Internet rapper Lil Tay dead at 14? Here’s everything you need to know

By Mason Berlinka

Published Aug 10, 2023 at 02:58 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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Internet dwellers like me will remember the fiasco that was Lil Tay’s debut onto the internet. Out of nowhere, the then immensely toxic YouTube scene was dominated with news that a 9-year-old flex offender was taking over LA.

Now, tragically it is being reported that Lil Tay, who’s real name is Claire Hope, has passed away, aged 14. Moreover, the man who’s considered responsible for getting Hope into the spotlight,her brother Jason Tian, is also considered to be dead.

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A post shared by Lil Tay (@liltay)

The news comes as a huge shock as gen Zers were reminded of the budding rapper who was the subject of numerous controversies and scrutiny during the late 2010s. So, who exactly was Lil Tay, what propelled her to influencer fame, and why are there so many doubts being cast over the announcement of her passing?

Who is Lil Tay?

Lil Tay was an influencer and wannabe rapper who dubbed herself “the youngest flexer in the world.” Hope’s videos were filled to the brim with wads of cash, luxury cars and expensive, designer clothes. The most polarising thing about the character of Lil Tay was the vulgar and offensive language used, despite her only being 9 years old at the time of her initial debut.

Hope really started to see traction on her character after she came after notorious content creator and diss tracker RiceGum, who of course made a lengthy video on the child to his audience of over 10 million subscribers, bringing her further to everyone’s attention.

Among Hope’s short-lived but meme-filled career was a spat with Daniele Bregoli aka Bhad Bhabie as well as getting to Facetime with and go live with 6ix9ine, and with XXXtentacion before his untimely death.

Hope’s virality resulted in tremendous amounts of concern over their safety and wellbeing, with fears spreading that she was being exploited by her older brother for views, as well as rumours that her welfare was in danger as a result of inattentive parents who were locked in a bitter divorce at the height of Hope’s fame.

Why are doubts being cast over whether or not Lil Tay has actually passed away?

The sudden announcement of Lil Tay’s passing after several years of silence from her Instagram account has put netizens on edge, as there seems to be several inconsistencies in the news. It’s important to navigate these rumours sensitively as all the world has to go off is a sudden Instagram post with little context, especially as it refers to Hope’s brother, who was once believed to be in control of the Lil Tay Instagram account.

An article from Insider has revealed that Hope’s father, Christopher Hope refused to comment on whether or not his daughter had passed away. In addition to this, Hope’s manager Harry Tsang called for “cautious consideration,” but also failed to confirm, nor deny the news. A  follow-up from Variety now states that Tsang did confirm to them that Hope was no longer with us.

Despite this, the internet couldn’t help but try to dig deeper into the tragic news, as a now deleted Instagram account with the handle “termanii” has surfaced, claiming to be Tian who has been locked out of the original Lil Tay Instagram account as a result of parental involvement. There is no way to verify the authenticity of this account, and naturally, numerous imposters have popped up alongside it, all hoping to cash in on some morally-ambiguous follower gains as people clamour for an answer.

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A post shared by Jonathan (@jonathanstar1987)

It was reported that the Los Angeles Police Department had no information on the death of Lil Tay as it hadn’t been reported to them, same for the Vancouver Police Department—where Hope would have grown up. This may have been a contributing factor to the claims that the news was a hoax by fanatical users online.

The accounts with the “termanii” handle have since been deactivated and rumours that Lil Tay’s passing is a hoax seem to be simmering down. Regardless of the outcome, our thoughts right now are with Hope’s family.

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