- Hip-hop stars and fans have paid tribute to American rapper Takeoff of the group Migos after he was shot dead at the age of 28.
The musician, whose real name is Kirshnik Khari Ball, was killed in Houston on Tuesday.
Ja Rule, Kid Cudi, Khalid, and Dave posted tributes on social media, while Rick Ross called him a “young legend.”
Migos was one of the most influential groups of their generation, pioneering a style of rap in choppy triplets and staccato known as the “Migos flow.”
The band, which broke up earlier this year, scored several international hits, including Bad and Boujee, Versace, and Walk It Talk It.
The shooting took place around 02:30 local time (07:30 GMT) on a balcony outside 810 Billiards and Bowling Alley, where Takeoff had been playing dice with his uncle and bandmate, Quavo.
Police said between 40 and 50 guests had been at a private party when someone opened fire. When they arrived, officers said they found a large crowd and a man with a gunshot wound to the head or neck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said two other people were injured and taken to a hospital in private vehicles.
No arrests have been made.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner pleaded with witnesses at the scene to come forward.
“Please step up, send us the information so we can shut down a little bit this family that is suffering right now,” he said.
Takeoff’s attorney, Drew Findling, told the New York Times that the rapper’s death was “a devastating loss, particularly for Atlanta,” his hometown.
There was “a sense of peace about his aura,” Findling said, adding: “The world was starting to learn about Takeoff. It was his time to shine.”
Award-winning rapper Brit Dave shared a series of photos of himself and Takeoff on Instagram, along with the words, “My brother… The days we spend together are priceless.”
British rapper AJ Tracey said on Twitter: “Don’t take off! RIP”; while Atlanta singer Keri Hilson wrote, “Rest in peace. Heal love for your siblings, family, and friends. #gonetoosoon.”
Reality star Khloe Kardashian said on Twitter: “This is very sad. Wow! About what?? May God cover all who are suffering. These senseless acts have to end. So sad.”
Music executive Cole Bennett tweeted that “nothing makes sense anymore. Nothing at all”; and Juice Wayne posted a verse about Takeoff, saying “it will never make sense.”
“Takeoff [was] probably the least troublesome rapper,” actress Masika Kalysha added. “It doesn’t bother anyone and stays out of the way.”
Migos, formed by Takeoff, Offset, and Quavo, grew up together in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and went on to represent the state capital, Atlanta, arguably the spiritual home of trap music.
Takeoff said the music had offered the band, which were all related, an escape route from poverty.
“Growing up, I was trying to succeed in music. I was grinding, which is just what I loved to do. I had nothing else to do,” he told The Fader.
“In my spare time, I recorded myself. Find a rhythm… just do something and create for me. I would wait for Quavo to come back from football practice and play my songs for him.”
Originally called Polo Club, the band made their debut as Migos in 2010, and scored their first hit with Versace, which received a remix from Drake, in 2013.
‘The Beatles of this generation’
His rise came to a brief halt in 2015 when Offset was sent to jail after a police raid on the group’s tour bus after a show at Georgia State University.
Later that year, the trio released the mixtape Back to the Bando, which included the hit song Look at My Dab, which popularized the dabbing dance trend that was later picked up by athletes and even politicians.
They became mainstream in 2016 with Bad and Boujee, a viral hit whose quotable lyrics (“raindrop, top drop”) spawned multiple memes.
A slow-burning hit, it topped the U.S. charts two months after its release, thanks in part to an enthusiastic endorsement by actor and rapper Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino.
“I think they [Migos] are the Beatles of this generation,” he said during a speech at the Golden Globes in 2017. “That song, Bad and Boujee, is just flying.”
Takeoff’s non-appearance on that single caused minor controversy among fans, but he dismissed it, claiming that he was simply not available for the recording session.
Fueled by their success, the band’s second album, Culture, debuted at number one in the United States. The same year, the group collaborated with Calvin Harris on Slide, their only top 10 hit in the UK.
Their next album, Culture II, featured production by Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, as well as guest appearances from Nicki Minaj, 21 Savage, Cardi B, and Drake. Another U.S. number one, it spawned platinum hits MotorSport, Stir Fry, Walk It Talk It, and Narcos.
Around the same time, Offset began dating Cardi B, with whom he now has two children, Kulture and Wave.
Takeoff was the youngest member of the band and often the quietest in public.
“He analyzes a lot, that’s why I think his raps are so strong,” Offset told Rolling Stone in 2018. “It’s just powerful.”
The musician released a solo album, The Last Rocket, in 2018 before Migos reunited to record Culture III in 2021.
However, the band broke up earlier this year after a disagreement with Offset.
“We stand on real loyalty to the business, and sometimes that… it’s not shown,” Quavo told the Big Facts podcast earlier this year. “This has nothing to do with any label, no paperwork, no quality control, nothing. This had something to do with the three brothers.”
Takeoff and Quavo continued as a duo, releasing an album, Only Built For Infinity Links, which peaked at number seven on the U.S. charts last month.
Shortly before Takeoff’s death, the couple had released a Halloween-themed video for their single “Messy”.
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