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'Memphis Legend,' Rapper Young Dolph Fatally Shot

Young Dolph posing after making a donation to Shelby County Schools.
Shelby County Schools Facebook Page
Young Dolph posing after making a donation to Shelby County Schools.

Young Dolph, a Memphis-made rapper who achieved national recognition, was fatally shot Wednesday afternoon while visiting a South Memphis bakery.

Adolph Robert Thornton, Jr., 36, made his rap debut in 2016, and had three albumsbreak the Top 10 on Billboard's Top 200 list. His most recent album, "Rich Slave," reached No. 4 onthe Billboard 200 chart.

Police have not yet identified any suspects in the midday slaying, which took place inside the popular cookie store Makeda's on Airways Blvd.

Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis did not speak to specific leads late Wednesday.

“This was a shooting that occurred at a cookie shop, and we’re just not sure what that motivation was,” she said at a press briefing. “It’s a little bit too early for us to tell.”

Davis said witnesses were providing information and said more officers had been stationed in the area of the shooting to discourage any additional attacks. She urged calm, but condemned the record-setting number of shootings in Memphis.

“Too many families, too many mothers, too many fathers have suffered in our city, and quite frankly, we are all tired of it,” she said.

Young Dolph had a reputation in Memphisfor his generosity and visibility in the community. He also had previous run-ins with gun violence. He had been targeted in shootings in both Los Angeles and in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Social media tributes poured in Wednesday afternoon. Crowds of people gathered for hours on Airways at the scene as dozens of police cars blocked off the area.

Mary Trice called the rapper her nephew and said many felt a deep connection with the musician.

“Now we have to get ready to bury our loved one and not just our loved one, Dolph is somebody's daddy,” she said, “Now here goes another set of kids without a dad.”

Thornton had two children and a partner, according to a2020 interview with GQ magazine and other media reports.

Nichol Smith called him a Memphis legend.

“We couldn’t believe it was him,” she said. “It’s not worth it, put the guns down.”

This post has been updated to correct a mislabeling of Young Dolph's romantic partner as his wife.

Katie is a part-time WKNO contributor. She's always eager to hear your story ideas. You can email her at kriordan@wkno.org