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Who is Tooka? Chicago gang member and King Von lyrics inspiration

Iram Sharifah Khan November 9, 2020
who is tooka

Who is Tooka, the Chicago teen, who in 2012 was murdered in a gruesome gang shooting? And why is he so hated nowadays? Eight years after his killing, Tooka is reappearing in King Von’s lyrics and in internet discussions.

Let’s unpack this.

Who is Tooka?

Shondale Gregory, better known by his street name, Tooka, was a 15-year-old from Chicago.

Image via Reddit

On 12 January 2012, Tooka was waiting at a bus stop when a car pulled up in front of him. A passenger got out of the car and, after exchanging a few words, shot the teen multiple times. Tooka was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Shondale Gregory, aka Tooka, was a known affiliate of Chicago gang the Gangster Disciples (GD). His shooting is thought to have been in retaliation for the death of another gang member, 17-year-old Eddrick Walker, aka Ty, who was part of the Black Disciples (BD) and is thought to have been killed by GD members.

As retribution for Tooka’s death, GD killed another BD gang member, 20-year-old Odee Perry. According to the Daily Mail, one of Tooka’s closest friends, Gakirah Barnes, may have been responsible for the killing. The Mail called her “one of the most notorious female gang members in US history”.

Barnes was murdered in 2014, at the age of 17, as supposed retaliation for Odee Perry’s slaying.

Why does King Von hate Tooka?

King Von is a rapper from O Block, in the south side of Chicago, named after Odee Perry by fellow gang members. King Von is the grandson of BD founder David Barksdale, otherwise known as King Dave.

As part of the rivalry between Chicago gangs, their members taunt each other via songs or on social media and King Von has mentioned “smoking tooka” various times.

Urban Dictionary defines “smoking tooka” as: “A word used to describe potent marijuana. Originated after Shondale ‘Tooka’ Gregory was murdered (smoked) by Chief Keef’s crew Black Disciples. Now ‘smoking tooka’ is used to humiliate Shondale’s death.”

In his song All These N****s, King Von raps the line: “Tooka in my lung, I say that every time, ’cause he got smoked. (He got smoked).”

This line is the reason Tooka is now back in the news and it’s causing the online community to speculate why King Von seems to hate him so much.

One user took to Reddit to say he thinks it’s because King Von took a beating from Tooka at some point.

In the video, a user is seen at 1:29 saying “F*** Tooka we took his life”. The video, originally posted on Instagram, reached over 8,000 views on live feed and is one of the reasons why the teen’s name is now trending online, more than eight years after his death.

Tooka is one of many gang members who have been brutally murdered and then mocked online. However, he is one of the few whose name is now known across the world.

To understand more about gang violence, watch this informational video on Chicago’s gang war.

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Iram is a London-based freelance journalist with a BA in Journalism and Media from Birkbeck University. She studied several modules, including Journalism in British Life, Interview skills and Feature Writing, Introduction to Journalism Practice and Manga and Anime. Iram went from university to work with GRV Media at The Focus Writers’ Academy and enjoys learning Japanese, taking singing lessons, playing video games and watching Korean dramas in her spare time.