Yesterday, XXL Magazine published a list of fifty-two rappers slain since 1987. It’s an unnervingly macabre feature, with scores of tragedy forced into the cold, logical order of an online slideshow. Each entry features career vital signs: name, age, region, affiliates, and singles. Then, there’s case status. A significant majority read, “Unsolved.”
The list produces some jarring statistics. Namely, the amount deaths conclusively resolved by officials comes in at about 30%. The national rate, according to NPR, hovers around 64%.
The piece’s introduction touches on reasons for the statistical discrepancy, which sound familiar: Communities of color often distrust police—the result of American law enforcement’s appallingly racist legacy—while investigative resources and motivation are fewer and less aggressively dispatched to historically underserved areas. According to XXL, a witness to the fatal February shooting of The Jacka in Oakland told reporters that “bullets don’t have no name.”
And several entries note speculation about retaliation, suggesting an inclination towards internal score-settling. Orlando Anderson, a possible suspect in the 1996 killing of 2Pac, was murdered in 1998. Fat Tone, rumored to responsible for the 2004 killing of iconic East Bay MC Mac Dre, perished six months after. Which is to say nothing of even more recent and widely discussed killings of young, interconnected artists in Chicago.
In the shooting deaths of five artists this year, no suspects have been named.