Who Was Dolla?

Slain rapper worked with Akon and T-Pain and had his first record deal when he was just 12 years old.

[artist id="1673341"]Dolla[/artist] often spoke about staying focused on his music despite life's many tragedies. He told XXL magazine last year about how his mother had to battle cancer, his younger brother died at birth and his father committed suicide; Dolla was just 5 years old when he witnessed his dad taking his own life. Fifteen years later, in 2008, the then-20-year-old Dolla was out promoting his upcoming album and new single when he spoke to satellite-radio host Angela Yee about how he wanted to get his older sister out of prison.

That tragic streak continued when [article id="1611675"]Dolla was fatally shot[/article] in Los Angeles on Monday night. He was 21 years old. While the up-and-coming rapper had worked with big names like Akon and T-Pain, he had yet to have his big break.

So who was Dolla? The MC, born Roderick Anthony Burton II in Atlanta, had traveled back and forth from his hometown of Atlanta to L.A. to work on music for the past decade. Da Razkalz Cru, Dolla's group with two of his cousins, signed to Elektra Records in 2000 when the MC was just 12 years old. The trio only released a single before parting ways with the company, but they did get a chance to work with Akon, who was also on his way up at the time. 'Kon and Dolla remained friends. In 2006, the duo forged a partnership between Konvict Records and Dolla's Gang Entertainment imprint.

Signed to Jive Records, Dolla was slated to release his debut, Dolla & A Dream, with contributions from Chris Brown, Polow Da Don, Jazze Pha and T-Pain. Pain sang the hook on Dolla's "Who the F--- Is That" last spring, and the song became a radio hit in many markets, and its video got a lot of play on MTV Jams.

"My music is universal," Dolla said in his bio on MySpace. "I can do street music or pop music. But whatever I do, I attempt to make meaningful songs with substance."

Unfortunately, the young artist's dream will never be fully realized. His career and life were cut short when he was shot in the head in L.A. on Monday night.

"It's a terrible tragedy," T-Pain said in a statement Tuesday (May 19). "My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."