American rapper Dolph, popular in his home state of Tennessee, was killed during a drive-by shooting in Memphis, according to police. He was 36.
The rapper, born Lawrence Clayborn, has not released any new music in over a year. However, the tracks he did put out, such as 2016’s Drink More Liquor, showed that he still had a lyrical force to be reckoned with. He was critically acclaimed for his 2014 album Truck Shot, which explored his struggles from Memphis.
He was shot several times while the vehicle he was in was being driven through a suburb of Memphis on Thursday night. Police said a suspect fled in a nearby car, and the rapper’s phone was found at the scene.
“Witnesses told us that they saw a vehicle parked on a different side of the street and the suspect inside of that vehicle get out of the vehicle and open fire on a black Mercedes-Benz and the victim was actually inside of that vehicle,” Memphis police assistant chief Jon Arnold told reporters. “The victim was in the back seat of the vehicle. He was the one who was struck by those rounds.”
Dolph was expected to appear in court to enter a plea on charges of having a gun after a 2017 arrest for drug possession. No weapons were found in that case, and he was cleared of the charges after prosecutors did not charge him with having a gun. Police recovered a weapon that matched one found at the scene of the shooting, which Arnold said could have been used in a retaliation attempt against the rapper.
Dolph is the latest Memphis rapper to be killed. The hip-hop producer Big K.R.I.T., who lives in Memphis, was fatally shot in December 2017. In March of this year, the rappers Silkk the Shocker and Junior Mafia member A-Plus were shot and killed.
His fans have responded online with thousands of tributes. “I just can’t tell you how much this hurts,” DJ Spinz tweeted. “Dolph always came thru. I can’t believe he’s gone.”