The Prince Family Speaks In Detail About The Night Takeoff Died
On Sunday (February 5), the Recording Academy included Takeoff in its tribute to fallen artists. The moment came with a performance by Quavo, Takeoff’s Migos band-mate and the slain rapper’s uncle, performing a new tribute song, “Without You.”
On November 1, Takeoff, born Kirshnik Khari Ball, was fatally shot at a Houston, Texas bowling alley. Quavo was with Takeoff that fateful evening at 810 Billiards & Bowling, as were J. Prince, Jr. and Mike Prince. The two H-Town entrepreneurs are the sons of Rap-A-Lot Records founder J. Prince. The man born James Smith is a Hip-Hop pioneer-turned-author who has been described by many as a fearsome presence in the music industry and the streets of his city. Arrests for Takeoff’s murder were made in December. J. Prince and his sons bring alleged documents that tie statements made by those at the scene about the family, including Jas Prince—another son who is not present. Jas is often credited with bringing Drake to Lil Wayne in 2008. The week of Takeoff’s death, Jas was reportedly honored by the city of Houston with a special day, prompting two-thirds of Migos to attend from Atlanta, Georgia.
J. Prince recently appeared on Million Dollaz Worth Of Game (embedded below) alongside J. Prince Jr. and Mike Prince. Hosts Gillie Da Kid and Wallo267 traveled to Texas to interview the Prince family. The motivation for the interview was related to Takeoff’s murder, and public allegations surrounding the Prince family. “Before we even get started, I want to say rest in peace to Takeoff. Shout out to his family, shout out to the whole [Quality Control label], to all his loved ones. We want to show our respects on that aspect first.” The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania MC-turned-podcaster turns to J. Prince, “When I got the call from you, O.G., we was a lil’ reluctant to do the interview because somebody lost they life. It was a sensitive situation,” Gillie says in a somber tone. “So we talked. And then, when you alerted me that you had sat down with [Pierre ‘Pee’ Thomas] from QC and everybody saw things eye-to-eye, that [changed my perspective]. If you see eye-to-eye with the people that’s most close to [Takeoff], then y’all got everything figured out, then okay, you can come speak your truths, because that side of the family, and this side of that family is on the same accord.” However, 55 minutes later in the interview, it becomes clear that not all people close to Takeoff, including his Migos band-mate Offset, are in-step with J. Prince.
James Prince begins by echoing and emphasizing what Gillie said. “We would like to extend and send our condolences [too], because—and definitely to Takeoff’s mother. I put her at the top of the list because it’s an unnatural thing to lose your kid. I feel all kinds of pain from losing my mother, my father, brothers, sisters, cousins, best friends, and different things. But to lose your child is a whole different kind of pain. I sympathize with that to the fullest.”
The questioning begins with Wallo speaking to Mike Prince. The podcaster claims that many people who watched video footage may have perceived Mike “trying to de-escalate the situation” before “things went left.” He asks his guest what happened. Mike disagrees, claiming “there wasn’t a situation to de-escalate,” citing years of street smarts. “It was really a beautiful night. We’re all family; we’re all enjoying [ourselves],” he details. “It wasn’t about no dice game. It wasn’t about no gambling. It wasn’t about anything all these media wh*res are trying to capitalize on and draw a story that wasn’t there,” says the man in a MOB TIES hat. He details that different groups at the party smoked together and discussed basketball. Later in the interview, it appears that the hoops discussion led to a heated argument, which allegedly grew violent.
Gillie points to the Prince family’s history of hosting high-profile out-of-towners in Houston. “When a man attacks a situation with a weapon, it becomes a playing field where anything and everything goes. That’s what we’re dealing with right here, and that’s the root of the situation,” J. Prince explains behind shades. Based on recent reports, including reports of an affidavit viewed by The New York Times, an alleged Quavo associate named Willie Bland is accused of striking another man, named Cameron Joshua. That appears to be what Mike is addressing. “He didn’t attack the Prince family, but he attacked people that we know, and that’s totally unnecessary.” Wallo seeks clarification on who J. Prince is referring to. “We’re not talking about Takeoff, and we’re not talking about nobody from Houston,” he replies. “The homie that was with them [and] Takeoff, whatever his name be, he [has been] giving all kinds of statements on his police report. So we can read his name and everything, ’cause he put himself in a position where he’s cooperating and telling a lot of different lies. So we’re gonna shine a light to the real root of the issue, which is this homie and this paperwork. As anybody can see on the video, this dude—without having a green-light from [Quavo, attacked someone]. This ain’t a 5’2″ guy; this a big ni**a. So I guess he felt like the little homie was somebody he could just hit and knockout, and different things like that, and it was the wrong thing to do; it was an embarrassing thing to do. Like Mike said, it was so unnecessary in that type of atmosphere—y’all are talking about a basketball game.” Prince alludes to escalation, “Now you’ve turned a misdemeanor into a felony.”
Wallo then brings up a video, where J. Prince Jr. appeared to step over a fatally wounded Takeoff at the scene, while his brother Mike was tending to the rapper. To begin, Junior denies that he is the speaker in the video. “If you go back and look at the video, Mike is walking right behind me. They took three seconds of a situation where I was caught on video, and turned it into what they wanted it to be. In all actuality, we had been there a while. Mike was following me, so we could go to the restroom, so he could wash the blood off his hands.” Junior says he was not present when the shooting took place. “I was inside paying the bill, so I had no knowledge of what had transpired outside.” He adds that he heard the shots as he approached the door to the outside. “I also hear bullets come through the glass, so I got out the way, ’cause I was almost at the door.” Junior also says that in the ensuing moments, he was with Quavo for several hours. “Me and him stayed out there.”
J. Prince emphasizes that his sons were at Quavo’s side after the fatal shooting. He adds, “Takeoff is not the only one who got hit that night. A friend of ours’ daughter got hit. Somebody could’ve been mad about that and wanted to come back and do some things,” the Prince father suggests. “Whenever he decides to speak, he gonna validate some of the things we’re saying—Quavo. Because he knows he was never abandoned, he knows he was never disrespected. He knows every time he ever came to Houston, it’s been nothing but love and respect; that’s why he came so many times.”
On that subject, J. Prince refutes that high-profile visitors are required to “check-in” while visiting Houston. “We don’t have to have no sucka sh*t like that. A lot of people from different police departments and stuff like that are insinuating that we extort people, and they have to check-in. Ain’t no money in that sh*t; I got more money than I can spend,” says the record executive, boxing promoter, and manager. Gillie and Wallo admit that they never felt pressured to check-in with Prince during their visits. “On the flip side, there’s a brownie point to be able to have us as friends,” he clarifies, adding that he refuses to impose those relationships. “There is a difference coming to the city as our friend, versus by yourself.” Prince says that his family commands respect for those around them.
Wallo asks about MOB TIES. J. Prince, wearing a diamond-encrusted MOB TIES chain, explains, “I view our brand like a Nike brand in the streets. Everybody wears it because it’s something proud to wear and feel good about.” He says that with that popularity, he cannot assume responsibility for the actions of all parties wearing the brand—similar to Nike. Later, at the 27:50 mark, the family explains the brand is an acronym for Movement Of Bosses Together In Elevated Structure. J. Prince, Sr. claims, “the enemy want to belittle us to gang conversation and all that small sh*t, and that ain’t [why I raised my sons]. I didn’t put all that weak sh*t in him. He has an entrepreneur mind; this is something that he dreamed. Blood, sweat, and tears went into this name, and it wasn’t on no negative bullsh*t that they try to portray.” The man also calls on others to support the brand’s meaning: “If you’re qualified, let’s ride.”
However, it is 10 minutes earlier in the video interview where J. Prince says one of the biggest points of the interview. He is asked what he would change about the night. “Other than [the loss of Takeoff]—that’s at the top—other than that, the worst thing to me is this clown that came here—I wish he would’ve never came with Quavo. I wish he would’ve never brought this ni**a into Houston because he can’t think. This whole root of everything that happened is from his actions, and to be frank [and] honest about the situation, I wish that bullet would’ve hit him instead of Takeoff because he was the one that deserved that.” The executive adds, “If he don’t make that move, then everybody is still here and live to see another day. It’s bubbly and lovey-dovey.”
J. Prince says that law enforcement is misconstruing the cause of the night’s violence. “Even the police department want to get around the root of what really happened.” The mogul likens the investigation to an innocent bystander getting shot by an enforcer during a bank robbery—and whether or not the shooter or the robbers are in the wrong. When Gillie says “the root,” Prince agrees. “That’s what we’re dealing with right here.” Prince says that same individual is cooperating with police, and “telling on everything he can tell on,” including his other son Jas. The reports possibly allege an attempted robbery. “Them little dudes, the last thing they would’ve done is violated and tried to rob Quavo. Me and Quavo done walked in the hood, in the 5th Ward—me, him, and Jas—by ourselves. By the time we hit a few corners, we had 100-plus [people] walking with us. He knows firsthand that’s like a lie to justify that dumb sh*t he done,” Prince says, presumably referring to Willie Bland. The veteran says he was at home sleeping when the shooting took place.
Moments later, Mike Prince is choked up speaking about the impacts of this death on him and his family. “This ni**a came down here; he was out of line, and he stepped out of bounds without permission.” Mike alludes to an argument over basketball, and a discussion about dropping the subject to avoid an escalation. This one person involved struck somebody else in the ensuing argument. “We started walking off—didn’t nobody in the family violate nobody [else]. A man’s gotta defend himself. So I can’t tell a man not to do that, and I didn’t even see that coming. But as soon as he made a move and struck an individual, [I reacted], but everything happened [fast]. And I didn’t see no gun in his hand, ’cause I would have [said something to him].” Mike says that the fast-moving chain of events was beyond his control. “He’s not of our house. If he was of us, it would never have happened.” J. Prince interjects that a person associated with them apologized to Quavo on the video. “A ni**a hit him with a pistol? Hey man. Like I said, under no circumstances did Takeoff deserve what he got. But boy, looka here—that other clown? That’s where it’s at.”
The conversation moves to another 2022 murder. Duke Da Jeweler was killed last September after a Lil Boosie concert. Like Takeoff’s death, media reports indicated that the incident took place around gambling and members of the Prince family. In their interview, the Prince men defend gambling as an age-old tradition, but seem to suggest that the argument stemmed from a basketball discussion.
At 31:00, the conversation extends to paperwork of alleged statements made to law enforcement. Point by point, J. Prince waves off allegations. “Lord knows that any of those people try to rob or touch Quavo knows there was gonna be some real problems, so that’s just not true.” The paperwork reportedly suggests that Jas Prince supplied Willie’s firearm. “Jas don’t mind making sure [Quavo] got some heat, ’cause we understand what goes on, right? But now, you’ve got this clown—and I don’t know how it ends up in his hands, but it ends up in his hands—this clown is saying that somebody wants to rob him, that gave him a gun. Why would you give a man a gun and [then] try to rob him? [Laughs] This sh*t just don’t add up or make sense, man, is what I’m gettin’ to.” J. Prince also points to accountability regarding the accuser of his sons. “I’m just trying to get people to realize how big a damn fool this dude here is. And now he’s ratting all over the place. [He] bust shots and ran to the airport, and ran his back immediately. He didn’t care about Takeoff. As soon as he did that, [he retreated to Atlanta].”
The podcast hosts and guests all agree that artists need security and protection. Wallo points to rappers Pooh Shiesty and Tory Lanez as examples of why careers are being compromised by mistakes. At the 49:00 mark, J. Prince argues that the two Migos members should have been properly protected by professionals. “I would have loved to see somebody with [the Quality Control] team here with Quavo, versus one of them other people that don’t know how to think. So if you’ve got access to power, it’s important to use that access.” Five minutes later, at 54:00, J. Prince, Jr. admits that he tried to protect his friends. “If there was a way we could’ve prevented this situation, we would’ve prevented it by all means, which we attempted to do. It’s an unfortunate situation, but our condolences to the family.”
In the closing moments of the interview, J. Prince states his position, including a warning towards Offset. “To homie Quavo: ain’t nothing changed, where my love is concerned, with the homie Quavo. There gonna come a day, there gonna come a time, that everything we’re saying, Quavo gonna have an opportunity to bear witness that this is the truth. It’s how it went down from A-to-Z, and I look forward to seeing that day. Even more important than that—like I told him the last time I saw him, it’s love here. It’s love here, and I look forward to that coming-back-together soon. But this Offset dude? I ain’t gonna leave him out. I’m just real like this. Ni**as be throwing rocks and hiding their hand, and I don’t like them kinda individuals. The truth of the matter is, one can dance and do different things in front of these cameras and all that kinda sh*t, and when in reality, the truth of the matter is, ni**a, you wasn’t really right there with Takeoff when he was alive, so for you to be taking these positions that you’re taking…I got people everywhere, so I see all kinds of things…I’ma just say this to you: don’t never put me in no position where I have to defend myself. That wouldn’t be healthy for you.” The executive closes, “I’m gonna let him know because I hear what’s being said, and it’s all love after that.”
Since the interview published, there have been reports of a strong reaction. “How dare one of y’all … even speak on me and Take’s relationship,” Offset responded in a since-deleted Instagram Stories video recorded by fans and shared on social media, per USA Today. The post added, “I don’t know you … from a can of paint,” Offset said, pointing that outsiders “don’t know how me and my brother rock.”
Offset and his team also denied reports of a backstage argument with Quavo at the Grammy Awards.
#BonusBeat: In November of 2022, Ambrosia For Heads recorded Nas speaking about Takeoff’s passing as a call for self-preservation: