The rapper Young Dolph, 36, was shot and killed in Memphis Wednesday, Nov. 17.
The shooting reportedly took place at a bakery, with the owner, Maurice Hill, saying Young Dolph — real name Adolph Robert Thornton, Jr. — walked into the store to buy some cookies when someone drove up, shot and killed him.
In a statement, MPD chief CJ Davis said, “The preliminary information indicates that the victim is Adolph Robert Thornton, Jr. However, this information will be confirmed once the identification process has been completed. This shooting is another example of the senseless gun violence we are experiencing locally and nationwide. Our hearts go out to the Thornton family and all who are affected by this horrific act of violence.”
Chief CJ Davis is on the scene of the shooting in the 2300 block of Airways. Please see the update below. pic.twitter.com/88vikuTOpP
— Memphis Police Dept (@MEM_PoliceDept) November 17, 2021
Benjamin J. Figura, director of the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center, issued a statement to Rolling Stone saying, “The West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center in Memphis has received notification of the reported death of Adolph Thornton, Jr. and is currently investigating.”
Representatives for Young Dolph also did not immediately return a request for comment.
Although he was born in Chicago, Young Dolph grew up in Memphis and started rapping as he got older, releasing his first mixtape, Paper Route Campaign, in 2008. “I’ve always been a big fan of music,” he told Rolling Stone in a 2017 interview. “Once I grew up and got older in age, I just … it’s like, when you love to do something, the love for it don’t go nowhere. It always get stronger and stronger, whatever you have love for. My passion for music has just gotten stronger, and I found myself involved in music.”
As his profile steadily grew with a run of mixtapes, he began garnering co-signs from rap luminaries like Gucci Mane and Young Thug. He scored a major break in 2015 when he featured on O.T. Genasis’ hit, “Cut It,” and the following year he dropped his proper debut album, King of Memphis. As an MC, Dolph was fast with a punchline and boast, but could also be brutally honest about topics like violence or growing up with parents who struggled with addiction.
Of his song, “In My System,” which some misconstrued as a celebration of drug use, Dolph said: “It’s really me describing where I come from, my background, and who made me and how I was made. It’s my mama and daddy. I got the cocaine running through my system because, like, I was saying that because that’s what my mama and daddy was. That’s what they was on. That’s what they was into.”
Dolph’s rise was also often marked by controversy, including a feud with fellow Memphis rapper Yo Gotti. Not long after Young Dolph released a video for his Yo Gotti diss track “Play Wit Yo Bitch” in February 2017, over 100 shots were fired at Dolph’s bulletproof SUV in Charlotte, North Carolina. While the rapper was unharmed — and even released a single, “100 Shots,” a few months later — he was hospitalized in September after being shot in Los Angeles.
As a rapper, Dolph’s run of form never faltered, with successful projects like 2018’s Role Model, Dum and Dummer (with fellow Memphis MC Key Glock), last year’s Rich Slave. He also scored popular singles with “Major,” featuring Key Glock, and “RNB,” featuring Megan Thee Stallion. Dolph also maintained a fierce independence throughout his career, releasing his albums and mixtapes via his own Paper Route Empire label.
Dolph was also always synonymous with Memphis, and in his interview with Rolling Stone he celebrated the city and its storied hip-hop history, saying: “You’ve got a lot of different styles. But the thing is, it’s always been the same. Memphis, we’ve got our own flow. When you listen to it, it’s like you hear it in the rap game more than ever. The Memphis style, from the rapping to the beats, we created a lot of the sound that’s going on in today’s rap. Our flow, our whole delivery, everything, it’s just the style of Memphis.”