Fans celebrated slain rapper Takeoff’s musical legacy Friday, Nov. 11, at a memorial service in Atlanta, near where the artist grew up, which drew Justin Bieber, Drake and other big names in the music industry.
Takeoff, part of the Grammy-nominated trio Migos with his uncle Quavo and cousin Offset, was fatally shot earlier this month outside a Houston bowling alley. A woman and another man were also injured in the shooting. No arrests were made.
Jenifer Loving, 22, stood in line with her infant son, Mateo, for more than an hour before the doors to State Farm Arena opened to fans who were able to get a free ticket. She said Takeoff’s death was heartbreaking in part because he was only 28.
Migos’ music represented the creativity and culture of the black community, she said, and she worried the group was too saddened to make new music — at least for a while.
“It’s just something you can play anywhere, and everyone will come and dance,” she said. “That’s how it brings people together. That’s how the whole room fills with positivity.
Eric Hood, an Atlanta firefighter, said he was shocked when he learned of Takeoff’s death because of the three Migos members he was considered the most laid back.
Migos music was an “escape” for many people, he said, and he hoped the event left the rapper’s family and the rest of the band with lasting memories of him.
“I pray for them,” 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 in the arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, despite the rainy weather. A massive sign outside was lit up with the rapper’s image.
Free tickets for the memorial service were available to Georgia residents, but the State Farm Arena said well before Friday the event had reached capacity and fans without tickets should not come downtown.
Organizers have not released a schedule for the event or allowed media entry. Several fans leaving the event confirmed Bieber and Drake’s attendance and said Offset and Quavo also spoke.
Atlanta resident Jeffrey Wilson said the event was emotional.
“Her 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, Friday morning with his 2-year-old son, Ashton.
“He probably won’t remember it,” he said of his son. “But it’s something to have when he gets older, to know he was there.”
Migos broke out nearly a decade ago with 2013’s hit “Versace,” which soared even further in popularity thanks to a Drake remix. The trio were largely raised by Takeoff’s mother in an Atlanta suburb.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said the day after the shooting that Takeoff, born Kirsnick Khari Ball, was “highly respected” and that there was “no reason to believe he was involved in anything criminal at the time.”
Migos label Quality Control mourned Takeoff’s death in a statement posted to Instagram attributing it to “senseless violence and a stray bullet.” Police said nothing about the stray shot.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, her family asked people to donate to the Rocket Foundation, which was created in Takeoff’s honor and aims to prevent gun violence, according to its website.