The legacy of Takeoff: his death, career and impact

Image of rapper Takeoff performing in 2021.
Image of rapper Takeoff performing in 2021.
Contributed image.

Crystal Xue 

On Nov. 1, rapper Takeoff was shot to death outside of a downtown Houston bowling alley at the age of 28. A suspect is yet to be arrested for the shooting, which occurred at a private party.  

This abrupt news came as a shock to the millions of fans Takeoff and his hip hop group Migos had amassed. While few details have been released about the shooting, Houston police chief Troy Finner did have a message for the public.  

“Sometimes the hip-hop community gets a bad name, and I know a lot of great people in our hip-hop community and I respect them,” he said. “We all need to stand together and make sure nobody tears down that industry.” 

Given the troubling amount of famous hip hop artists who have died young, Finner cautioned the public about demonizing the genre. He stressed that there was no indication of Takeoff being involved in criminal activity and that he was likely an innocent bystander to violence at the time of his death.  

Takeoff was the youngest Migos and the quieter member of the trio. His uncle Quavo was the group’s front man, while Offset, his cousin and the husband of fellow artist Cardi B, also drew most of their audience’s attention.  

That said, Takeoff (born Kirshnik Khari Ball) played an integral role in the group. In fact, he was the one who originally caught the attention of Kevin Lee and Pierre Thomas, co-founders of Migos’ management company and label Quality Control.  

Earlier this year, Takeoff and Quavo had released their first album as a duo under the name “Unc & Phew”. This rebrand was the result of Offset leaving the group for unspecified reasons. 

Following Takeoff’s death, Offset changed his Instagram icon to a photo of Takeoff smiling with a white heart emoji. Cardi B also paid tribute to the late rapper by retweeting a video of him discussing the importance of family.  

In the video, Takeoff talks to Complex Music about a ring that features a photo of him and his mom. “It’s always going to stay with me, too,” the late rapper said. “I ain’t never going to take it off.”  

Ever since their debut single “Versace” in 2013, Migos has been performing the party anthems of millions. The group has been recognized by Billboard for “[influencing] pop culture and the entire English language by bringing their North Atlanta roots to the mainstream”.  

From “Bad and Boujee” featuring Lil Uzi Vert to “MotorSport” with Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, the group has churned out hit after hit. With a triplet flow and catchy trap sound, they have topped Billboard Hot 100 charts and won 2 Grammy Awards.  

“The Migos is their own thing,” said Toronto rapper Pressa. “They had their own culture… and sound. And I feel like a lot of people take their sound and kind of incorporate it.”  

Before his premature death, Takeoff made significant contributions to the hip hop community, pop culture and the music industry as a whole. His impact, both artistic and personal, will live on.

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