Young Dolph’s Lasting Legacy in the Memphis Community

The Lorraine Hotel, Staxx Records, The Pyramid, and Beale Street Those were the tourist spots I planned to visit in Memphis. I chose Memphis as a vacation spot due to its proximity to Arkansas and Mississippi on my quest to visit as many states as possible.

There was one place I just had to see. That place was Makeda’s Homemade Cookies. The place that the late Memphis rapper, Young Dolph, loved.

Before the rapper was tragically slain outside of the establishment on November 17th, 2021, Makeda’s Cookies had already become a pillar of the Memphis community, before it made national headlines.

“Cookies were famous in the Memphis city school, and we want to recreate them. We knew people loved those cookies. Now people know that we are here; they can find those cookies they loved when they were in elementary school”, Makeda’s co-owner, Maurice Hill told ABC 24 Memphis.

Young Dolph, whose real name is Adolph Robert Thornton Jr., was a legendary Memphis rapper and owner of the independent label Paper Route Empire. Young Dolph, who has been in hip-hop since the 2000s, is known for his 2016 album, King of Memphis, and his 2020 album, Rich Slave. Both records were successful on the Billboard 200.

Store Front of Makeda’s Cookies, September 30, 2023; Photo Credit: The Exclusive Press

Makeda’s Homemade Cookies is a black-owned business located in the heart and soul of Memphis. The cookie store has two locations, but Dolph was a regular at the South Memphis location on Airways Drive. Young Dolph was posted on the store’s social media on July 2, 2021, sharing his love for Makeda’s Cookies.

“That’s all I came here for—to get some Makeda,” Dolph said in the video recorded by an employee of Makeda’s. Each time he’s in Memphis, he stops by his favorite place, Makeda’s Cookies. In the video, Dolph holds cookies while the worker records “Straight out of the oven” before he gets in his vehicle.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the store reopened its Airways location in September 2022 after Dolph’s death. “Reopening is the right way to honor Thornton. It was something that Dolph would have wanted,” Hill said in the Commercial Appeal.

The untimely death of Dolph also prompted tourists to Memphis to visit and purchase cookies online from his favorite sweet treat spot to get a gist of what made this place special for Dolph and keep coming back for more and more. Click on the link to learn more.

Outside vicinity of Makeda’s Homemade Cookies, September 30, 2023. Photo Credit: The Exclusive Press

The way Dolph depicts the taste of the cookies sparked my tastebud’s curiosity to visit Makeda Cookies (Airway location) a year after its reopening. The outside of the store has graffiti paying homage to the slain rapper. The inside of the store included an area memorializing Yung Dolph—a blue dolphin-shaped wreath, a poster of the rapper, and a framed picture of Young Dolph. Co-Owner Hill greeted me with a pleasant smile. He had a loving disposition that made me feel welcome.

I shared with Hill my love of supporting black business. I wanted to taste the cookies I’d seen the late rapper rave about on social media. He shared with the columnist that the business has been around for 24 years. The store is named after the owner’s niece, Makeda Denise Hill, who lost her life in 1997 to leukemia, according to Action News 5.

After placing my order for the Strawberry, Lemon, Oatmeal, and Chocolate Chip cookies, Hill didn’t allow me to leave without trying their famous butter cookies, which skyrocketed their business. I’m no fan of butter cookies, but I trust his judgment, especially after he mentioned the cookies that made them famous around Memphis.

Writer, Tracey Morrison, purchase Makeda’s Cookies, September 30, 2023. Photo Credit: The Exclusive Press

Hands down to the owner, the cookies, especially the butter cookies, were delicious. I, too, got a taste of the warmth and sweetness of what Dolph had grown to love. The top-tier customer service from Hill also made my visit more memorable. From there, I understood why Dolph was a regular at the establishment. According to WREG News Channel 3, Dolph was a regular customer for over ten years before his death. The overall goodness of its cookies and customer service made me return on the same day.

My tourist spot at Makeda’s Cookies was a unique experience that helped me understand why Dolph loved this place. After leaving Memphis, I spread the word about the establishment to my friends and gave them cookies to try. I left satisfied, knowing this would not be the last time I would purchase cookies from Makeda.

On this day, Makeda Cookies wanted to remember their beloved customer in return. The store honor Dolph Day by giving away 1,000 dolphin-shaped cookies to its customers and playing his music in rotation. November 17th still brings heavy hearts to the owners, who are praying for his family in the aftermath of his untimely death, according to WREG News Channel 3.

The rapper’s sister, Carlissa Brown, hosted Dolph Day to commemorate her brother’s legacy through the family foundation, The Ida Mae Foundation (named after the rapper’s grandmother). Before Dolph’s death, he had a turkey giveaway planned.

Brown shared with Action News 5, “We look forward to continuing to serve the communities and citizens that he loved dearly and continuing with our family’s belief in philanthropy throughout Memphis, Chicago, Atlanta, and beyond.”

Young Dolph Tribute at Makeda’s Homemade Cookies, September 30, 2023; Photo Credit: The Exclusive Press

According to Action News 5, the foundation partnered with Christ Missionary Baptist Church to host a food pantry and turkey giveaway at Hickory Hill Community, to name a few. Friday Coffee Black and Sweet Magnolia Gelata offered a signature Dolph Day drink, in which a portion of the sales goes towards the foundation.

Dolph conveys his love for his community to the world through his acts of charity, community work, and sharing his platform of Memphis businesses. Dolph was more than a rapper; he was about giving back to his hometown. He imprinted his mark and left a lasting impact on his love for his community, knowing that they, too, would preserve his legacy. Let us remember Dolph Day as a day of giving back.

For ways to help, click on the highlighted link, Ida Mae Family Foundation and Dolph Day, on ways to help.

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