Fans praise slain rapper Takeoff at Atlanta Memorial

ATLANTA (AP) – Fans celebrated the musical legacy of slain rapper Takeoff Friday at a memorial service in Atlanta, near where the artist grew up and was attended by Justin Bieber, Drake and other big names in the music industry.

Takeoff, part of the Grammy Award-nominated trio Migos with Uncle Quavo and Cousin Offset, was shot and killed outside a Houston bowling alley earlier this month. A woman and another man were also injured in the shooting. No arrests were made.

Jenifer Loving, 22, waited in line with her young son Mateo for more than an hour before the State Farm Arena doors opened for fans who could get a free pass. She said Takeoff’s death was heartbreaking in part because he was only 28 years old.

Migos’ music represents the creativity and culture of the black community, she said, and she feared the group would be too sad to make new music β€” at least for a while.

“It’s just something you can play anywhere, and everyone will just come out and come around and dance,” she said. β€œIt brings people together. It just fills the whole room with positivity.”

Eric Hood, an Atlanta firefighter, said he was shocked to learn of Takeoff’s death because the three Migos members were considered the most relaxed.

Migos’ music has been a “way out” for many people, he said, and he hopes the event will leave lasting memories for the rapper’s family and the rest of the group.

“I’m praying for her,” he said. “I hope they continue to be uplifting, positive, and influential members of society and keep moving forward.”

Dozens of fans lined up early at the arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, despite the rainy weather. A huge sign outside was lit up with the rapper’s picture.

Free tickets to the memorial service were available to Georgia residents, but the State Farm Arena said well before Friday that the event had reached capacity and fans without tickets should not come downtown.

The organizers have not published a program for the event, nor have they admitted media. Several fans who left the event confirmed Bieber and Drake’s presence and said Offset and Quavo also chatted.

Atlanta resident Jeffrey Wilson said the event was moving.

“His mom was up there and I could see the tears in her,” Wilson said. “I felt the kinship myself, as if I knew him personally.”

Tyler Williams drove for hours from Montgomery, Alabama, with his two-year-old son Ashton on Friday morning.

“He probably won’t remember it,” he said of his son. “But it’s something you have to have as he gets older, to know that he was there.”

Migos broke out almost a decade ago with 2013’s hit “Versace,” which was made even more popular by a Drake remix. The trio was largely raised by Takeoff’s mother in suburban Atlanta.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said the day after the shooting that Takeoff, born Kirsnick Khari Ball, was “well respected” and there was “no reason to believe he was involved in anything criminal at the time.” .

Migos’ record label, Quality Control, mourned Takeoff’s death in a statement posted to Instagram, which attributed it to “senseless violence and a stray bullet”. The police said nothing about the shot straying.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, his family has asked for donations to the Rocket Foundation, which was founded in Takeoff’s honor and aims to prevent gun violence, according to its website.

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