ST PAUL, Minn. — "I've met them a few times," said Rich Johnson, who manages and develops local music artists.
Johnson, a Saint Paul native, has spent the past two decades in the industry. One moment that sticks out in his memory was meeting the Atlanta-based, Grammy Award-winning hip-hop group, Migos.
"Takeoff was more quiet and reserved," he said.
Like many nationwide, he's now mourning his death. The 28-year-old was shot to death Tuesday outside a bowling alley in downtown Houston.
"We keep losing people that have a certain impact on our community and it just hurts, it hurts really bad," said Johnson.
Takeoff's death is the latest in a disturbing trend stretching back to 2018. Since then, at least one rapper has been killed each year.
"I think it's much more complex than what's happening in the music industry and I think the statement from the police chief, when he spoke specifically to gun violence in the hip-hop community, was problematic, we have a problem with gun violence in America," said Dr. Yohuru Williams, Distinguished University Chair and professor of history and founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas.
Dr. Williams says larger societal issues including poverty and inequality all play a part.
"In the case of Migos, the argument is that, here is a young person, who for all intents and purposes wasn't heavily involved in things we associate with the more seedy underside of hip-hop, and yet was still victimized in this way," said Dr. Williams.
As communities of color see the gun violence impacts firsthand, there's concern about the long-term effects on young people.
"This constant exposure to human trauma in which they are left to ponder, is no one concerned about this or interested enough in addressing this in a meaningful way," said Dr. Williams.
Something Johnson is hoping to fix, sharing a message of support for those in his industry and his community.
"For these young people, I just want them to be aware of their surroundings, and when you're an artist, you're not just responsible for yourself, you're responsible for people around you," said Johnson.
Houston police are still investigating the shooting and no arrests have been announced at this time.
Watch more local news:
Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities in our YouTube playlist: