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A Memphis hero was killed on Wednesday after visiting a local business he'd mentioned loving.
Rapper and entrepreneur Young Dolph, whose given name was Adolph Thornton Jr., was just 36 years old when an unknown assailant reportedly drove by Memphis institution Makeda's Butter Cookies and shot the rapper as he was patronizing the store, according to the Associated Press.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Memphis Police Department. They've made no statements about potentials suspects at this time.
Makeda's, a Black-owned business that Dolph recently said in an Instagram video he stops at whenever he is in the area, announced on Facebook that they would be closed in response to the tragedy and offered condolences to the rapper's family. The windows were heavily damaged in the shooting, as seen in video from Memphis Fox affiliate WHBQ. Pictures taken by Memphis CBS affiliate WREG's Quametra Wilborn on Thursday morning show the location boarded up and a growing memorial at the site.
Dolph had moved to Memphis with his family as an infant, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal; in a 2018 documentary, "Turned Dirt Into Diamonds," he said he'd been raised by his grandmother but attempted to help his parents "clean their life up" after he found success, according to the AP. His cousin, Mareno Myers, told The Daily Memphian that the rapper had come to town on Monday to visit with an aunt who had cancer and participate in his annual turkey giveaway through the the Memphis Athletic Ministries.
Dolph began his rap career in 2008 with a series of mix tapes, one of which — 2011's "Welcome to Dolph World" — catapulted him to stardom, according to WREG. He established his own record label, Paper Route Empire, in order to retain control over all his music and remain independent, according to the AP. It worked: he debuted his first studio album, King Of Memphis, to commercial success and good reviews in 2016. Billboard tweeted in July that 10 of his hits had made the Billboard Top 200.
The album, though, led to disputes with other Memphis-based rappers, who took exception to its title. After series of back-and-forth diss tracks with one rapper, Yo Gotti (whose given name is Mario Mims) — a feud the Commercial Appeal says is ongoing — Dolph's car was shot up after a performance in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2017; he was uninjured, but an associate of Gotti's, Blac Youngsta, was arrested in the case before the charges were ultimately dropped in 2019.
Dolph himself was injured after a shooting outside the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles in September 2017, according to The Guardian.
He released the album, "Bulletproof," in April 2017, "Thinking Out Loud" in October 2017, a February 2018 EP called "N***** Get Shot Every Day," another studio album called "Role Model" in September 2018, two collaborative albums with his cousin, fellow Memphis rapper Key Glock, both called "Dum and Dummer" in 2019 and 2021, a solo album called "Rich Slave" in 2020 and what turned out to be his final project while he was alive, a compilation album called "Paper Route Illuminati," in July 2021.
Dolph is survived by his two children, according to WREG, and numerous other family members.
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