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Rising rapper KJ Balla gunned down in drive-by shooting

The late musician was 23 years old.

KJ Balla Facebook/Daily Mail

On Friday (May 22), news surfaced that rising rapper KJ Balla was fatally shot in Brooklyn, New York.

Per New York Daily News, the 23-year-old, whose real moniker is Kennedy Joseph Noel, was shot in the chest by a “gunman who squeezed off five shots from a passing car” in East New York. A 26-year-old man, who was with the rapper at the time, was also shot in the back and arm, but managed to get himself to the hospital and is expected to recover. At the moment, no arrests have been made.

Throughout his career, Balla founded his label Nothing Records and his songs were streamed on Spotify more than 80,000 times, according to Daily News. Back in April 2020, the New York native teamed up with Jay Gwuapo for their music video “Back to Back” in which they rapped about gunfights and street violence. “I’ll put the gun in his face/Maybe you dyin’ today/I keep it tight when I ride in the street,” Balla rhymed. “I cannot die in the streets.”

“Jealousy and envy overtook your hearts and took a very important piece of my heart,” Balla’s mother said, as if she were speaking to her son’s murderer. “I’m so heartbroken. It’ll never be the same for me.” She also explained that her son was a natural performer. “He used to dance on the trains when he was little,” his mother recalled. “Then he started rapping. He was very charismatic. He was really into his rap career, waiting for it to take off.”

Balla’s aunt Jacqueline Smith also shared a similar sentiment following the loss of her nephew. “Somebody had called my niece and told her to check on KJ, they said he got shot,” she recalled. “As soon as we heard everybody just ran to the hospital.”

R.I.P., KJ Balla.

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