“Long live the King of Memphis,” the Rev. Keith Norman told an intimate gathering of about 200 that attended the private funeral services held for renowned Memphis rapper Young Dolph on Tuesday.
“Music, all kinds of music, are genres from God,” said Norman, who delivered the eulogy at First Baptist Church-Broad, where he is the pastor.
“King of Memphis” was the debut studio album by Adolph Robert Thornton Jr., who solidified a loyal and widespread fan base as Young Dolph with the February 2016 release.
The album project was produced by Dolph’s label, Paper Route Empire.
Dolph was gunned down on the early afternoon of Nov. 17 while purchasing cookies from Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies on Airways Blvd. in South Memphis.
News of his violent death stunned Memphis and beyond. And with ongoing concern that the ambush might lead to more violence, police cordoned off the area around the church, where admittance was limited.
“There were a lot of young people there,” said Pastor Rodney Herron, pastor of St. James Baptist Church in the Castalia community, where Young Dolph has attended from a child. “He had family, close friends, and artists on his record label. But, the number allowed was small.”
A pervasive police presence secured the gathering, both inside the church and around the perimeter of church grounds. Metal detectors were also used to screen those attending the service, according to Herron.
The highlights of the service including expressions from Thornton’s two young children.
“There were so many people who wanted to pay tribute to Young Dolph,” said Herron. “Many of his friends, some he has known from childhood, got up to make remarks concerning his death. His son and daughter spoke very well. He (the son) is about eight or nine, and, I guess, his little daughter must be about six or seven.
“Their mother walked them up to the front and stood with them because they wanted to say something, but she did not speak.”
Final arrangements were not publicly announced because of security and privacy concerns for the family. Thornton was buried in a South Memphis cemetery, which also was not disclosed.
On Nov. 24, a week after Thornton’s homicide, his family released a brief statement:
“There are no words that exist, that sufficiently express the pain we are feeling as a family. Losing Adolph, Dolph, Man-Man, changes our lives forever. And while we will take each day as it comes, we are comforted in knowing that he leaves a legacy that reflects his heart. A heart that was for his family. A heart that was for the people.
“We are grateful for the outpouring of love. We are grateful that his godly obligation to show kindness to the world is being acknowledged.
“As a family, we were blessed to call him our son, our nephew, our brother, our cousin, our partner and our Father. And now, we have the honor of calling him our angel. A role he has always played.”
The investigation into Dolph’s killing is on-going. According to police, two gunmen drove up in a white, two-door Mercedes, brandishing weapons, just as Thornton exited his car and entered the shop. Both suspects open fired, hitting Thornton multiple times. They returned to their vehicle and sped away.
Video has been released of the killers and police are still asking for tips. The family has also offered $500,000 for information leading to the suspects.
Anyone who can help solve the case is being asked to call CrimeStoppers at: (901) 528-2274 (CASH).
N.J. Ford and Sons had charge of final arrangements.