Young Dolph’s tragic death on Wednesday (Nov. 17) is just the latest loss the hip hop world has had to experience.
But similar to the passing of artists like Nipsey Hussle and Pop Smoke, Black men who were taken from this earth far too early and within the past two years, they brought much more to the community than just dope music.
In Nipsey’s case, he dropped game about financial literacy and propped up his own community and people in Crenshaw, Calif. Pop created a drill culture in Canarsie that would eventually take over Brooklyn, New York, and influence neighborhoods in the U.K. and West Africa.
Dolph (born Adolph Robert Thornton Jr.) was a little bit of both. While contributing to Memphis’ long, rich hip hop history with hit after hit (“100 Shots” being a personal favorite), he was also active in his community. The 36-year-old founded the nonprofit IdaMae to “address the needs of the community by offering programs and philanthropic activities that will enhance the quality of life by creating opportunities for lifelong learning, personal growth and development, and preservation of the community culture.”
Dolph was also a regular volunteer to pass out turkeys around Thanksgiving time and was scheduled to do so once again for Memphis Athletics Ministries the same week he was shot and killed.
In 2018, he donated $20,000 to two baristas at Duke University who were fired for playing his song “Get Paid,” and flew the two out to see his set at Rolling Loud. Last year, Dolph delivered his own Lamborghini to the winner of his Rich Slave contest, and when the lucky fan resold the exotic car for $500,000, he supported the decision, commenting “GET PAID.”
Similar to Pop and Nipsey’s murders, Young Dolph was randomly killed by armed assailants with the news impacting their local communities and the hip hop world at large. After he was murdered on Wednesday, several of his peers reached out about how influential he was to them. Griselda Records co-founder Westside Gunn revealed that Dolph was his favorite rapper.
“I ALWAYS give flowers to the living, Dolph is one of the only ppl to make me go harder, believe it or not, my f****n FAV this Tweet was 4yrs ago,” the Buffalo rapper retweeted over a 2017 tweet claiming Dolph to be his most preferred. Megan Thee Stallion gave flowers to Dolph, whom she called a “true legend,” while Gucci Mane said news of his death “broke my heart.”
Young Dolph also leaves behind two children and his longtime girlfriend Mia Jaye. On Wednesday, a video of him styling his young daughter Aria’s hair went viral, showing the world how much of a family man he was. "So you don't want Mommy to comb your hair, you want Daddy to comb your hair," she can be heard saying.
With Dolph’s passing, hip hop once again loses a leader, an inspiration, a philanthropist, a father, a significant other, and a figure that through music entertained us and provided a story of conflict, pain, struggle, and perseverance.
May he rest in peace.