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As music industry mourns Takeoff, we shouldn't blame rappers for hip-hop scene violence

Takeoff, a Georgia-born rapper of Migos fame, was shot and killed earlier this week at only 28. – Photo by SAINT / Twitter

Takeoff, born Kirshnik Khari Ball, was shot and killed in the early hours of Tuesday morning outside of a bowling alley during a private party in Houston. He was 28 years old. 

Two other people were also injured in the shooting and were taken to the hospital in private cars with injuries that were not life-threatening, according to Michael Arrington, a sergeant with the Houston police department's homicide division.

The Georgia native was part of the rap trio Migos which also includes his cousin, Offset, and his uncle, Quavo. Offset recently split from the group due to personal issues. Following the split, the rebranded Unc and Phew duo Quavo and Takeoff released an album together in early October titled "Only Built For Infinity Links."

Raised together by Edna Marshall, Quavo's Mother, in Gwinnett County, Georgia, Migos has been making music since the rappers were in high school. Takeoff created beats for the trio while Offset and Quavo were at football practice. Takeoff eventually convinced them to join him on his music journey, which resulted in Migos.

"Takeoff was really the glue of the Migos," said A.R. Shaw, author of "Trap History: Atlanta Culture and the Global Impact of Trap Music."

He added, “They kind of followed him, even though he was the youngest. A lot of people consider him the best lyricist in the group, even though he was more quiet and reserved.”

Takeoff’s deep, heavy, bass-filled sound stood out against the other members of Migos and has been said to be one of the main contributors to the group's success.

In an interview with Apple Music back in 2018, Quavo called Takeoff the "best one out of all of us." Takeoff subtly asked him to ease up on the boasting, showing that Takeoff was the most humble in the group. 

With a unique triplet flow, Migos have topped the charts on countless occasions. The group earned a Grammy nomination for the album "Culture," which went No. 1 on the Billboard 200. In 2018, Migos was also nominated at the iHeartRadio Music Awards for best group of the year. Aside from albums with the group, Takeoff released one solo album in 2018 titled "The Last Rocket."

Gun violence in the hip-hop world — and in the world in general — is increasing at alarming rates. The hip-hop community hasn’t had enough time to grieve the loss of rapper PnB Rock who was shot in September of this year, and the long list of other artists who lost their lives to gun violence includes Nipsey Hussle, Pop Smoke and XXXtentacion. 

Gun violence should not be as prominent a problem as it is today, and it is hard to point fingers at who needs to be held responsible for preventing such tragedies. In an Instagram post by Impact, the author makes the point that rappers create their music based on their real-life experiences.

The post states, “Many critics have placed blame on the rappers, but little responsibility has been placed on the labels profiting off of the musicians or governing officials who are ignoring the conditions that inspire their music.”

The murder of these rappers reflects a larger issue within the community and is not caused by their lyrics. The amount of fame these rappers have will never be enough to protect them from the dangerous environments they face when they return home, and there will always be people out there who will target them.

In February of this year, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) declared a war on drill rap, a genre of music, after his son showed him some drill videos and said it was “alarming.”

"He was so distraught that he announced plans to ask social media platforms to ban the videos, speaking to their supposed 'civic and corporate responsibility' to censor art," according to Complex.

This direct target on musicians producing hip-hop songs about drugs and violence should not be the focus. Instead, he should redirect his focus toward the rising poverty rates that cause people to resort to crime and set an example for other community leaders.

Gun violence in the music world affects more than just the music industry — it also has a large impact on artists' families and friends. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner met with Takeoff’s mother in the aftermath of his death.

“It doesn’t matter how famous you are. You may not be famous at all," Turner said. "Anybody who loses his or her life is a life lost, and there are family members and friends who are grieving as a result.”

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