Minnesota rapper Lexii Alijai, best known for her remixes and collaboration with artist Kehlani, died unexpectedly, her family announced on New Year's Day.
The 21-year-old from St. Paul, whose full name is Alexis Alijai Lynch, had cultivated acclaim and a large, loyal following with her empowering lyrics and remixes, as well as her collaborations with artists like Elle Varner.
Details about her death were not immediately released.
A spokesperson for the St. Paul Police Department told BuzzFeed News that they "do not have any reports related to Ms. Lynch." However, the artist's family announced the news on Facebook Wednesday, calling her sudden death "a nightmare," and told BuzzFeed News that Lynch had died on Wednesday.
"You’ve touched so many souls," her cousin Raeisah Clark wrote. "Heaven better be good to you cause they lucky to have you."
While her appearance on Kehlani's 2015 single "Jealous," which made it onto Billboard's Top 40 and was part of a Grammy-nominated album, cemented her as a rising hip-hop star, Lynch had been creating original music and remixes since she was young.
She was "committed and dedicated" to her music and always "knew exactly what she wanted to be," her cousin LaMycha Jett told BuzzFeed News on Thursday.
Jett, who is 10 years older than Lynch, remembers babysitting her younger cousin and said watching her move up "on her way to the top" was an amazing experience.
"She was loving, caring, sweet, humble," Jett said. "She gave hugs all the time and her departure words were always 'I love you.' She had a passion for art and creating writing. Alexis is beautiful inside and out."
In 2014, Lynch officially released her first mixtape on her 16th birthday, Super Sweet 16’s. Two years later, she performed at the Soundset Music Festival alongside artists like Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, Post Malone, and A$AP Rocky.
Her album Joseph's Coat "showed off her Aaliyah-meets-Allan Kingdom, sing-songy rapper style and knack for writing about family, relationships and feminism," the Star Tribune noted. And in 2017, she debuted her first full-length, 16-track project, Growing Pains.
While still in high school, the rapper went viral by rapping over songs like Drake's "Girls Love Beyoncé," Dej Loaf, 2Pac, Meek Mill, and Nas. Her clips on YouTube and SoundCloud have amassed millions of plays, views, and likes.
She posted frequently on Twitter and Instagram, where she had nearly 87,000 followers combined, and was active right before she died, showing no signs that anything might be wrong. On the morning of Dec. 31, she tweeted happy birthday to David Ali, Kehlani's manager, and later that evening shared a New Year's memory from 2013.
"Stayin in the crib as usual on New Years...lont do parties. I hope everyone has fun, be safe!" the artist wrote years ago and then reposted on Facebook Tuesday with the praying hands emoji.
On Wednesday, fans filled her last posts with messages of hurt, shock, and remembrance. Over and over, they wrote "gone too soon."
Also stunned by the news of her death, hip-hop artists took to social media to share emotional tributes celebrating Lynch's talent and character, mourning the loss of a musician who was only just beginning.
In her remembrance, Kehlani posted photos of herself and the young rapper, writing how "sick," "angry," and heartbroken she was.
"You got my heart on the floor right now lex," she said. "You were such a star to me because every word you spoke was true. every word you wrote was honest...You was supposed to go take over the world lex. you was supposed take home the trophies and hang the plaques up."
Bas, a well-known Sudanese American rapper from New York, expressed his shock and sadness on Twitter. Lynch had opened for Bas last year during his Milky Way tour.
"It was an honor to know you, work with you, and be a mentor to you," Elle Varner wrote.
According to her family, her death was sudden and unexpected. Clark, her cousin, was the first to publicly announce the news on Wednesday.
"Your a real Legend🎼 if you know her or heard her music you’d feel chills😔," she posted on Facebook. "Rest in paradise you’ll never be forgotten!👼🏽 I’m so lost for words...my beautiful cousin with so much talent & Unique soul Lexii Alijai It’s too soon💔"
Family was "everything to her," Jett, Lynch's other cousin, said. She grew up surrounded by talented musicians, including her grandfather, Roger Troutman, who fronted the funk band Zapp, and her father, Roger Troutman Jr., who recorded for Capitol records. Both men died when she was a baby.
Growing up, Lynch made sure to attend family functions "when she could" and spend time with her little cousins, who adored her, Jett said.
She also loved to play basketball and write, her cousin added, but her purpose and passion was music.
"She touched so many lives through her music," Jett said. "Alexis has a beautiful soul. She is a young legend. She knew exactly what she wanted to be."