Just one week after the drop of his debut album, promising rapper King Von, 26, was killed outside the Monaco Hookah Lounge in Atlanta. The shooting was caused by an altercation between two groups, around 3 a.m, that turned into a shootout that also involved two police officers. Another man Mark Blakely was killed during the incident and four others were injured, including Timothy Leeks, who was charged with Von’s murder.
After the incident, Jameson Francois, King Von’s manager, who also was shot in the leg, told DJ Akademiks about the story on his channel. He explained that the shooting started after a physical brawl between Von and a person who Francois identified as rapper Quando Rondo. The internet had been buzzing before Francois’ interview with rumors that Von was fighting Quando before he was shot. Even though the case was closed by APD, people still speculate that it was Savannah, Ga. rapper who shot Von.
Check out the exclusive interview by XXL magazine two weeks before the rapper’s death.
XXL: Where are you?
King Von: S***, I’m in my new house.
-Where is that?
-It’s like 50 minutes out of Atlanta.
-Is it quiet?
-Quiet as hell.
-You like that or does it get boring?
-It’s good. It’s great.
-Why have you been staying in Atlanta?
-Because this was where Durk was at. Durk picked it. It’s the only place I had to go other than Chicago, so I came out here with him.
-Do you miss Chicago?
-Nah, I see Chicago often. I go out there, so nah, I don’t miss it. It’s right there.
-Did you always live on O’Block? Did you grow up there?
-Have to ask my mama. I was 9 or 10, but it wasn’t O’Block at the time, it was Parkway Gardens. Before that, we were living on 78th and Wolcott. Before that we were living in low income places, but my grandma lived on 78th and Walcott. She lived right there. We were still living over there, but my mama moved to Parkway when I was 9 or 10, so my grandma still lived there. So, you know how that goes. You got to your grandma’s house to go to school. I was going to school by my grandma’s house, but I was living with my mama over there, so around 7, 8 o’clock I’d go over there, then in the morning go back to granny’s house to go to school-type s–t.
-When you moved to Parkway, did you know any of the kids who lived there?
-I ain’t know nobody. I was too young. They were shooting a lot, so we’d be on the floor a lot. My mama [would] say, “Don’t go outside. It’s too bad out there.” But I’d be bored in the house and s***. I’d beg her to go outside and I’d go outside and get into fights and s**t. That’s when I’d get to know people. I’d go out there and get into a fight. There were some bad kids out there. You get to fighting each other and next thing you know, you’re cool. They see me again, we back fighting, then we cool. I got to hang with people and s***.
-That’s how you get to know people.
-Yeah, you got to fight first.
-When did you start rapping? When did that become something you were interested in doing?
-Like three years. It’s been three years since the first song been out, “Beat Dat Body.” Me and [THF Bay] Zoo. He beat his murder too, so we made a song called “Beat Dat Body.” I started rapping [at] that time.
-Is that when you started taking it seriously?
-That was when I first started getting on the mic and s**t.
-You weren’t even thinking about it?
-People would talk to me about it in jail. A lot of n***** was getting at me, like, “Durk f**** with you. You need to go rap and s***. You can do it.” But I was like, “Nah, I’m going to let him rap and I’m going to figure out something else.”
-So why did you start?
-Because the other s*** I was figuring out ain’t work. I was going down a list of s*** I could do. There’s only so many options if a n**** like you has felonies and s***. This one wasn’t working for me. This one wasn’t going right. I ain’t good at this. This is gonna get you a lot of time, so I’ma try rapping.
-Was it easy?
– nah, it ain’t easy. I’m good at s*** though. The first time I do something, I’ll probably be good at it. Say there’s a garbage can over there or whatever and see who hits it first. I’ll probably hit it first. You know what I’m saying? I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but I’m good at s***, so I figured it out early.
Was anyone giving you advice or pointers when you first began to rap?
-It’s crazy. If I look back, I saw like, you know how movies be and s***. Like you watch the beginning of movies to the end, and s**t’s giving you hints all the way to the end. Then at the end, you’re like, ‘I should have seen that comin’. It was hinted all through my life. People would tell me, “You got the image so you should do it.” I had a n**** in jail, my homie in jail, he got like 72 years or some s***. When I told him when I was in jail I was going to try [rapping], he was like, “A song and s**t, you can get it. I ain’t gettin’ out in no time. My dream is to rap. You’ve got the energy, you know Durk, you could do it.” I didn’t listen to him, but he used to be in the back of my head. That’s my homie. That’s a n**** I met in jail.
-Did you start when you were in jail?
-Nah, I ain’t start. I kept that in mind, though. The plan wasn’t to rap. So, I got out for a year. I got back in the streets, back out here. Then, it wasn’t workin’, like, I kept going broke. I kept finding myself back at zero. I kept finding myself in trouble, so I told Durk, “I’m ready to rap now. I’m ready.” And that’s when I started.
-What did Durk say?
-He said, “C’mon, but you really gotta want to do it. Ain’t no holding no hands or nothing like that. You want to do it, you got to do it.”
How did you meet Durk in the first place?
-We from the hood. Parkway. Just growing up in the neighborhood.
-You got out of prison in 2017, after serving three years, for murder and attempted murder, before the charges were officially dropped. On “Armed & Dangerous,” the first track of your new album, you talk about how when you got out of prison, you saw that all the tensions and conflicts in Chicago neighborhoods were now familiar to people around the world because of the popularity of the music and Chicago artists. Was that strange? That this local situation was now a global concern? That people outside of Chicago were paying attention?
-It’s been goin’ on for a minute. It’s been going on for 10 years plus, you feel me? How long [Chief] Keef been rapping and s***? And Durk been rapping? It’s normal now. They been doing that since 2010, ’11. You see what I’m sayin’? I’m gettin’ bigger, you just got to know how to handle that s**t. People goin’ to be up in your business now. You’ve got money and the s*** that comes with the fame. They in your business, you’ve got to walk lightly. Give positive vibes out even though what we rappin’ about is really just entertainment right now. It’s just music. The people, they watchin’, they know what it is, so what the f*** are you gonna do? Ain’t nothin’ to do.
-How was making this new album different than your other projects? Has it all been done during these last months of the pandemic?
-It’s really just working. It’s me back at it, steady workin’. New material, just getting better. It’s just me upgrading, me developing, and getting older. I just started. This is really my first real project coming out.
Check out the full interview on XXL