Bo$$, hip-hop pioneer and the first female rapper signed to Def Jam, dies at 54

She released her first and only studio album, "Born Gangstaz," in 1993.

Bo$$, a rapper best known for her 1993 album Born Gangstaz and for being the first female rapper to sign with Def Jam, has died. She was 54.

The record label confirmed news of her passing with a statement on their social media Tuesday. "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Lichelle Marie Laws, also known as Bo$$," the statement read. "Bo$$ will be remembered as a pioneer in hip hop, being one of the first female rappers signed to Def Jam in the early 1990’s. We extend our prayers and condolences to her family and loved ones during this difficult time."

Further details about her death were not made publicly available, but according to Billboard, Laws had several health problems over the years, including renal disease and a stroke in 2017.

<p>Al Pereira/Getty</p>

Al Pereira/Getty

Laws was born in Detroit, but moved to Los Angeles alongside her DJ, Irene 'Dee' Moore. Her fortunes changed when she met DJ Quik, who connected her with others in the West Coast rap scene. From there, she was put on the radar of Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons, who was looking to form Def Jam West in LA. Laws became his first signee to DJ West and, according to reports, was also the first female rapper ever signed to Def Jam.

Under the name Bo$$, Laws released her only studio album Born Gangstaz in May 1993, which sold nearly 400,000 copies, peaking at No. 22 on the Billboard 200 and No. 3 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. It produced the singles "Deeper" and "Recipe of a Hoe." Additionally, Laws released two mix-tapes, and also featured on albums from AMG, South Central Cartel, Ice-T, Powerlord Jel, Spice 1, Ant Banks, Treach, Dori, Krayzie Bone, LaReece and more.

Several hip-hop artists have paid tribute to Laws on social media. Kurtis Blow took to his Instagram to share his condolences, writing: “The Hip Hip Alliance is saddened by the passing of our Beloved ‘BO$$.’ First Detroit Female Gangsta rapper signed to Def Jam. She will never be forgotten and will live in our hearts forever. We send our sincere condolences to her family, friends, Detroit, and the entire world. RIP legend.”

Bun B also shared a photo of Laws, writing, "Rest in peace to my big sis Lichelle Laws AKA Boss. One of the best female MCs and a dear friend. Give Rick Royal a hug for me. Long Live The Org!"

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