The New Orleans-born rapper BTY Young'N, who had signed a deal with the Cash Money Records label last year, was fatally gunned down in Hollygrove late Saturday, according to his mother.
The shooting that left the artist dead occurred about 11 p.m. at a gas station in the 9200 block of Airline Highway, police said.
While the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office hasn't released the identity of the victim, his mother confirmed that the man slain was BTY Young'N, born Desmone Jerome.
"Jealousy is behind it," 44-year-old Gabrielle Jerome said when asked why someone would kill her son. "Because of his success as a rapper."
Jerome, 27, was shot multiple times and was found lying in the area of the gas station's pumps, police said. He died at the scene. Police have not released any information about suspects or a potential motive.
Gabrielle Jerome described her son, who grew up in the nearby Pigeon Town neighborhood, as a generous and much-loved member of his community. He had a 6-week old son named Desmone Jerome Jr., she said.
"He would literally give you the shirt off his back," she said. "He loved kids to death. It’s just rough."
The slain rapper's mother said he also was survived by seven brothers on his father's side and an 18-year-old sister on her side.
Many of BTY Young'N's fans and loved ones flocked to social media to express condolences after news of his killing spread.
One tribute mentioned his new son and said he had sold more than 20,000 mix tapes in New Orleans. "This is heartbreaking," the tribute said.
In an interview with Say Cheese TV, Jerome described embarking on an independent rap career when he was 14, the year before Hurricane Katrina. Four years later, at a niece's birthday party, he was rhyming and was noticed by a guest: Michael Patterson, the rapper known as Mr. Meana, who heard Jerome rhyming and introduced him to renowned hip-hop artist Juvenile.
Jerome said he knew he was "going to get rich off" the rap music industry when he earned $4,000 for recording two verses on Juvenile's "Cocky & Confident" album.
He became even more prominent when it was revealed last year that he had been signed to the "Rich Gang" group by Cash Money co-founder Bryan "Birdman" Williams, Juvenile's famous associate.
Despite his success as a rapper, the journey to that contract was turbulent for Jerome.
Jerome told Say Cheese TV that he was shot at 16 and later had various legal problems. He pleaded guilty to drug possession in Jefferson Parish in 2008 and received two years of probation.
He also was sentenced to five years in prison after he was charged with attempted murder in 2011 and pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of aggravated battery, court records show.
Jerome said he demonstrated good behavior behind bars and was released from prison in less than four years.
He chalked up his legal problems to "hustling on the streets" to make a living after he had dropped out of school and had not yet established himself as a successful rapper.
He said the problems at least gave him material to rap about because he couldn't sing about anything that didn't actually happen to him.
In the Say Cheese TV interview, Jerome described his relationship with "Birdman" Williams as mutually beneficial, saying he was doing well on his own but that the deal offered was particularly lucrative.
"You doin your thing makin noise, you know what I’m sayin, you going to be catching these people ears or catching these people’s eyes," Jerome can be seen saying on the video. "Once I met Bird, we linked up … we locked it in. Big Business. Cash Money."
Jerome acknowledged that his signing with the Rich Gang group drew some online comments that were negative. He said those comments came from people who were envious of the opportunity he had been given.
By 9:30 a.m. Sunday, hours after the news of Jerome's death broke, Williams was silent on social media about BTY Young'N's death.
Several commenters also complained that instead of saying "Rest in peace," the rap mogul had deleted all photographs and videos of Jerome on his Instagram account.
However, a message reading "Rest in Peace BTY Young'N" appeared on Williams' verified Facebook page by Sunday afternoon.
Jerome's mother said that Williams had not contacted her as of Sunday morning, but she didn't seem surprised by the silence. "It's nothing personal," she said. "He's just waiting his own time."
Other admirers and loved ones, however, had been grieving online since early Sunday.
"Your son was your (heart) but he gained a guardian angel," said a social media tribute showing Jerome holding an infant child. "God bless the (little) man and your ... family. This is a wicked ... city."
Jerome was at least the 63rd person slain in New Orleans in 2017 and the 12th in April. And within hours, the city registered yet another homicide, when a man was found fatally shot Sunday afternoon in the 6700 block of Chef Menteur Highway in New Orleans East.
Arrests have been announced in only 11 of New Orleans' slayings this year.
Meanwhile, two men also were shot Sunday afternoon near the intersection of Hickory and Eagle streets, in the neighborhood where Jerome grew up.
One man died in a shooting in New Orleans East on Sunday afternoon, New Orleans police said.
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