Naj Murph, the up-and-coming rapper from Newburgh, New York, has died at the age of 30 following a seizure. Murph passed away on January 7.
Murph’s sad passing was confirmed in a Facebook post from his mother, Lisa Ross, on January 8. Murph’s cause of death was confirmed in a Facebook post from his collaborator Suni Solomon.
According to Murph’s Facebook page, he was a native of Newburgh, New York, who fell in love with music at a young age after spending time around his father’s record store. That bio reads in part, “His everlasting love for hip-hop continued to grow until he could no longer avoid his destiny of being a hip-hop legend.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. During His Tragically Short Life, Murph Also Worked as a 5th Grade Teacher & in Health Insurance
Murph was a graduate of Morehouse College. According to his LinkedIn page, Murph studied political science and government at the school, graduating in 2011. Between July 2016 and June 2017, Murph worked as a fifth-grade teacher at the International Academy of Smyrna in Georgia.
Since August 2018, Murph had been working as a Quality Assurance Specialist for Ailera Healthcare in Atlanta. A colleague of Murph’s, Donna Huntley, paid tribute to the rapper on Twitter writing, “The musician, known to the Aliera family as Najee Murphy, went to be with the Lord today. A rare shining star, & a blessing to this world, I want his family to know how much he meant to us. Please share this with them. We loved working with him.”
Murph wrote on his LinkedIn bio, “Excellence is a result of intent.” Murph added, “I am highly motivated and always eager to learn. My attention to detail and active listening skills allow me to perform on a high level and take on critical projects.”
2. Murph Returned to His Native New York in the Summer of 2019 to Further His Music Career
On his Instagram page, Murph makes reference to appearing in the television series, “Little Women: Atlanta.” His name does not appear on the show’s IMDb page. This was Murph’s last Instagram post, which came on January 6:
Murph linked to his SoundCloud page on his Instagram bio. Murph wrote on that page that he had recently returned to his home city of Newburgh, New York, from Atlanta. Murph said that he had returned to the Empire State and had “returned home to be met with commencement speeches, impromptu block-party freestyles and tons of love from his city.” Posts on Murph’s Facebook page show that he moved back to New York in the summer of 2019.
3. Murph Described His Influences as Busta Rhymes, Nas & Mase
Murph told Respect Magazine in a July 2012 interview he described his influences as “Busta Rhymes, Nas, the Fugees, but more so the Bad Boy camp in its entirety. I used to pretend that I was Ma$e in 2nd grade.” During the interview, Murph also discussed a rap collective he had started with his fellow Morehouse graduates, known as Student Union.
When asked to describe his music, Murph said, “Promising and purposeful. The charisma and the energy I put in a song lets listeners know that I’m improving every time I think about creating and also that I’ll be around for a while.” At the time, Murph was working on his second album, “The Crowning,” which followed his debut effort, “Heir Murph.”
In an online bio, it’s written that Murph was raised by his mother due to his father’s nine and half year incarceration. That profile says that Murph released his first mixtape, “Opening Act,” while he was a student at Morehouse.
That same bio details Murph’s time as an elementary school teacher saying, “Apart from music, Murph’s passion for the youth has influenced him to become an Elementary School Teacher. His mission is to use his platform to inspire the youth and help them navigate toward their dreams as he has himself.”
4. In 2012, One of Murph’s Songs Was Used in a GQ Video Featuring Tyler the Creator & Fashion Icon Glenn O’Brien
In 2012, one of Murph’s songs, “J-Walking,” was used as a background track by GQ Magazine for a video showing rapper Tyler the Creator and fashion icon Glenn O’Brien discussing clothing label, Supreme. In October 2019, Murph wrote about that experience on his Instagram page saying, “That one time when @feliciathegoat & the late Glenn O’Brien talked over my track about @supremenewyork and did a photoshoot for @gq ? Wouldn’t have been possible without @markanthonygreen ?? It hits a little different when your name is in the credits.”
On his bio, Murph said that the success of the GQ video led to be him being asked to be the opening act for rappers such as Slick Rick and French Montana.
5. Murph Holds the Longest Reign as ‘Tight 32 Champion’
During 2018, Murph held the title of “Tight 32 Champion” for the longest reign in history. The contest is run by Patchwerk Recording Studios and seeks to find rappers who “can deliver the tightest 32 bars over one of the 3 beats.” Murph told I Do Music in 2018 that he first entered the competition as a joke.
When speaking about the contest, Murph said, “Hip-hop is like a sport.” He added that thanks to his reign as champion, he had been contacted by producers who had complimented “his consistency, style, and even offering to send beats.”