The names are a who's who of hip-hop: Biggie, Tupac and Jam Master Jay.
Look at the list and you're likely to think of red-hot talent, singular voices, multiplatinum success.
And early, brutal death.
Fans still remember them. Albums by these slain rappers -- especially Biggie Smalls (also called Notorious B.I.G.) and Tupac Shakur -- remain popular years after their deaths.
Mothers remember, too.
Several rappers' moms are finding ways to spread the word about the impact of violence and to give the world a different, more positive impression of their children.
Voletta Wallace, Biggie's mother, has created and named the Christopher Wallace Foundation after her son. In its seventh year of operation, the foundation provides books, scholarships and education material to in-need kids.
Biggie "was a giver, he gave his art, he gave his time . . . that's what the foundation is all about," Wallace told AllHipHop.com. The kids "are thinking BIG. The acronym for BIG is 'Books Instead of Guns,' because my son shared a love for life in his heart, and I would like to share something with all the youth of tomorrow. . . . Knowledge is a form of art."
And while many of these rappers -- including her son -- spoke of death, guns and violence in their songs, Wallace doesn't believe that lifestyle summed up his message.
"I taught my son to love, to care, to respect, to put his heart into whatever he did and do it with great honesty. And as a mother, that's how I feel," Wallace said.
"I don't know if it's a contribution to him or if it's a contribution to me, but every word from that pen that my son put down, I am proud of his work."
Jam Master Jay's mother, Connie Mizell-Perry, recently told the Associated Press that she "never dreamed anyone wanted to kill" her son but that she hasn't let the grief overwhelm her. She has launched the Jam Master Jay Foundation for Music, a partnership she formed with JMJ's brother, Marvin Thompson, to raise scholarship funds for high school students.
One of the JMJ Foundation's first projects is a plan to auction off the rapper's van -- replete with autographs from numerous stars he influenced in his career -- with proceeds going toward the scholarships. The van, dubbed the "J-Whip," has signatures from the likes of KRS-One, Dana Dane, Slick Rick, Mos Def and Russell Simmons.
"We were buying the van, and I started thinking about what to do with it," Thompson said in a VH1 interview earlier this year. "I'm like, 'Yo, why don't we get all the hip-hoppers from Afrika Bambaataa to Chingy to sign the van, wrap it with pictures of Jay, move it around the country for a little while, then put it on eBay and see what's it going to do?' "
Afeni Shakur is busy, too, when it comes to her son, Tupac Shakur. She founded a grass-roots organization, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, a year after Tupac's still-unsolved murder in 1996.
"I felt like I had done the work for my son," Afeni Shakur told RapNewsDirect.com. "I had to make sure that his story was out and that his story was told right."
Shakur, whose new book "Evolution of a Revolutionary" details her late son's life and roots, said that "going to speak to students and promote the book is my way to say, 'Thank you for saving my child.' School was all he had then."