Study: 51% of Dead Rappers Were Murdered

Fascinating study analyzed the deaths of 13K musicians
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2015 12:51 PM CDT
Can Genre Predict How Musicians Will Die?
This 1993 file photo originally provided by Columbia Pictures shows rap musician Tupac Shakur iin a scene from "Poetic Justice."   (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures, file)

A note for aspiring musicians: The country music path is much safer than the rap game, at least when it comes to murder. That's the takeaway from a fascinating new study in the Conversation. Psychology and music professor Dianna Theadora Kenny analyzed the deaths of 13,000 musicians who performed in front of crowds in genres including blues, rap, gospel, punk, and metal, and she made some startling finds. For one thing, 6% of musicians in her sample were murdered, yet homicide accounted for "51% of deaths in rap musicians and 51.5% of deaths for hip hop musicians," Kenny explains. Such musicians are "in a much more occupational hazard profession compared to war," she tells the Washington Post.

About 30% of punk musicians in the sample died in accidents, including car accidents or by accidental overdose, and 11% committed suicide, compared to a 7% suicide rate overall. Similarly, 36.2% of metal musicians' deaths were accidental, while 19.3% died by suicide, the highest rate of any genre. Rock musicians also had a high rate of accidental death at 24.4%. Kenny points out that musicians of newer genres "have not yet lived long enough to fall into the highest-risk ages for heart- and liver-related illnesses. Consequently, they had the lowest rates of death in these categories." (Blues, country, and R&B musicians had high rates of heart-related deaths.) Kenny suggests "the ubiquitous presence of alcohol and other substances of addiction, irregular hours, touring, high levels of stress, [and] performance anxiety" likely play a role in "the underlying causes of these patterns in mortality." (More music stories.)

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