Takeoff, the third member of Migos alongside the rappers Quavo and Offset, has died. The 28-year-old rapper, real name Kirshnik Khari Ball, was fatally shot at a bowling alley in Houston where he and Quavo were playing dice around 2.30am; Takeoff was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people on the premises were shot and taken to hospital while Quavo was unharmed. TMZ first reported the news, which was later confirmed by a local Houston outlet, this morning (1 November).
On Twitter, friends and admirers paid tribute to the late rapper. “I remember Takeoff being a very down to earth, cool dude,” wrote boxer Chris Eubank Jr. “Can’t believe I’m having to say this again about another young Black star being killed for no reason, something really has to change in the industry.”
Gucci Mane, who often collaborated with Migos responded to the news with “R.I.P.” while Ja Rule wrote: “this shit has to STOP … sending love to friends and family.” Lloyd Banks called him a “very dope artist gone too soon” and Ugly God tweeted that Migos “changed the whole cadence of rap”.
Takeoff was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, in 1994. Raised with Quavo – his uncle, but only three years older than him – by Quavo’s mother Edna, he began rapping from an early age. In his book Rap Capital: An Atlanta Story, Joe Coscarelli says that Takeoff “put the most early hours into the craft of rapping” of the three members of Migos, and was greatly inspired by Lil Wayne’s rap group the Hot Boys, as well as the Tupac, Biggie and OutKast albums they would buy at the local flea market.
In 2008, Takeoff, Quavo and Offset – Takeoff’s cousin – began rapping under the collective name Polo Club, and in 2011, the trio released Juug Season, their debut mixtape as Migos. “Growing up, I was trying to make it in music. I was grinding, which is just what I loved doing,” Takeoff told the Fader in 2017. “Just making something and creating for me … I was getting my own pleasure out of it, because it’s what I liked doing. I’d wait for Quavo to get back from football practice and I’d play my songs for him.”
In 2013, Migos released Versace, their first mainstream hit. The song was notable for popularising the triplet flow – Migos’ signature rapid-fire cadence – within modern rap, and was eventually remixed by Toronto rapper Drake, who would go on to have a long-running association with all three members of the group.
Migos are best known for their 2016 Lil Uzi Vert collaboration Bad and Boujee, which peaked at No 1 in the US, as well as Top 10 hits MotorSport, with Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, and Walk It Talk It, with Drake. (Although Bad and Boujee is credited to Migos, Takeoff did not actually appear on the song or in its video.) As a solo artist, Takeoff released one album – 2018’s The Last Rocket, which debuted at No 4 in the US – and one record as a duo, last month’s Only Built for Infinity Links, with Quavo.
In August 2020, Takeoff was sued for sexual battery by a woman who said that the rapper had assaulted her at a party in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department opened an investigation into the rapper but the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office declined to press criminal charges, citing a lack of evidence.
The Guardian has approached representatives for Takeoff for comment.
This article was amended on 1 November 2022. Takeoff does not rap on the Migos song Bad and Boujee as an earlier version said.
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