With each passing year we lose more of our most beloved entertainers, musicians, actors, activists, and legendary cultural figures. 2023 is no different and with the year coming to an end it’s only right that we remember those who brought us so much joy through their performances and expressions of art.
In some cases, the public would be aware of a celebrity’s battle with health issues, or addiction, but in many cases, these deaths were unexpected, shocking, and heartbreaking for those of us who admired their work both on the clock and off the clock. Many of those on this list were not just great at their jobs, they were great humans who used their platforms to help enrich the lives of others.
Today, we celebrate those who we have lost and give them the flowers they so richly deserve.
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As a member of Three 6 Mafia, Gangsta Boo was a standout whose verses and personality will forever be remembered. Lola Chantrelle Mitchell passed away at the age of 43. Gone far too soon.
David “Trugoy the Dove” Jolicoeur
Trugoy was 1/3 of the iconic rap group De La Soul and his passing brought great pain to the hip-hop community who was prepared to celebrate the culture’s 50th anniversary in epic fashion. His contributions to the music we know and love can’t be understated.
Reddick’s passing came on the eve of the release of John Wick 4 and the specter of his death took a toll on his family, friends, and castmates who all spoke about how integral he was not only with this acting prowess but also the energy he brought to set. He enjoyed a long career that also included a role in another lauded production in HBO’s The Wire.
What words can be said about Harry Belafonte that haven’t been said before. The man spent his entire professional career breaking barriers and creating opportunities not only for other Black entertainers but for Black people as a whole. We are all forever indebted to his life’s work.
Similar to Harry Belafonte, Jim Brown’s iconic status stretches far beyond his chosen professional field. While wearing shoulder pads and a helmet, grown men wanted no smoke with #32. While wearing a hat adorned with the colors of Pan-African pride, racist white men wanted no smoke with him either. Rest easy, legend.
Tina Turner will forever be an “it” girl. Her voice, her presence, her ability to transform a song into a spiritual experience is nearly unmatched and the blueprint that she laid is and will continue to be utilized by artists for years to come.
This one hit hard. As a fan-favorite from the hit HBO show Euphoria, Angus Cloud was cherished for his genuine demeanor, transparent emotional disposition, and his endearing personality. Although he was not the main character of the series, his talent gave him main character energy.
If you’ve ever done the “Cha Cha Slide” then you owe DJ Casper a debt of gratitude. There are certain songs that will outlive all of us for the way they perfectly capture a mood or moment in time. What William Perry Jr. created is literally timeless and society is better place for it.
Mr. Clarence Avant has done so much for so many people for so long that there really isn’t a proper word to describe him. All we can say is, “Thank you”.
The outpouring of love that Magoo got when news broke of his passing was both beautiful to see and sad at the same time. As an innovative part of the Virginia collective that helped foster the talents of both Timbaland and Missy Elliott, it didn’t feel like he was given the flowers that he should have been while he was alive. Rest in peace, brotha. We’re grateful.
Ron Cephas Jones
You might not know every character that Ron Cephas Jones played during his illustrious career as a thespian but you know for a fact that when you see him appear on screen that he was going to move you. He was an artist and he was skilled at his craft. His work on This Is Us is guaranteed to make you ugly cry. Don’t take our word for it. Go find out yourself.
This was a complete shocker and we are still extremely sadden over the passing of Irish Grinstead. As a member of 702 she helped shaped 90s R&B music with her girls by her side.
Between her work on television as bubbly blonde Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company and her subsequent career as a an entrepreneur-owner of the Thigh Master workout gear, Suzanne Somers left an unforgettable mark on pop culture in the 80s and early 90s. She also was a trailblazer in the fight for equal pay for women. A fight that still continues to this day. Respect due.
Mark “The 45 King” James
Some of you may be unfamiliar with Mark “The 45 King” but without the Bronx, New York native’s creative genius, songs like Eminem’s “Stan”, Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life”, the numerous songs he produced for Queen Latifah would never have existed. Do your research and pay homage.
THEE John Shaft. All due respect to Samuel L. Jackson but Richard Roundtree is the OG of OGs and must be respected as such. By all accounts, he was as good a man and mentor as he was the coolest mofo to ever don a leather trench coat.
Friends fans were devastated to hear about the sudden passing of star Matthew Perry. He spent a great deal of his adult life fighting demons and was never shy about using his own personal experiences in an effort to help others who struggled.
While many of us were clamoring to see Usher perform one of his many viral shows during his residency in Las Vegas, the loss of drummer Aaron Spears undoubtedly made it difficult for the singer to continue. Spears was well-known in the music industry as one of the most talented musicians of his time was a dear friend to many. May he rest in peace.
To be an actor with a dramatic chops, uncanny comedic timing, and the ability to play just about any type of character presented to him is truly a gift. Andre Braugher was one of the greats who could hold his own against anyone on screen or stage with him at the time. Watching him put his art on display over the years was a joy and we truly hope that his family and friends find peace following his passing.
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