Skip to content

Young Dolph: The Memphis Rapper Who Defied the Odds

Full Name Adolph Robert Thornton Jr.
Age 36
Birthday July 27, 1985
Death Date November 17, 2021
Birth Sign Leo
Born United States
Height 5′ 8′′ (1.73 m)
Net Worth $3M
Instagram @youngdolph
Twitter @youngdolph
Facebook Young Dolph

Young Dolph was an American rapper with a debut album, "King of Memphis" in 2016 who was featured on the hit single “Cut It.” Born in Chicago but raised in Memphis, TN, Dolph overcame a tough upbringing and multiple shootings to become a resilient rap star known for his authentic lyrics and refusal to sign with a major label. Tragically killed at just 36 years old, Dolph leaves behind an inspiring legacy of determination against all odds.

Early Life Facing Adversity in Memphis

Born Adolph Robert Thornton, Jr. on July 27, 1985 in Chicago, Illinois, Young Dolph moved to Memphis at age 2. He grew up in the rough Castalia neighborhood, raised by his grandmother as his parents split up. As a kid, Dolph helped his grandma cook and sell drugs to get by. He fell into gang activity and dealing drugs himself as a teen. At just 17, a drug arrest sent Dolph to juvenile detention which served as a wake up call.

After this incident, Young Dolph began taking rapping more seriously and adopted the name Dolph Diego. In 2008, he dropped his first mixtape Paper Route Campaign and tried to promote it around Memphis. When he didn‘t gain much traction, Dolph refused to give up. For the next few years, he perfected his craft and worked tirelessly to build an organic following in Memphis and the South.

Middle of Distro Kid Embed

[Young Dolph discography]

Achieving Independent Success in His Own Way

In 2010, Young Dolph adopted his current stage name and dropped his mixtape The Weed Print which gained over 10,000 downloads locally. Dolph promoted his music himself, persistently touring southern cities to slowly build his fanbase without label support.

  • In 2013, he released his debut album South Memphis Kingpin independently and sold over 10,000 copies
  • Dolph signed with Empire Distribution in 2014 which expanded his reach.
  • His mixtapes High Class Street Music 4 (2015) and Rich Crack Baby (2015) further grew his fanbase
  • 2016‘s King of Memphis debuted at #49 on Billboard 200 and featured his breakout hit “Get Paid”

Dolph had proven he could achieve Billboard success independently after years of grinding. As a long-time fan, I respect how Dolph never compromised, paving his own lane on his own terms.

Refusing to Back Down Despite Shootings

Young Dolph had a warrior spirit, refusing to be intimidated despite unthinkable violence and shootings. In 2017, he survived a shooting in Hollywood that left him with multiple gunshot wounds.

Remarkably, Dolph bounced back quickly, turning the NC house he was renting at the time into a permanent residence costing over $500k. As a fan, Dolph‘s resilience after this incident only made me respect him more.

Even after multiple brushes with death, Dolph boldly kept releasing music and performing shows. His fifth studio album Rich Slave (2020) became his highest charting yet after his passing, peaking at #4 on Billboard 200.

  • Bulletproof mentality through all adversity
  • Inspired others with his fearlessness and work ethic

Commitment to Memphis & Helping His Community

Despite his fame, Young Dolph never forgot about Memphis. He gave back to the community through his Dolph World foundation, donating turkeys around Thanksgiving and paying rent for senior citizens. As someone who also grew up in the South, I always admired Dolph using his platform to lift up his hometown.

Dolph repped Memphis authentically in his music and tried setting a positive example for the next generation of artists. Even when he moved away, Memphis remained an integral part of his identity.

  • Generous with time and money towards community Initiatives
  • Positive role model and inspiration for local kids
  • Music portrayed Memphis culture dynamically

Lasting Musical Legacy

Although his vibrant life was sadly cut short, Young Dolph leaves behind a strong musical legacy spanning nearly 20 mixtapes and 5 studio albums released in just over a decade.

Some of my personal favorite Young Dolph songs include:

  • “Get Paid” – Breakout Billboard hit
  • “100 Shots” – Display of his effortless flow
  • “On the River” – Vivid storytelling ability
  • “RNB” ft. Megan Thee Stallion – Radio-friendly crossover single

Dolph‘s unique charisma, technical bars, and ability to rap authentically about his real life experiences made him a revered figure in hip hop‘s landscape. His collaborations with Gucci Mane, Megan Thee Stallion, and Key Glock also displayed his versatility as an artist.

Even after his death, Dolph‘s music continues touching fans, keeping his spirit alive. His drive to keep working and releasing quality music while unsigned serves as an inspiration.

Legacy of Resilience Again All Odds

Beyond his artistry, Young Dolph leaves behind a lasting legacy of resilience. Despite impossible circumstances growing up and multiple shootings, he never stopped chasing his rap dreams. Dolph‘s unwavering commitment to independence and bouncing back from adversity made him a motivational figure.

As an artist, Dolph proudly repped his roots and gave hope to those from similar backgrounds. His confidence and work ethic served as the embodiment of Memphis‘ grit and soul. Although Dolph‘s story ended tragically, his inspirational journey of determination lives on. The rapper once said "Some people get derailed by hard times and give up. But I just keep going." That mindset represents the lasting impact Young Dolph leaves on hip hop culture.