Honoring Takeoff


Takeoff performed with Migos at the 2019 BET Experience. (Source: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

On November 1, 28 year-old rapper Kirshnik Khari Ball, better known as Takeoff, was shot and killed in Houston, Texas. An argument occurred at a private party, which quickly escalated and led to the shooting. So far, no one has been arrested under suspicion of the murder, and the young rapper’s death has left the rap community heartbroken.

Chief Troy Finner of the Houston Police Department says, “Sometimes the hip-hop community gets a bad name. I’m calling up on everybody — our hip-hop artists in Houston and around the nation — we’ve got to police ourselves. There are so many talented individuals, men and women, in that community, who, again, I love and I respect, and we all need to stand together and make sure no one tears down that industry.”

Takeoff was a member of the rap group Migos, a trio composed of well-known rappers and family members Quavo and Offset. Originally from Atlanta, they found success in the city’s vibrant music scene, which had produced countless hip-hop pioneers such as Childish Gambino and Future.

Although they became local icons with their song “Versace” in 2014, the group first broke onto the global stage in 2017 following the release of their album Culture, which featured the hit “Bad and Boujee.” Despite their newfound fame, Billboard emphasizes that Migos remained loyal to their Southern beginnings, “influenc[ing] pop culture and the entire English language by bringing their North Atlanta roots to the mainstream.”

Takeoff’s impact has reached far past Atlanta. Migos is responsible for the popularization of the triplet flow, an innovative rapping technique Takeoff invented that reverberated throughout the industry,  embraced by renowned artists such as Travis Scott and Lil Wayne. The triplet flow, pioneered in Migos’s “Versace,” is fast-paced and experimental. Nolen Mounier (II) reflects, “It’s heartbreaking. Takeoff contributed greatly to Migos’s influence on the modern rap industry.”

In Atlanta, fans and citizens have taken to the streets to honor Takeoff in a celebration of his life. The city held a public memorial on November 11 at the State Farm Arena, where 21,000 people came together to mourn the loss of the young rapper. There, Quavo, Offset and other loved ones of Takeoff delivered heartfelt messages and stories about his legacy. Fellow musicians performed tributes to the late artist as well.

The memorial was entirely device-free, as attendees locked their phones and the ceremony banned media crews to ensure respect. Pastor Jesse Curney III, who heads services at the church Takeoff’s family attends, delivered the rapper’s obituary which outlined his success, kindhearted spirit and love for music. The obituary ended with a message from Takeoff’s family, who requested that fans donate to The Rocket Foundation, an organization created in his honor to prevent gun violence.

There is no doubt that Takeoff and Migos have had a monumental impact on the rap industry and community; their music has reached people all around the world. Fans will continue to honor Takeoff as an important voice in rap history.