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Migos rapper Takeoff fatally shot in Houston

Migos rapper Kirshnik Khari Ball, known as Takeoff, was fatally shot in Houston on Oct. 31 at a private party at a bowling alley. He was 28. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

Rapper Takeoff, one-third of the group Migos, was killed in a shooting early Tuesday after a private party in Houston, the police department confirmed in an afternoon news conference.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said that officers were called at approximately 2:34 a.m. to a downtown location called 810 Billiards and Bowling for a shooting in progress. Sgt. Michael Arrington, a homicide investigator, said that Takeoff, 28, whose real name is Kirshnik Khari Ball, was confirmed deceased at the scene. Two other people transported themselves to the hospital and were treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Finner would not confirm reports that fellow Migos member Quavo was one of the estimated 40-plus people at the party and noted that a number of witnesses fled the scene, “possibly out of fear.” A suspect was not named or described. Both Finner and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner issued several calls for anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

“We have too many young men of color that are being injured or fatally killed and their future is cut off and family members and friends are left to mourn,” Turner said. “This does not have to be our reality, and it need not be our future.”

Casings from two firearms were discovered at the scene, according to Finner, who said there was no indication Takeoff had been “involved in anything criminal at the time.” Finner also noted that many people have described the “well-respected” rapper as “a very peaceful, loving, great entertainer.”

Takeoff performed in Migos alongside Quavo, 31, who was also his uncle, and Quavo’s cousin Offset, 30.

The three Atlanta rappers broke out in 2013 with their debut single “Versace,” which Washington Post critic Chris Richards at the time deemed “the real song of summer” (despite the charts suggesting otherwise). Other notable rappers, including Drake, Meek Mill and Soulja Boy, seized onto the sheer catchiness of “Versace,” recording their own versions of the song. Richards described it as “some sort of playground.”

“After hearing these guys enunciate the name of the Italian fashion house 158 times within 3 minutes 7 seconds,” he wrote, “it becomes apparent that this three-syllable word — with its intoxicating combination of fricative consonants — is surprisingly fun to say out loud, over and over and over.”

Takeoff wasn’t the most visible member of Migos. But he was its heart.

After releasing their debut album, “Yung Rich Nation,” in 2015, Migos experienced another surge in popularity with the 2016 single “Bad and Boujee,” which features Lil Uzi Vert and landed them a Grammy nomination. While accepting a Golden Globe for his series “Atlanta,” comedian Donald Glover, who raps as Childish Gambino, thanked Migos “not for being in the show, but for making ‘Bad and Boujee’ — that’s the best song ever.”

Quavo has referred to Takeoff as the strongest rapper of the group. In a GQ interview from July, Quavo reminisced about when he and Takeoff began making music together as kids. They used Windows Movie Maker to record their verses, a rather unsophisticated technique, which Quavo said meant that “if you messed up, you had to start over.” Takeoff earned his nickname after it became clear he possessed the ability to “just launch into his verses and record everything in a single, pristine take,” according to the magazine.

Though unconfirmed, rumors circulated earlier this year that Migos had broken up. Last month, Quavo and Takeoff released their debut album as a duo: “Only Built for Infinity Links,” on which Offset does not appear.

In an October interview with Complex, Quavo attributed some of Migos’ success to their familial bonds: “With us, it was really family that kept us going,” he said. Takeoff added that it can be “kind of hard to go find two people that’s family, too, like Unc and Phew,” referencing the nicknames he and Quavo adopted with the release of their new album.

Speaking to Complex, Quavo once again praised Takeoff’s rapping abilities.

“On a lot of the Migos records, he would anchor the song. Now on a lot of these records, he comes in and is popping off,” Quavo said before likening their dynamic to the Atlanta Hawks basketball team: “We setting up alley-oops like Trae Young and John Collins! It’s just the oop and dunk, easy.”

Celebrities, fans, politicians and others honored and mourned the rapper on social media Tuesday. Music director Cole Bennett, who directed Migos’s “Out Yo Way” video tweeted that “nothing makes sense anymore. nothing at all.”

Atlanta audio engineer and music producer Alex Tumay, who has recorded and mixed songs for artists including Drake, 21 Savage and Travis Scott, also paid his condolences: “RIP Takeoff. Another loss so massive it’s impossible to truly process,” Tumay wrote on Twitter. “Such a huge talent and a genuine dude. My heart goes out to Quavo, Offset and the entire Atlanta music community.”

Streaming service company Tidal tweeted, “Takeoff will never be forgotten. From the music he made with Migos to his own solo work, his legacy will continue for years to come.”