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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Young Dolph left an indelible legacy in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Two days before he was shot while shopping for cookies at his favorite bakery in Memphis, Tennessee, rapper Young Dolph visited a cancer center where his relative was being treated.

A 36-year-old man who grew up on the streets of Memphis was in town to hand out turkeys at church and other locations ahead of Thanksgiving. On Monday, he stopped by the West Cancer Center in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis, where he spent time with the medical staff and thanked them for the sympathetic concern for the relative, the center said in a statement.

Such return trips became commonplace in his life, which ended Wednesday when he was shot multiple times at Makeda’s Cookies, a popular Black family bakery known for its delicious buttery cookies and banana pudding. The harsh southern city that Young Dolph grew up in helped him create the material that would become the foundation of his influential hip-hop career – and ultimately where his life was taken.

“Our staff were deeply touched by his sincerity and eagerness to express such gratitude,” the cancer center said in a statement. “During his visit, Dolph explained that he would soon take the risk of donating turkeys to the Memphis community at various community centers around the city ahead of Thanksgiving, further testament to his generosity.”

A man lays flowers at the Young Dolph memorial outside Makeda’s Cookies bakery in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Justin Ford / Getty Images

Police continued to search for suspects in the murder that rocked Memphis and shook the entertainment world as yet another senseless act of gun violence against an African American. Police released surveillance footage Thursday showing two men exiting a white Mercedes-Benz and shooting Young Dolph before fleeing.

Since his murder, social media has been filled with messages of respect and love for the rapper, whose music discussed drug dealing, street crime and his crack-addicted parents, and hard-earned lessons of strength and resilience in the face of difficult circumstances. His legacy as an extremely independent artist and businessman is entrenched in the hip-hop universe.

His charitable campaigns have solidified his reputation in Memphis, a city plagued by poverty, gun violence and a disproportionately high incarceration rate for blacks. In 2020, Young Dolph donated $ 25,000 to Hamilton High School for new exercise equipment at his alma mater.

Earlier this year, he visited the children on Easter Eve at St. James Missionary Baptist Church. There he met Pastor Rodney Herron, who asked him to return to the humble church and distribute turkeys to the families before Thanksgiving.

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The rapper happily agreed and planned to hand out food on Friday. Despite his death, the event will continue, Herron said.

“He’s a good young man, he was down to earth,” Herron said. “I am desperate because I knew what the young man was doing for the community, how far he was going to go in the community. … He returned to where his heart was and always gave. “

Herron said Young Dolph was discussing buying a local community center. Herron said he wants to get the center renamed after the hip-hop artist.

The rapper was also scheduled to attend a festive event for the children of imprisoned parents at the church in December, said Tameka Greer, executive director of Memphis Artists for Change.

“His generosity knew no bounds,” she said in a statement. “Young Dolph does not deserve to die, as do the children, youth and adults who are killed every day by the use of firearms.”

Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., began his career by distributing CDs on the streets. He later released numerous mixtapes, starting with 2008’s “Paper Route Campaign”, and several studio albums. He has collaborated with fellow rappers Key Glock, Megan Thee Stallion, TI, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz and others.

“The streets know me, everyone already knows who I am,” he told VICE in 2014. “Real respect for the present, so if you can make Memphis love you, you need to have something real there. Memphis doesn’t support anyone. “

Like Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was assassinated in 2019, Young Dolph took an independent approach to the music business. His label Paper Route Empire retained control of his music.

Fans descended to the cookie store, where a statue of balloons and stuffed animals was growing steadily in front of boarded up windows. Cookies Makeda released a statement saying their owners are heartbroken over the death of Young Dolph, who recently appeared in an Instagram post promoting the store.

Outside the store, smoking a cigarette, Marquis Brand, a 31-year-old native of Memphis, said he went to the cookie store as a child with his grandmother and still does. Brand said he hated the rapper’s murder.

“It’s really sad because the worst can happen and you try to do your best with a big heart,” Brand said. “I’ve heard stories about how Dolph was good for people. Why get rid of good people? “

Associated Press reporters Ryan Pearson in Los Angeles and Joshua Housing in Munster, Indiana contributed to this report.

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