The news of Young Dolph's death is hard to digest. It came both suddenly and unexpectedly, quickly flitting from unsubstantiated rumor to full-on confirmed report complete with photos and eyewitnesses' live video streams. In that in-between time, before the rumors became a verified report, we frantically reached out to Dolph's camp, perhaps attempting to placate ourselves with wishful queries of this-rumor-cannot-be-true???
In many instances like this, we are ultimately left with one question: Why did it have to be Dolph?
This is a question I've found myself repeating to myself (and others) over the past hour or so. The man was a king to Memphis, and yet, he didn't just sit on his pedestal and awash himself in praise. He was an active member of his community, right up to until the moment he was shot and killed. Prior to purchasing some of his favorite local cookies, he had been working on a turkey giveaway all around Memphis with the help of his Paper Route EMPIRE artists, where they were slated to give away over 200 turkeys a day. This isn't something he advertised across his IG, indeed, Dolph didn't exactly "advertise" much of anything; he didn't need to. Since his heyday alongside Gucci Mane, he's steadily worked to establish his own star power and he did so masterfully-- through sheer hard work and consistency, amassing a devoted following in the process. This allowed Dolph to do even more good, both in the industry and in his neighborhood. Dolph would go on to specifically sign local Memphis rappers to his imprint, not only bolstering his community but cultivating these new signees with the same type of business-savvy that allowed Dolph to turn down a $22 million major-label offer in order to remain independent.
I'm sure we will delve more deeply into Dolph's impact at a later date, but for now, we just want to take a moment to truly appreciate all the music Dolph gifted us while he was here. The rapper was prolific, and there is a lot of music worth revisiting, including 2020's Rich Slave, itself proving how Dolph continued to level up as a rapper (that album is unskippable).
However, many have been returning to 2017's Bulletproof due to its significance -- the album's title was in response to a failed attempt on his life that occurred in February of that same year. As we reported at the time, Dolph was shot at over 100 times and walked away without a scratch, thanks to bulletproof panels in his car. This is not only alluded to in the album's title but in the album's opening record, "100 Shots."
Like much of Dolph's music, the record is a hard-hitting trap banger, fueled by tales of Dolph's treacherous street life. We were, and still are, able to collectively turn up to the song, triumphant in the face of the perpetrator's seemingly-laughable failure: "how you miss 100 shots?" Dolph questions.
It's not like Dolph wasn't aware of the inherent risk then, that was waiting for him by simply being outside, by being in his neighborhood. However, he also felt an inherent responsibility to give back to his community, and to be there and support those who needed him; and this was a responsibility he seemed to put above any risk. Perhaps there is some solace in that.
Rest in Peace, Young Dolph.