Takeoff, of Atlanta Rap Trio Migos, Shot Dead at 28 in Houston

Takeoff, whose real name is Kirsnick Khari Ball, was born on June 18, 1994, and grew up in Lawrenceville, Ga. He “always wanted to rap,” he told The Fader, a music magazine, in a 2013 interview, and found his group mates close to home: Takeoff and Quavo, his uncle, were raised by Quavo’s mother, Edna, a hairstylist. She is frequently shouted out in Migos songs as “Mama!”

The first of the group to fall hard for rap music while the others played football, Takeoff soaked up music that he discovered online and bought at the flea market, particularly Southern rappers like Gucci Mane, T.I., Lil Wayne and his early group the Hot Boys, which provided a blueprint for Migos’s later success.

As a duo initially called Polo Club, Takeoff and Quavo began performing music in their teens at the local skating rink, and released a mixtape when Takeoff was still middle-school age. Offset began spending time at Edna’s house and considered Takeoff and Quavo his cousins. Together, they started to map out a sound — waterfalls of rolling verses, ecstatic chanted phrases, jabbing background ad-libs — that was catchy and distinctive.

The trio came to the notice of the local executives Pierre Thomas (known as P) and Kevin Lee (Coach K), who founded a label, Quality Control, around the trio in 2013. Already, Migos had fallen under the tutelage of the local rapper and talent scout Gucci Mane, who had heard the group’s early track “Bando,” and signed them to a cash deal.

But with Gucci Mane in prison, P and Coach K became the group’s primary boosters, developing a grass-roots artist development strategy that they would later employ with other breakout acts like Lil Yachty and Lil Baby.

Musically, it was Takeoff who first drew P’s attention with his bouncy, melodic triplet raps that the executive said reminded him of the ’90s group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. “The music was crazy,” P later said, “but what made me really want to go hard for them is that they packed all their clothes and moved into the studio — literally lived there, sleeping on reclining chairs and making music all day.”

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