NEW YORK - Fans recently gathered in Los Angeles to mourn the passing of hip-hop artist PnB Rock. The 30-year-old Philadelphia native was shot and killed on Sept. 12 while out to lunch with a woman at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles in South Los Angeles. The LAPD said a two-man robbery crew, led there by a location tag in the woman's social media post, shot him multiple times and took his jewelry.
"He was an artist's artist. To upcoming artists, he always reached out," Bobby Fisher of Empire Records said. "He had an outstanding rapport with the hip hop community."
PnB's murder in Los Angeles was eerily reminiscent of the armed robbery and murder of 20-year-old Pop Smoke in the Hollywood Hills in 2020. Police say that crew was tipped off by a social media post with the street address.
In 2020, more than a dozen prominent rappers lost their lives, most to gun violence. That compares to what the government ranks as the deadliest professions — loggers with 56 deaths and roofers with 96 deaths.
A 2015 study found jazz and blues singers have the longest lifespans, into their 60s, while male rap and hip-hop artists have the shortest life expectancy—under 30. When it comes to cause of death, more than 50% of the deaths of hip hop artists and rappers were due to homicide, compared to under 6% for metal, country, blues and jazz artists.
Many hip-hop artists and rappers come from the most impoverished, under-resourced and dangerous urban communities.
"The labels are culpable a little bit, a lot actually," AllHipHop.com CEO Chuck Creekmur said. "I think they're signing a certain type of artist that's controversial, potentially already engaged in criminal activity."
The list of murdered rappers is long. In November 2021, Memphis hip-hop artist Young Dolph was fatally shot while buying cookies for his grandmother. In May 2019, Nipsey Hussle was gunned down right in the L.A. community he was working so hard to uplift and empower. In February 2022, Tdott Woo, a Pop Smoke protégé, was shot and killed in Brooklyn right after signing a record deal.
"I would just love for us to start leading with talent first," Creekmur said. "If controversy comes, that's cool, but it can't start there."
There have been no arrests in PnBRock's murder. The area where he was killed has seen a sharp rise in violent robberies as our city and our country experience an uptick in crime and gun violence.
This story has been updated. The CEO of allhiphop.com was previously misidentified.