Nov 1, 2022 - News

Atlanta mourns death of Takeoff, the "heart and soul" of Migos

Migos rapper Takeoff

Takeoff performs onstage during Day 1 of the 2022 ONE MusicFest at Central Park. Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

The city of Atlanta and the music industry spent the first day of November trying to come to grips with the loss of one of its own.

What happened: Kirshnik Ball, better known as Takeoff and part of the rap trio Migos, was shot and killed early Tuesday in Houston. He was 28.

  • A Houston police spokesperson tells Axios a call for a shooting at 1199 San Jacinto St. came in at 2:40 a.m. The caller reported hearing gunshots and seeing people running.

Details: Migos — a family group made up of Takeoff, Quavo and Offset — got its start in 2008 in Lawrenceville.

  • The three were raised together. Quavo is Takeoff's uncle and Offset is his cousin.
  • Takeoff attended Berkmar High School in Gwinnett County.

What they're saying: Fans and celebrities were quick to condemn the shooting and remember the late rapper.

  • Hawks guard Trae Young simply tweeted "No f–king way." Takeoff was often spotted courtside at Hawks games and other NBA events alongside Quavo.
  • Bernice King tweeted her condolences: "I mourn that such frivolous violence has ended your life."
  • The Falcons also paid tribute, sharing a picture and saying "Takeoff’s legacy lives on in Atlanta and across the world."

The backdrop: Atlanta music journalist Jewel Wicker described Takeoff as the quietest of the Migos, but the group's rap backbone.

  • "He was not Cardi B's husband and not as popular in terms of fame as Quavo, but very much the heart and soul of the Migos," Wicker said.
  • She interviewed Quavo this summer and said he credited Takeoff with getting him involved in rapping. He also described his nephew as the better rapper of the trio.

Rap game influence: You probably have heard a Migos song or verse from Takeoff if you've been anywhere near a radio over the last decade, even if you think you haven't.

  • The group's first major hit came in September 2013 with "Versace." The song has since racked up more than 38.6 million views on YouTube and 26.5 million plays on Spotify.
  • Other hits include "Stir Fry," "Walk It Talk It," and "Fight Night." Takeoff released his lone solo album "The Last Rocket" in 2018.
  • Their triplet style and cadence has also been copied by artists like Drake and J Cole.

Viral moments: Outside of the music, Takeoff's most viral moments came via a few internet memes.

  • Migos appeared on James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke." After Corden pulled out a slide whistle, Takeoff's blank face turned into a Twitter staple.
Migos rap group members Takeoff and Offset
Migos rappers Offset (left) and Takeoff (right) became a viral meme after their 2018 appearance on James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke."
  • Another came during the 2017 BET Awards. Amid an interview with DJ Akademiks, an apparent communication issue led to Takeoff repeatedly asking, "Do it look like I'm left off Bad and Boujee?" before the interview ended abruptly.

What's next: After Takeoff's death, fans, music lovers and Atlantans are left to wonder what the future has in store for Quavo and Offset. Rumors spread this summer about a split as Takeoff and Quavo looked to move forward as a duo.

  • The two released a new song together yesterday titled "Messy."
  • Wicker said she's sure there is unreleased music that we will get to hear — but there are few guarantees beyond that.

My thought bubble: After a while, the phrases "gone too soon" or "rest in peace" feel like hollow expressions when a life is cut short due to senseless violence.

  • I'm the same age as Takeoff, and we both have deep Atlanta ties. My window into his world was through his music. I never met the man, but I do know his life was valued and he should still be here.
  • It's always startling when you see someone die who's the same age as you. Sometimes 28 feels old, but then you remember just how much life you have left to live. This is also a reminder to treat everyone with kindness and let the people in your life know you love them.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include details from Houston police.

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