As it happens7:09Rapper Takeoff’s death has the record producer wondering, “How is this real?”
A Canadian DJ and record producer says he doesn’t understand why anyone would take a shot at Takeoff, who he described as a “legend” in his field and “the coolest guy”.
Takeoff – whose first name was Kirsnick Khari Ball – was fatally shot outside a bowling alley in Houston on Tuesday.
At 28, he was the youngest member of Migos, a suburban Atlanta rap trio that also included his uncle Quavo and cousin Offset.
Police Chief Troy Finner said the young rapper was shot after an argument broke out among a group of 40 people who were leaving a private party. Police believe at least two people fired guns and are looking for any information to identify them.
Migos’ record company, Quality Control, said in a press release that Takeoff was killed by “a stray bullet”.
Alain Macklovitch, better known by the stage name A-Trak, is a DJ and founder of the Fool’s Gold label. He has worked with Migos for about eight years. Here is part of his conversation with As it happens host Nil Köksal on Takeoff’s hip-hop legacy.
You work with a lot of musicians, obviously. What sets you apart when you think of Takeoff?
The three Migos brought a real spark to the hip-hop scene.
They had a very recognizable flow – like a certain triplet cadence, like a certain meter of their flow – that was really recognizable right away. But also, they kind of rose at a time when there were fewer and fewer groups in hip hop. The biggest artists were going solo, and then you had these three guys from Atlanta, flashy dressed with really bubbly lyrics and streams.
I remember the first time I saw them play in person, I sort of made a joke of them saying they were like Snap, Crackle, and Pop. Like, they just seemed animated, you know? And Takeoff was probably the least flashy in terms of looks and personality, but for heads — for people who were really into rapping — he was perhaps the most gifted. He was a bit of a rapper’s favorite.
What sets him apart in terms of skills?
He had a sort of gruff, harsh voice. And in a way, Quavo kind of stood out early on, you know, with his melodic hooks. And Offset also had a kind of hook in his voice. And in a way, Takeoff took a bit of a step back, but really stuck with, like, serious rap – you know, denser, more lyrical rap.
The takeoff was described, as I heard, as the quietest of the bunch. And you sort of alluded to that. What did he look like?
He was more reserved. And so Quavo, personality-wise, sort of emerged as the de facto leader of the group. And he and Takeoff, you know, clearly through their family connection, have always been very close. So if you saw them, it was usually Quavo or Offset who were sort of in the foreground, coming to say hello, shaking your hand or whatever. But Takeoff was only one step behind.
He also seemed like the one you could sit around and joke around with a bit. Like what, he was very observant. And I think that comes with the personality of people who are a little less flashy, but still in the spotlight. You can tell he sits and watches.
Even regarding the family relationship, as I remember, he called Quavo “Unc”. Like, it was his uncle. Even though I think they were only a few years apart, there was still that dynamic between them.
They were together when he was killed, Quavo and Takeoff…. Is there any idea, you know, what happened there?
I have no idea. All I know is whatever, I can’t believe there’s yet another rap star, hip-hop star, who died so young. He is 28 years old. It’s like I almost forgot how young he was because I’ve known him for about eight years at this point… He must have been 20 when I met him.
They became stars so quickly. Even the first time I met them, they were already larger than life. You just sort of assumed they were, you know, grown adults, but they were still pretty young.
I have a friend [at] Spotify… and he just literally tweeted like a list of rappers who have passed in the last four years…. It’s completely heartbreaking to see that. Like, it really makes you wonder what’s going on in the world, you know?
I grew up with hip hop in the 90s though losing Biggie and Tupac…it shook the whole world. But in a way, that’s also all we could take. And then now, you think about it, you see this list, this enumeration of rappers who have died in the last two years, and it’s like, how is this real?
What kinds of conversations are you hearing, are you having, in the community, given all these deaths that you’ve been talking about?
It’s just surreal. It seems insane.
On the one hand, there is a kind of feeling like: who would kill Takeoff? Like, the coolest guy. This does not mean that one person deserves to die more than others. In no case am I saying that. But if you met this guy, really, would you just think who would kill this guy? Like, what goes through someone’s head to do that?
And you also feel that there was a kind of respect for people who are legends in their field. Like, there’s just some understanding that you don’t touch that person or that person, even if it gets into a world of street stuff and everything that might happen behind closed doors. Yet there would be a kind of silent contract, most of you don’t reach out to the person who is truly gifted and who can bring their entire community and family to better living conditions.
How did that happen ? How are some of these artists so accessible? How did a teenager manage to go to Pop Smoke and kill him? All these things. It shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be.
Hip hop is now the most popular genre in the world. You know, it’s been many years. So obviously there are entire generations who grew up idolizing these artists and, you know, these kids who grow up watching their favorite musicians die. And at this number, at this rate, it shouldn’t be either.
With files from The Associated Press. Interview conducted by Katie Geleff. The questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
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