Sadly, you can’t talk about the popular Chicago, Illinois-born rapper Adolph Robert Thornton Jr. (aka Young Dolph) without diving into tragedy.
The lyricist, who was born on July 27, 1985, died on November 27, 2021, after being shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just 36 years old. He’d moved to Memphis at two years old after his birth in the Windy City.
In 2016, the rapper released his debut studio record, King of Memphis, which peaked at No. 49 on the Billboard 200 chart. He was also featured on the hit single, “Cut It,” by O.T. Genasis, which itself hit No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Young Dolph’s seventh studio album, Rich Slave, dropped in 2020 and cemented him as an emcee to reckon with. It became his highest-charting release, debuting at No. 4 on the top 200 chart. Then, just a few short months later, he was taken in a senseless act of violence. Young Dolph had two kids with his partner, Mia Jaye.
Here, we will celebrate the rapper’s life and career, offering a look into his best songs of all time.
1. “1 Scale”
A trap beat and a computerized dolphin, is there anything more quintessential? Featuring chest-out lyricism and vocal prowess, this track, as they say, slaps.
2. “Money Power Respect”
Long beloved to be pillars of the street, Young Dolph cements the idea in his song “Money Power Respect.” As much as a hypnotic chant as a key single, this song lets everyone know what is on the mind of the hustler.
Showing his supreme popularity, the music video for this song boasts nearly 115 million streams, alone. Indeed, the rapper was major and the short film that is this video shows what can accumulate from this status: money, power, sex, respect, and many possessions.
4. “On the River” (feat. Wiz Khalifa)
Despite his fame, love, and affection, there is something constantly understated about Young Dolph’s delivery, style, and tone, even when he’s working with one of the biggest names in rap music like Wiz Khalifa. Perhaps this was a key to his success, somehow leaving audiences always wanting more.
Touching on the human condition, from Young Dolph’s perspective especially, this song features chants and Dolph’s low voice. In a strange way, the lyricist resembles the emcee Shock G from the group Digital Underground. While their content and tones are far apart, their knack for relating to the world is somehow similar.
6. “100 Shots”
From his Bulletproof album, this song’s title and the LP it comes from offer a heartbreaking take, given Young Dolph’s eventual fate. It highlights street life, the best and worst of it. Live by the sword, die by the sword, as the old saying goes.
7. “While U Here”
One of the more melodic songs from Young Dolph, this song highlights goals one might want to stake out while one is still here on Earth. Indeed, the man worked hard and got what he could before his life was tragically cut short.
What do we do with the many hours at our disposal? Do we call our family? Do we find ways to find a few rays of light? Here, Young Dolph tells us some of what’s on his itinerary when he’s at home and not necessarily on the grind.
9. “To Be Honest”
Something of a party song, this track highlights how the rapper is “blessed” and how he’s come a long way from the bottom to the top of the world. It’s a glimpse into a bit of joy from Young Dolph and something fans cherish, to be sure.
10. “Talking To My Scale”
The allure of making money takes us all and this track demonstrates the hold on the rapper and some of his peers. If I sacrifice myself, he raps, will I go to hell? Here, the scale, which measures the weight of paper bills and drugs, is the subject.
(Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)