Houdini, an up-and-coming rapper from Canada, was shot and killed in broad daylight in the Entertainment District of Toronto on Tuesday. He was 21.
His death was confirmed by fellow Toronto rapper Tory Lanez, who wrote on Instagram, “I’m trying, and I can’t fight the tears from falling .. I can’t even find the words for a speech right now .. YALL TOOK MY F***ING N**** AND ALL HE WANTED TO DO WAS LIVE !!!!!! #RIP Houdini 4 Ever!”
Toronto Police Operations tweeted on May 26 that the shooting took place around 4 p.m. local time on King Street West and Peter Street, just outside the Bisha Hotel & Residences on Blue Jays Way. Three victims were shot: Houdini, a 15-year-old boy and a 27-year-old woman. Both the boy and woman are expected to recover from their injuries.
Rest easy Houdini 🕊
There’s been too much violence in this city taking away Toronto artists too soon. Hoping this violence can stop pic.twitter.com/JShM1rUHWX
— Sidedoor (@sidedoormag) May 27, 2020
“This was very brazen,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said, as reported by CP24. While all three victims were transported to a local hospital, Saunders confirmed at 6:30 p.m. local time that the 21-year-old had succumbed to his injuries. Police said the incident appears to have been targeted and that the suspected shooters were waiting in their car for about 40 minutes before their victim arrived.
“It turns out the suspect vehicle, based on the evidence we have right now, was waiting for about 40 minutes for the occupants of another vehicle to arrive to their vehicle,” Saunders said. “When they did, the suspect vehicle made a U-turn, came out, and started firing at this group of individuals.”
Houdini was one of the most-streamed independent rappers in Canada, racking up 19.2 million plays on Spotify in 2019. Here’s what you need to know about Houdini:
1. Police Are Looking for the Suspect(s) Who Shot & Killed Houdini
Saunders is asking for help from anyone who saw anything at the time of the shooting. On Tuesday night he said, “What we’re asking for right now, anyone that was in the area of King and Peter Street or on Wellington and Peter Street, in between those areas, if you saw anything that happened during this occurrence to please call us right now.”
A firearm was recovered at the scene, and the suspect’s vehicle is believed to be a blue Volkswagon Titan, which drove westbound on Front Street before heading north on Spadina Avenue, police said.
“The suspect vehicle was actually facing northbound at one point in time and then came around and started shooting at the victims, in this particular case, as they were about to get into their vehicle,” Saunders added. “That vehicle is not here either. So we’re trying to locate both vehicles: the victims’ vehicle as well as the suspects’ vehicle.”
A witness told CP24 that he heard around six to 10 gunshots before police arrived on the scene. “What we heard was like a bunch of fireworks,” the witness said. “It was quite startling and then you hear all the sirens afterward. I think a lot of people have power outages in this area too, so people were out for a walk I guess. It’s quite shocking to see in this area.”
2. Houdini Dropped His Latest EP During the Coronavirus Shutdown
Dropping a new record in the midst of a global pandemic didn’t worry Houdini, nor did he worry about social distancing. He said, “Man, one thing about me, I’m not with the hype. I’m not gonna be doing something just because everyone is doing it. That’s why I’m different from everyone else. I’m my own man. I do what I want. So people are saying, ‘Don’t go outside because you can get corona.’ I’m going to take the chance. All my life, I’ve been risking.”
Houdini was planning to drop his latest EP, underGROUND, in the summer, but amid coronavirus, he decided to drop it early.
“I mean, s***. It’s a good time for me because everyone’s at home, just on their phone. So I have a chance of getting a lot of streams on this EP. … But something just told me, ‘Yo, if you have the ability to just drop music, do it. Do it as much as you can.’ So I’m just doing it. Even if people aren’t feeling it, I feel it. I drop what I like. You never know what song is going to leave an impact on people and change people’s lives and s***.”
Houdini added, “I have a strong belief in fate. I’m just manifesting right now.”
3. Houdini’s Parents Wanted Him to Be A Lawyer
When Houdini, who grew up in Brampton, Ontario, told his parents he wanted to be a rapper, they were not pleased. He told Complex, “They were not feeling that when I told them the first time. Like, ‘What? You wanna be a what?’ They weren’t f***ng with that. They thought I was going to be some waste little rapper trying to make it. … They wanted me to be a lawyer, but I knew privately I wasn’t gonna be one. I was either gonna be on some finesse s*** or… I just knew I was gonna do something.”
4. Houdini Made Two Records With Lanez
Houdini opened up in March about Lanez taking him under his wing. The rapper said, “He’s a real n****. He knows what it’s like for a rapper like me to go up and be independent and try to make a name for yourself in the States. And just be on the grind. He knows what the grind is, so he appreciates that. So he acknowledges that by bringing me to the studio session and making me pull up to his house and just vibe. You know, just regular s***. Some genuine, genuine love.”
The love was mutual. In a second Instagram post on Tuesday, Lanez called Houdini a “young legend.”
5. Tributes to Houdini Filled Social Media Following the News of Houdini’s Murder
Houdini started rapping and writing his own music at age 15, and he explained his slow and steady rise to fame in an interview with My Better Life in 2018.
I’m a young, aspiring artist from the Toronto neighborhood of Jane and Driftwood, where the culture for music is powerful. Music has always been entertaining for me. I knew a few friends who were making music at the time – that made me realize that this is something I’d like to pursue. I dropped a few of my first songs on SoundCloud and started getting a solid fan base and knew that rapping was gonna be long term for me.
The official music video for the song “Late Nights” racked up over 5 million views on YouTube. His other well-known hits include the tracks “Myself” and “Backseats.” The music video for his latest single, “Big Time,” was released on April 28.
Following Houdini’s death, fellow artists and fans took to social media to post tributes to the artist. Rapper Meek Mill shared a photo of Houdini on Instagram with the caption, “Rocked WIT YOUNGBULL VIBE AS A PERSON RIP! PRAYERS TO HIS SIDE!”
Rest In Peace to Toronto Rapper #houdini our condolences go out to his family & loved ones. He was truly on his way to being a major player in Toronto. We were actually working with him on his Before They Were Famous Before he passed , I hope to finish what we were working on. pic.twitter.com/iFYMsExIpB
— Before They Were Famous (@mccruddenm) May 27, 2020
Someone who was just shaping Toronto’s landscape of music.
It’s crazy that we’ve become desensitized to this useless violence.
— Noah Miller (@iamnoahmiller) May 27, 2020
Rest In Peace to Houdini. Super talented and gone too early. Backseat reminds me of summer 2019, one of my favourite songs ever
— Mucho TV (@muchotv1) May 27, 2020
Popular Toronto rapper Houdini pronounced dead after being gunned down today. 😔💔 pic.twitter.com/Cn4JrXPKAV
— rapoutlet (@rapoutlets) May 27, 2020
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the name of the Toronto rapper who first reported the news of Houdini’s death. The rapper’s name is Tory Lanez, not Tony Yanez.