Rapper Fredo Santana, 27, dies in Los Angeles
The Chicago drill rapper was highly respected in the hip-hop community.
If rapper Fredo Santana’s aim was to become a global entity, he didn’t fall short. The news of the Chicago native’s passing on Friday (Jan. 19) went around the world. A Google search on his name, which was trending on Saturday, showed articles in Spanish, Russian, French and more.
Santana was a relentless rapper with a penchant for channeling the menace of the South Side streets through his music. Born Derrick Coleman in 1990, he released the album “Trappin’ Ain’t Dead” in 2013, which debuted in the 45th spot on Billboard’s rap and R&B charts. Santana’s highly anticipated album nudged ASAP Ferg’s “Trap Lord” by a few spots on the chart when both debuted in late October of that year. “Trappin” also featured the hard-hitting collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, “Jealous”.
Santana was widely respected in the hip-hop community and followed his early rise with a cameo in Drake’s 2013 “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” The rapper liked to talk about how he wasn’t into music for the money; he was into it for his fans, friends and most importantly, his family.
But Santana’s image and OG status, plus a childhood reportedly spent selling drugs, made him an ideal representative of Chicago’s drill music scene. He joined his cousin Chief Keef in the national spotlight, thanks to an appreciation for his music by Kanye West.
“I rap about struggle, heart, life in Chicago,” he said in a 2013 interview for Noisey.
Coming of age on the South Side of Chicago, Santana—who had a tattooed cross on his forehead and teardrops below his eyes from the time he was in his late teens—reached major acclaim when he was name-checked and appeared all over the 2012 video for Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like.”
The 27-year-old Santana also became a Chicago legend in his own right long before he reached national acclaim. Although his buzz peaked some five years ago, he continued to appear on albums and to add to his body of work through mixtapes. Santana released the well-received “Walking Legend” mixtape in 2014 to prove that he an impact on his city and on hip-hop culture.
The cover art to the project was startling; it featured a grainy photograph of Santana’s father cradling him in one arm and holding up a handgun in the other. He had been working on the follow-up, “Walking Legend 2”, when he became ill late last year.
Santana was public about his health crisis. In October, Santana was hospitalized and revealed on his Instagram account that he was being treated for liver and kidney failure.
He had become serious recently about laying off a drink called Lean or Purple Drank, a mix of codeine-based cough syrup, soda, and hard-flavored candy. The beverage, which has been rumored to be one of the causes behind several rap deaths, including Houston’s Pimp C, was something Santana had been working to quit.
Santana unfortunately joins the so-called “27 Club,” the list of musicians who met an untimely death at 27 years old. The list also includes Amy Winehouse, Houston rapper Fat Pat, rocker Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix, among many others. Drugs and drug overdoses factored into many of these high-profile deaths.
Officials in Los Angeles did not release the cause of Santana’s death but told news media that autopsy results were pending.
TMZ reported that the rapper died from a fatal seizure and was found dead by his girlfriend at his home in Reseda, Los Angeles. He is survived by a son, Legend Derrick Coleman, who was born over the summer.