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- American rapper (1985-2021)
Paras Griffin/Getty Young Dolph
Rapper Young Dolph was fatally shot in Memphis on Wednesday, police confirm. He was 36.
Maurice Hill, the owner of Makeda's, told WHBQ that the rapper, who was best known for his feature on the 2015 O.T. Genasis hit "Cut It," had entered his place of business to buy cookies when a vehicle approached and someone fired the fatal shot.
Spokespersons for the Memphis Police Department declined to comment on the victim's identity, but directed PEOPLE to a tweet reporting that officers were on the scene of a shooting at 2370 Airways that killed one male victim. A later statement from the department said preliminary information indicates the victim was Adolph Robert Thornton, Jr., a.k.a. Young Dolph, and that no suspect information is available at this time.
Chief CJ Davis is on the scene of the shooting in the 2300 block of Airways. Please see the update below. pic.twitter.com/88vikuTOpP
— Memphis Police Dept (@MEM_PoliceDept) November 17, 2021
Young Dolph broke onto the scene in 2016 with his debut album King of Memphis, and in the years since, continued to churn out at least one album each year.
His most recent project, a collaboration with his cousin Key Glock called Dum and Dummer 2, was released in March as a follow-up to 2019's Dum and Dummer, which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
"We were anxious to have fun on this album," Young Dolph told Billboard in March. "There's a song on there called 'Cheat Code' we recorded in LA, and we don't record music together, but we played that one back over and over. The song was too raw and too hard, and we were like, 'S—, let's make another 15 of these and put it out.' We knew we had to make another one — so we said, 'F— it, let's drop Dum and Dummer 2."
At the time, the outlet reported that Dolph had launched an indie record label called Paper Route Empire, and was scouting up-and-coming artists to help build a roster he hoped would one day dominate hip-hop radio.
"This has always been my plan and my vision, to build a strong team and build artists like Glock," Dolph told Billboard. "I always knew I could do it with artists, because I saw what I did for myself as an artist. I got the green light, and it's the beginning of what we are doing. Everyone is going to see this journey we're going on... I just signed a lot of artists within the last four months, and we got a lot of new music and content coming out. We're going to run circles around people at major labels."
In a 2020 story focusing on all Young Dolph had accomplished during the pandemic lockdown, GQ wrote that his songs "always ring out with gravitas and—either tauntingly, triumphantly, or gratefully—opulence."
During an interview with the magazine, Dolph said he'd been spending quality time with his family, which was "the number one reason why I've been enjoying" lockdown.
"This s— just make me realize how much good times I've been missing out on, just around the house," he said. "It ain't got nothing to do with money. Your money don't mean s—… It's all about your happiness."
The rapper also detailed the special time he'd been spending with his children Tre and Ari, who each got a shoutout on his single "Sunshine."
"We watching movies, we having [toy] gun fights, we on the trampoline, we doing everything," he said. "We playing. I'm in my daughter's room, I'm in her little castle thing she got. She crawl in, I'm crawling my big ass in that mother—er. I'm in their world right now. Everything they like to do, everything they play, I'm all in that world right now. I'm just a big-ass kid right now."
Young Dolph and his family members were also the founders of the IdaMae Family Foundation, a local nonprofit named after his grandmother that aimed to better their community.
As news of Young Dolph's death broke on Wednesday, tributes began to pour in on social media.
In an emotional Instagram, Keke Palmer recalled meeting Mia Jaye, Young Dolph's partner, on an airplane with their two children while the family was en route to visit him.
"When I found out her man was Dolph I fanned tf out," Palmer wrote. "To hear this news breaks my heart. The way folks moving these days seems unreal. Instead of being inspired or uplifted by someone's success there is nothing but jealousy and envy and this hurts me esp for our community. Everybody is trying to make it and is carrying other people on their back when they get wherever they're trying to go. When this happens you don't just take away that life but you hurt a million other people they were carrying."
She continued: "I'm sorry for your loss Mia and I'm sorry we lost you Dolph. Sending the most love I can conjure to these beautiful children that now have to grow up without their father. Rest in everlasting peace my brother."
Megan Thee Stallion also paid tribute, writing on Twitter: "I am sooo sick rn I am in disbelief! Praying for his family and friends! Rest In Peace to my friend a true legend dolph."
"Damn man RIP young dolph," Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell wrote on Twitter.
Rolling Loud, a popular hip-hop music festival, also paid tribute, writing: "LONG LIVE YOUNG DOLPH" alongside a photo of the rapper.
Young Dolph previously recovered from a shooting in Los Angeles in 2017, TMZ reported at the time.