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American rapper who was brutally shot to death 22 times

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Young Dolph, born Adolph Robert Thornton Jr., was a rising star in the world of hip-hop. Known for his distinctive style, unapologetic lyrics and entrepreneurial spirit, he captivated audiences with his raw authenticity and compelling storytelling. However, on that fateful day of November 17, 2021, tragedy struck and the music industry lost a promising talent.

His murder left a void in the hearts of his loved ones, fans and the music industry as a whole. So, what were the circumstances that led to the shocking and brutal demise of Young Dolph?

Young Dolph biography

Young Dolph by his car

Young Dolph, an American rapper, was born on July 27, 1985. He was originally named Adolph Robert Thornton Jr.

Dolph was born in Chicago, Illinois, but his family relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, when he was two years old. He grew up with two sisters and two brothers. Interestingly, he was second cousins with rapper Juice Wrld. Dolph’s upbringing was mainly shaped by his grandmother, Ida Mae, as his parents struggled with crack cocaine addiction. Consequently, he only saw his parents occasionally during his childhood.

Growing up in South Memphis, Dolph observed that many of his peers were also raised by their grandmothers due to similar parental challenges. Initially, he viewed his grandmother as strict and tough but as he grew older, he realised the wisdom in her teachings.

Although Dolph’s grandmother typically prohibited him from having friends over, she occasionally allowed homeless individuals to stay with their families. She battled lung cancer and passed away on March 5, 2008.

Dolph attended Hamilton High School.

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Young Dolph career

Young Dolph throwing signs

Dolph’s musical journey began in the early 2000s when he released his debut mixtapes, Paper Route Campaign and Welcome to Dolph World. These projects showcased his raw talent, clever wordplay and uncanny ability to craft catchy hooks. However, it was his mixtape series, High-Class Street Music, that made him gain recognition and build a loyal fan base.

Dolph’s breakthrough came with his 2014 mixtape, High-Class Street Music 4: American Gangster. The project featured the hit single Preach, which not only garnered critical acclaim but also gained significant airplay on radio stations across the U.S. This success set the stage for his subsequent releases and propelled Dolph into the limelight.

Dolph’s uncompromising lyrics and his ability to convey the realities of street life resonated with fans who found solace and inspiration in his music. His mixtapes include 16 Zips, King of Memphis, and Gelato.

Dolph’s entrepreneurial spirit was also as noteworthy as his musical talent. He established his independent record label, Paper Route Empire, in 2010. This move allowed him to maintain creative control over his music. Additionally, Dolph ventured into various business endeavours, including real estate investments, clothing lines and his line of cannabis products.

Throughout his career, Dolph faced numerous challenges and encountered life-threatening situations. In 2017, he survived a targeted shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina, which left his SUV riddled with bullet holes. Despite the incident, Dolph remained resilient and continued to produce music that reflected his experiences and personal growth.

On January 10, 2022, two months after he was murdered, an announcement was made regarding a posthumous tribute album, titled: Long Live Young Dolph. The album was released on January 21, 2022, through Young Dolph’s record label, Paper Route Empire. It served as a tribute to the late rapper and featured guest appearances from several associates of Paper Route Empire, including Key Glock, Big Moochie Grape, Kenny Muney, Jay Fizzle, Joddy Badass, Snupe Bandz, Paper Route Woo, and Chitana.

Another posthumous album, titled: Paper Route Frank, was released on December 16, 2022. This album showcased unreleased material from Young Dolph, allowing fans to continue to appreciate his artistry even after his passing.

Young Dolph songs

Young Dolph

Young Dolph’s discography consists of a wide range of songs that showcase his lyrical prowess, charismatic delivery and ability to paint vivid pictures with his words. His music often delves into themes of street life, hustling, personal triumphs and the pursuit of success.

Here are some notable songs by Young Dolph:

  • “Preach” (2014): This breakout single from his mixtape “High-Class Street Music 4: American Gangster” propelled Young Dolph into the mainstream. The track features an infectious hook and hard-hitting verses, showcasing Dolph’s unapologetic style and confident delivery.
  • “Get Paid” (2016): From his album King of Memphis, this anthem embodies Dolph’s entrepreneurial spirit and hustler mentality. The song emphasises the importance of financial independence and the drive to succeed against all odds.
  • “100 Shots” (2017): Released as a response to the shooting incident he survived, this track is a defiant statement of resilience. Young Dolph fearlessly addresses the attempt on his life and asserts his unwavering determination.
  • “Major” (2018): This song featured Key Glock, his protégé and frequent collaborator. The song is characterised by its energetic trap beat, catchy hooks, and bold lyrics that celebrate its rise to success.
  • “Down South Hustlers” (2019): This track, featuring Juicy J and Project Pat, pays homage to Dolph’s Southern roots and showcases his ability to blend his raw style with the classic Memphis sound. The song is a testament to his respect for the city that shaped him.
  • “Juicy” (2020): A collaboration with fellow Memphis rapper, Project Pat, Juicy is a high-energy banger that pays tribute to the iconic Three 6 Mafia. The song incorporates a sample from the group’s hit track “Slob on My Knob”.
  • “Rich Slave” (2020): The title track from his album of the same name, Rich Slave tackles the theme of financial freedom and highlights the complexities and contradictions of success. Dolph reflects on the challenges he has faced while striving for wealth and the responsibilities that come with it.
  • “To Be Honest” (2021): This introspective track showcases a more vulnerable side of Young Dolph. He opens up about his struggles, past experiences and the toll that street life can take on a person.

Young Dolph’s net worth

Dolph had an estimated net worth of $3 million as of the time of his death, according to Celebrity Net Worth

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Young Dolph family

Young Dolph with his family

Dolph had two children with his partner, Mia Jaye. He stated that he adopted a somewhat strict approach to parenting, likely influenced by his upbringing with his grandmother.

Throughout his career, Dolph frequently collaborated with his cousin and fellow rapper, Key Glock. The two artists shared a close musical bond and often appeared on each other’s projects.

In an interesting familial connection, Dolph revealed in 2017 that he was a distant relative of the late rapper and singer, Juice Wrld.

Young Dolph age

Dolph was born on July 27, 1985. He was 36 years old when he was killed.

Young Dolph death

Young Dolph in music video

On November 17, 2021, while visiting Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies, a bakery he often frequented in Memphis, Young Dolph was shot and killed. Two gunmen in a white two-door Mercedes-Benz opened fire on him. The autopsy revealed that Thornton sustained 22 gunshot wounds, with some entering and exiting his body, including wounds on his forehead and back.

Following the shooting, a large crowd gathered at the scene and authorities had to restrict access to the area for investigation purposes. In response to the incident, Tennessee House Representative, London Lamar, and Memphis Councilman, J. B. Smiley, called for a curfew in Memphis to prevent potential unrest and violence.

Young Dolph’s funeral took place on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. The service was held at First Baptist Church. His family’s procession of black SUVs was escorted by security and Memphis Police to the cemetery across from Hamilton High School, his alma mater.

In January 2022, one of the suspects involved in the murder, Justin Johnson, was identified by the police, and a first-degree murder warrant was issued for his arrest. Authorities offered a reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the suspect’s capture. Johnson had a history of criminal charges, violence, and associations with organised criminal gangs.

Another suspect, Cornelius Smith, was also arrested for the theft of the car used in the murder and was later indicted on first-degree murder, weapons possession and theft charges. Johnson was captured by police in Indiana, aided by over 500 tips. Shundale Barnett, a passenger in the vehicle, was also arrested.

Both Johnson and Smith were indicted on first-degree murder charges, while Barnett faced charges as an accessory.

During the legal proceedings, Johnson and Smith faced difficulties in finding legal representation and the judge issued an ultimatum for them to secure lawyers by a certain date. Johnson faced additional charges related to a sex offender registration violation and claimed he couldn’t afford an attorney.

In November 2022, a third suspect, Hernandez Govan, was indicted for the murder and conspiracy to murder Young Dolph as he was accused of ordering the hit. The trial for those accused of murdering Young Dolph is expected to take place in 2024.

In remembrance of Young Dolph, the city of Memphis approved the renaming of a street to Adolph “Young Dolph” Thornton Jr. Avenue, located near his childhood neighbourhood of Castalia Heights and close to the site of his murder. Furthermore, in February 2022, Tennessee lawmakers proposed a bill to establish November 17 as the “Adolph Thornton Day of Service” to honour Dolph’s philanthropic acts and encourage Tennesseans to engage in community service.

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