Lexii Alijai, a rapper from St. Paul who won fans around the world for her inspired flow and inspiring career, died on New Year’s Day at age 21. After family members confirmed the incredibly sad news on social media, the hip-hop community mourned the loss of a distinctive artist who’s gone too soon. “Saddest way to start a new year,” tweeted Kehlani, the star singer-songwriter who collaborated with Alijai on the track “Jealous.”
“I’m swallowing air right now that is heavy and empty,” wrote Maria Isa on Instagram. “I wish this wasn’t how 2020 started because you had so much more to shine on baby ma.” A cause of death has not been announced.
Alexis Alijai Lynch was born in St. Paul to a musical family: her father Roger Troutman Lynch Jr. was a rapper, and her grandfather Roger Troutman was a singer-songwriter-producer who was a member of the popular Ohio funk band Zapp. She began releasing music as Lexii Alijai when she was in her teens, earning critical acclaim and fervent fans who showed up at her shows knowing every word of her confessional, creative lyrics, treating her like the star she was rapidly becoming.
Fellow artists and music gatekeepers took note. 2016 was a breakout year that saw Alijai play showcases including First Avenue’s Best New Bands, The Current’s Artists to Watch, and Soundset. In addition to a series of mixtapes, in 2017 she released her official debut LP, Growing Pains. Along with Kehlani, her collaborators included Wale, Ashley DuBose, Elle Varner, Rocky Diamonds, and Shaun Sloan. Critics called her “a talented technician well beyond her years” and a “budding superstar.”
Alijai, whose lyrics often zeroed in on relationships, told City Pages, “I just say stuff that every girl goes through, and they just can’t say it. I just wanna make the guys better, too.”
“You had such an old soul and a sense of self-confidence that I genuinely admired,” wrote K. Raydio on Instagram, “and you were a decade younger than me. You were an ascending star.”
Kehlani, devastated, shared a series of tweets and images paying tribute to Alijai. “Imma miss you so bad,” she wrote. “You was about to get everything you always talked about.”
I LOVE YOU. SO. MUCH. pic.twitter.com/lzBlvtPRF9
— Kehlani (@Kehlani) January 2, 2020