Though born in the NYC neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens—where he knew Run-D.M.C and LL Cool J as a child—Juaquin Malphurs moved to Riverdale, Georgia at age nine and later to Atlanta, where his rap career began. The heavily tatted teenager was close friends of rapper Gucci Mane, who was managed by his mother, Deb Antney. His cousin named him “Waka” (after Muppet Fozzie Bear’s catchphrase) and Gucci completed the moniker by adding “Flocka Flame.” A member of the 1017 Brick Squad Collective (along with Gucci, OJ Da Juice Man, Frenchie and Woo Da Kid), Waka’s numerous mixtapes set up his breakthrough single, “O Let’s Do It” and a successful 2010 debut, Flockaveli.

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