See Portraits Of Biggie, J. Dilla, Phife & More If They’d Lived To Grow Old

More than with any other genre, Rap artists seem to perish far too young. While that has disproportionately been driven by altercations that could have been resolved differently, there have also been a number of MCs who have succumbed to other fates. Phife Dawg, from A Tribe Called Quest, succumbed to an extended battle with diabetes. DMX, Ol Dirty Bastard and Digital Underground’s Shock G fell to substance abuse. J. Dilla, Big Pun, Guru from Gang Starr, Eazy-E and Nate Dogg suffered from other ailments.

Lupe Fiasco Has The Year’s Best Verse & It’s Only 1 Line

This week, artist Cid. R. San put together a video tribute celebrating those legendary MCs, as well as Nipsey Hussle, Jam Master Jay, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. Set to the soundtrack of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”, their tribute to their late friend and back up dancer Trouble T Roy, the video features artwork of each of the aforementioned artists depicted as men who lived much longer lives. Phife is shown at age 72. Big L is visualized as a 74-year old. J. Dilla is a dapper dan at 70, and so on. Above each, there is a caption that reads “Photos that will never be taken because they were taken too soon.”

In a year that recently has featured the high profile losses of PnB Rock, Takeoff and more, the tribute is a bittersweet “what if” moment for some of Hip-Hop’s most revered personalities.

Nas Pays Tribute To Takeoff With Powerful Words About Self-PRESERVATION

Last week, Nas spoke powerful words about Takeoff, at the release party for his King’s Disease III album. During the speech, he made a heartfelt plea for self-preservation. “We’re trying to tell these people out here, man, we’re here for a purpose. We can’t be destroying each other over bullsh*t. Look at these little brothers and be like don’t shoot; don’t throw your life away. It ain’t worth it. There’s something to live for, something to be here for. All that tough sh*t is cool when you’re growing up, but we gotta learn that we’re here for a purpose, and there is a design that’s out here to make sure we don’t grow, to make sure that we don’t make it. And we gotta recognize that there is something in existence that’s trying to stop the youth from the hood from growing into its proper purpose.” While Nas’ words were primarily about avoiding senseless altercations, his sentiments also would apply to tendencies that were detrimental to health, generally.

No matter the cause, the cycle of life ultimately ends for everyone. This video and Cid. R. San’s Instagram page are filled with stirring portraits of artists from the past and present, that show the vivaciousness of each of the subjects while they are at their peak powers.