Austin artist Jacob Tyler Thureson, better known under the name Hella Sketchy to fans of his hazy rap/R&B songs, died on June 27. He was 18. His father, filmmaker Erik Thureson, confirmed his son's death on Twitter on Thursday.
"You are not supposed to go before your father or grandfather. That’s not supposed to happen," Erik Thureson wrote, sharing a family photo of the young artist who had recently signed to APG/Atlantic Records after racking up thousands of streams on Soundcloud and YouTube for his self-titled debut album.
In a series of tweets, Erik Thureson explained that his son was Jacob was "found unresponsive on June 13th from an apparent drug overdose." He was revived and taken to the hospital where he spent 14 days in a coma, Erik Thureson wrote, adding, "Never in a million years would I have imagined that it would end like this."
Part 2#ripsketchy#ripjacob#riplittlebuddy Jacob was found unresponsive on June 13th from an apparent drug overdose. He was revived and brought to the ER where he’s been in a coma for 14 days.
Never in a million years would I have imagined that it would end like this.pic.twitter.com/1Y1tFs1SO3
Jacob Thureson was candid about his struggles with drug addiction in his music. "Used to make fun of my drug use/You ain't never had a struggle with the abuse/But I'm clean for once in a blue moon," he rapped on the track "What Happened" off his debut album. Three days before he was reportedly hospitalized, he referred to himself as a "sober drug addict" on Twitter.
After he was hospitalized, his mother, Judy Salgado Thureson, posted updates on his treatment to the Facebook page for the Get Inspired Movement, an organization described as "a community that exists to encourage and equip people to live out their destiny." In a June 20 post, she shared screenshots of texts and social media messages from her son.
"I’m so happy that not a day went by without telling my son I loved him. Today is no different. I’m grateful for today, to be by his side, to give him kisses, and to hold his hand. I love you Jacob. You are so deeply loved by so many people all around the world," she wrote.
In a stream of Twitter messages posted on Thursday, Erik Thureson used his son's death to highlight the opioid crisis in America. "The opioid epidemic does not discriminate. The conversation regarding drugs, depression, mental illness, social media, needs to be happening more openly without judgment and stigma," he wrote.
Part 3#ripsketchy#ripjacob#riplittlebuddy The opioid epidemic does not discriminate. The conversation regarding drugs, depression, mental illness, social media, needs to be happening more openly without judgment and stigma.
Jacob’s life was not and will not be in vain.pic.twitter.com/yy3Q6sbhtO
A GoFundMe account has been set up by a friend of the family to help defray medical expenses and costs associated with Jacob Thureson's memorial. According to a post on the fundraising site, "Any other funds collected will go into producing a very important documentary creating awareness on the opioid epidemic plaguing our nation and getting honest about the effects of mental illness and depression on our youth."
Jacob Thureson's record label, APG/Atlantic, released a statement about his death to publications like Billboard and Complex magazine: "The tragic passing of Hella Sketchy is a devastating loss. He was an enormously creative, sensitive soul with a brilliant sense of humor. He was just beginning to show the world his talent and originality, and it’s heartbreaking that such a bright future has been cut short. Everyone at APG and Atlantic sends our deepest condolence to his family, friends and fans."
A memorial for Thureson was held Saturday in Zilker Park. "What a lovely tribute for @hellasketchers my beautiful boy. Thank you ATX for loving my kid," Thureson's mother wrote in a post about the event on the Get Inspired Movement Facebook page.