Lil Tay not actually dead

Lil Tay

Child rapper Lil Tay is alive. (Lil Tay via Instagram)

It turns out that Lil Tay, the Canadian internet child rapper, is not actually dead.

One day after it was announced on her official Instagram account that she and her brother, 21-year-old Jason Tian, had both died, the provocative performer and social media influencer who found internet fame at age 9 with her foul-mouthed antics and cash flashing before abruptly dropping off social media in 2018, has surfaced to say it was a hoax and that her account was hacked.

“I want to make it clear that my brother and I are safe and alive, but I’m completely heartbroken and struggling to even find the right words to say,” Tay told TMZ on Thursday. “It’s been a very traumatizing 24 hours. All day yesterday, I was bombarded with endless heartbreaking and tearful phone calls from loved ones all while trying to sort out this mess.”

She said her Instagram account “was compromised by a 3rd party” and it was “used to spread jarring misinformation and rumors regarding me, to the point that even my name was wrong. My legal name is Tay Tian, not ‘Claire Hope.'” She thanked Meta, owner of Instagram, for helping her get back into her account.

What happened?

The good news comes amid a very strange 24 hours. On Wednesday, the announcement that Tay and her brother, an aspiring rapper, had died appeared on her account, which has 3.3 million followers.

(Lil Tay via Instagram)

(Lil Tay via Instagram)

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the devastating news of our beloved Claire’s sudden and tragic passing,” the Instagram message said. “This outcome was entirely unexpected and has left us all in shock. Her brother’s passing adds an even more unimaginable depth to our grief. During this time of immense sorrow, we kindly ask for privacy as we grieve this overwhelming loss, as the circumstances surrounding Claire and her brother’s passing are still under investigation.”

The post has since been deleted, but the news of the two deaths was confirmed by Tay’s management to Variety. However, doubts quickly grew. Media outlets weren’t able to confirm the deaths in Vancouver or the Los Angeles area, where she has resided. Tay’s ex-manager Harry Tsang told outlets that the situation called for “cautious consideration” and said he “cannot definitively confirm or dismiss the legitimacy of the statement issued by the family.” Tay’s own father, Christopher Hope, was reached at his law office by the New York Post and said he was “not able to give you any comment right now. I’m sorry — I can’t.” Asked whether someone else could confirm the news, he said, “Um, no, not that that I’m aware of.”

A history of family drama

Tay became well known for brow-raising social media posts, which painted her, then 9, as living a lavish rapper life in Hollywood. She’d curse, flash wads of cash, pose by fancy cars she was way to young to drive and describes herself as the “the youngest flexer of the century,” who escaped poverty by “moving bricks,” which means selling drugs, according to Urban Dictionary. She drew backlash for using the N-word.


In 2018, Tay was the focus of a three-episode docuseries, Life With Lil Tay, about her road to stardom. Then, the same year, she abruptly stopped posting on social media. Her parents, also including mom Angela Tian, began a custody battle and fight over the child’s fortune. The exes were reportedly at odds about Tay’s career path. Along the way, the child’s Instagram account was used to harass her dad during the custody dispute. Then most of her old posts were deleted. At one point the words “help me” were posted to a story. It’s unclear exactly who has been managing the account.

In 2019, Tay — with her mom by her side — spoke to the Daily Beast about the “bad situation” she was in. She claimed her father filed court papers saying she was “in danger and stuff” and “threatening to … have my mom arrested.” She said she hadn’t seen him “for multiple years,” and “it’s obvious he just came back because he wants money.”

Since Tay’s announcement that her death wasn’t a hoax, there is no new update on the platform further trying to clarify these statements.

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