End-To-End Trauma: On Takeoff & The Wake of Hip-Hop Murders

Christopher A. Smith
6 min readNov 7, 2022
Photo Credit: Scott Garfitt/Shutterstock

I’m part of the generation that was fortunate enough to be a living and active witness and participant in Hip-Hop as it began to grow exponentially. That means that the precepts and spirit of the culture were being lived out among my friends and those family members who were rap music fans. I stress the family aspect a lot these days as I see my nephew pushing to be fully established as a producer, and other cousins also strengthening their footholds in the culture. I imagine that same love and that same journey in the bond between Quavious Keyate Marshall, Kirshnik Khari Ball, and Kiari Kendrell Cephus. You know them as Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset. Migos.

I’m old enough to have been called an “O.G.” while technically not being one — that situation occurred out in Brownsville while on the way from seeing Public Enemy at a free concert a couple of years back. But now I realize that making it to my fourth decade of life does qualify me to be one. Because so many of those like me, Black men do not get to this plateau. It is a constant thought, running in the background of my mind like an app on my phone or laptop. It’s why waking up this past Tuesday jarred me as I saw the news of Takeoff being killed outside of a bowling alley in Houston, Texas. Gone at 28.

28. The weight of that, seeing Takeoff talking about wanting his flowers now while on “Drink Champs” with N.O.R.E. The knowledge that he was firmly coming into his own to rightfully stand forth as the glue that held Migos together was what screamed out among words that made your bones ache. Made your eyes heavy with sadness.

28. Eight and two. Significant numbers on their own, but added together? Becoming ten. Another significant number, one signifying self-determination and exploration. Independence. Boundless potential. Words we would soon see splayed out on social media in the hours and days after Takeoff’s death. Words that only add to the pain of another life lost way too soon, and in a way too cheaply. Words undoubtedly adding to the pain of both Offset and Quavo. Both men who lost a part of themselves, seeing someone they loved bleed out onto the concrete in the overnight hours. Hours all three had been through numerous times as bandmates and family before that, hustling.

Christopher A. Smith

Freelance writer. Author of 3 books of poetry. Raconteur. Queens is the county, Jamaica is the place.