics" to "Survivor's Guilt," Joey Bada$$ remembers the legacy of Capital Steez.
Juice Wrld's "Legends"Dedicated to XXXTentacion and Lil Peep
Juice Wrld remembers the influence of XXXTentacion and Lil Peep and questions the cruel world that we live in.
Gucci Mane's "Long Live Dolph"Dedicated to Young Dolph
Gucci Mane shows love to Young Dolph, letting it be known that the Memphis native's impact will live on forever.
Papoose's "Thank You"Dedicated to DMX
Papoose delivers a chilling tribute to the late DMX, thanking X for his contributions to the game.
The Kid Laroi's "Tell Me Why"Dedicated to Juice Wrld
The Kid Laroi sheds melodic tears over the death of his mentor and label mate Juice Wrld.
Post Malone's "Money Made Me Do It" featuring 2 ChainzDedicated to Bankroll Fresh
Post Malone and 2 Chainz get a few bars off about their love for Bankroll Fresh.
Kendrick Lamar's "The Heart 5"Dedicated to Nipsey Hussle
K-Dot channels Nipsey Hussle and drops off some prophetic words in the last verse of this soul-touching track.
Meek Mill's "Lil Nigga Snupe"Dedicated to Lil Snupe
Meek Mill screams "R.I.P." to his slain prodigy.
Ralfy The Plug’s "The Truth Hurts"Dedicated to Drakeo The Ruler
Ralfy The Plug puts out the facts that his brother Drakeo The Ruler was a real one.
Wifisfuneral's "Alone As A Facetat"Dedicated to XXXTentacion
Wifisfuneral solidifies the notion that XXX's impact will live on forever.
Rah Swish's "Left Hollywood"Dedicated to Pop Smoke
Rah Swish raises goosebumps with this ode to Pop Smoke.
Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You" featuring Faith Evans and 112Dedicated to The Notorious B.I.G.
Sauce Money may have penned the rhymes, but Puff's words, backed by Big's widow's vocals made for a worthy send off for the nicest MC.
Polo G's "21"Dedicated to Juice Wrld
Polo G appreciates the time he got to spend with Juice Wrld and sends his condolences.
Playboi Carti's "R.I.P. Fredo (Notice Me)" featuring Young NudyDedicated to Fredo Santana
Playboi Carti and Young Nudy share some heartfelt words about Fredo Santana over a head-knocking beat.
Jadakiss' "Letter To B.I.G."Dedicated to The Notorious B.I.G.
’Kiss pens a personal kite to Christopher "Frank White" Wallace and shares it with the world.
Cuban Link's "Flowers For The Dead"Dedicated to Big Pun
Cuban Link drops a lyrical rose on Pun's grave site.
Anderson .Paak's "Cheers" featuring Q-TipDedicated to Mac Miller
Anderson .Paak gets vulnerable within this song about the respected figure that is Mac Miller.
Kodak Black’s "Falling Over"Dedicated to XXXTentacion
Yak comes through with a beautiful record about missing Jahseh.
The Lox's "We'll Always Love Big Poppa"Dedicated to The Notorious B.I.G.
Jada, Styles and Sheek profess their undying love for Biggie and make a hip-hop classic in the process.
Wu-Tang Clan's "Life Changes"Dedicated to Ol' Dirty Bastard
The entire Clan came to the front to salute Dirty and reflect on how much life changes without their enigmatic member.
Cuban Link's “Letter to Pun”Dedicated to Big Pun
Cuban pours his heart and soul into this letter to his fallen compadre.
Diaz Brothers' “Gone Too Soon”Dedicated to Guru
Tony and Doo Wop promise to carry on Guru's legacy for as long as they can.
Mr. Cheeks' "Till We Meet Again" featuring Stephen MarleyDedicated to Freaky Tah
The Lost Boyz frontman remembers one of the greatest hype men to ever touch the mic.
Jay-Z 's "The City is Mine" featuring BlackstreetDedicated to The Notorious B.I.G.
Although not a full-on dedication, Jigga was clearly speaking to Big and promised him that in his absence he'd hold down the Brooklyn crown.
Naughty By Nature's "Mourn You Til I Join You"Dedicated to Tupac Shakur
Treach mourns the loss of his former Juice co-star and close friend Tupac.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "Tha Crossroads"Dedicated to Eazy-E
Recorded before their mentor's passing, Bone Thugs wound up with the perfect anthem to commemorate the life and death of Eazy-E. The song may not have been made with him in mind, but you can't listen to this record without thinking of Eazy.
Raekwon's "Ason Jones"Dedicated to Ol' Dirty Bastard
The Chef decided to cook up a powerful dedication to ODB.
Killer Mike's "Guru Salute"Dedicated to Guru
The ATLien salutes Guru as only he can.
D.I.T.C.'s "Tribute"Dedicated to Big L
Lamont's big homies recalled the day he passed just to let him know they will always respect his legacy.
D12's "Good Die Young"Dedicated to Bugz
The Detroit squad pay homage to one of the original members of the Dirty Dozen.
Songs Dedicated to Rappers' Fallen Friends and Family
Kanye West's "Hey Mama (Grammy Live Version)"Dedicated to Kanye West's Mother Donda
Originally a celebration of his mom and all she's done, the Grammy version of this track recorded with slightly different lyrics became a posthumous tribute to Ye's mama.
Travis Scott's "R.I.P. Screw"Dedicated to DJ Screw
Travis Scott dedicates an Astroworld deep cut to Houston's most influential producer.
Pete Rock & CL Smooth's "They Reminisce Over You"Dedicated to Trouble T-Roy
Casual rap fans might not have known Heavy D's fallen dancer's name, but thanks to Mecca & the Soul Brother, everyone reminisces over Troy.
The Roots' "Can’t Stop This"Dedicated to J Dilla
Black Thought and them Philly boys make sure that the world recognizes the importance of Dilla's impact on music on this touching tribute.
Aaliyah's "Miss You (Remix)" featuring Jay-ZDedicated to Aaliyah
While the world was dealing with the tragedy of 9/11, the Roc-A-Fella family was still coming to grips with the death of Aaliyah and Jay poured his heart into this dedicated remix.
Dr. Dre's "The Message" featuring Mary J. Blige and RellDedicated to Dr. Dre's Brother Tyree
On this classic 2001 track, the good doc remembers his deceased brother.
Guilty Simpson's "Cali Hills"Dedicated to J Dilla
The Detroit producer gets a posthumous dedication from Guilty that does his legacy proud.
Nas' "Dance"Dedicated to His Mother
All Nas needs is one mic and one more dance with his mama.
Trick Daddy's “Thug Holiday” featuring LaTocha ScottDedicated to His Brother Holiday
The Miami mayor dedicates this one to his brother Holiday and anyone else that lost someone.
The quintessential ode to the fallen from the Cali crooners.
T.I.'s "Live in the Sky" featuring Jamie FoxxDedicated to Philant Johnson
After the murder of his friend Philant Johnson, Tip hooked up with Jamie to celebrate the deceased pal's life.
Redman's "Rockafella"Dedicated to Rockafella
In honor of his man from Jerz that died, Reggie immortalized his homie's name with this track.
The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Miss U" featuring 112Dedicated to O
The Brooklyn rhymer crafted a record dedicated to his friend O and anyone else that got taken away too soon.
Cam'ron's "Love My Life" featuring Nicole WrayDedicated to His Homies
Killa delivers his own eulogy and name-drops fallen soldiers like Bloodshed that impacted his life over the years.
Cormega's "Fallen Soldiers"Dedicated to Those Gone Too Soon
Mega shouts out all his homies that were taken away too early.
Prodigy 's "Veteran's Memorial"Dedicated to Comrades
P salutes all his duns that have gone past the pearly gates.
Juelz Santana's "This Is For My Homies"Dedicated to His Homies
The Dipset star remake D.R.S’s "Gangsta Lean" and dedicates it to his homies.
Slim Thug's "Dedicate"Dedicated to Sleep Dog and Others
The Texas boss remembers his homie Sleep Dog and other Southern figures.
Cage's "Nothing Left to Say"Dedicated to MC Camu Too
Cage sends a kite to his homie and underground MC Camu Tao, who passed from lung cancer.
Lil Flip and Mr. Capone-E's "We Miss You"Dedicated to Legendary Texas Artists
Flip dedicates this one to Pimp C, DJ Screw and a host of other Texas greats.
Prodigy's "Veteran's Memorial, Pt. 2"Dedicated to Kill Black and Twin Scarface
In the sequel to his memorial track, P revisits the lives of his man Killa Black and Scarface Twin.
Young Jeezy's "Talk To Em"Dedicated to His Fallen Friends
The Snowman wishes he had the chance to talk to his homies that passed.
M.O.P.'s "Dead & Gone"Dedicated to the Dead
The Mash Out Posse salutes all those that are dead and gone.
N.O.R.E.'s "Sometimes" featuring MazeDedicated to His Father and Friend
N.O.R.E. dedicates this one to his pops and his partner-in-rhyme while he was incarcerated.
Tupac Shakur's "Life Goes On"Dedicated to the Streets
Pac remembers all the brothers that got trapped in the streets.