Takeoff, whose real name is Kirsnick Khari Ball, was born on June 18, 1994, and grew up in Lawrenceville and Athens, Ga. He “always wanted to rap,” he told The Fader, a music magazine, in a 2013 interview, and found his bandmates close to home: Takeoff and Quavo, his uncle, were brought up by Quavo’s mother, Edna, a hairstylist. The first of the group to fall hard for rap music, Takeoff soaked up music bought at the flea market, particularly Lil Wayne and his early group the Hot Boys.
As a duo initially called Polo Club, Takeoff and Quavo began performing music in their teens, and released a mixtape when Takeoff was still middle-school age. Offset began spending time at Edna’s house and considered Takeoff and Quavo his cousins. Together, they started to map out a sound — repeated words, punchy ad-libs — that was catchy and distinctive.
The trio came to the notice of Pierre Thomas (known as P) and Kevin Lee (Coach K) of Quality Control, a then-budding Atlanta label that became the city’s primary incubator of young talent, via the local hero Gucci Mane, who had heard the group’s early track “Bando.” Takeoff first drew Thomas’s attention with bouncy, melodic triplet raps that the executive said reminded him of the ’90s group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.
“The music was crazy,” P later said, “but what made me really wanna go hard for them is that they packed all their clothes and moved into the studio — literally lived there, sleeping on reclining chairs and making music all day.”
Describing their approach to music in The Fader, Takeoff said the group would make about “seven songs a day,” spending no more than 15 minutes on each track. Working on a song for any longer “kills the vibe,” Takeoff said. “You gotta have fun with a song, make somebody laugh,” he added: “You gotta have character.”
In the summer of 2020, Takeoff was accused of rape in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles by a woman who said she was assaulted at a house party in Encino, Calif. A lawyer representing the rapper called the claims “patently and provably false” and said that the rapper was known for his “quiet, reserved and peaceful personality.” The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case the following year based on the lack of evidence, according to Pitchfork.