From Big L to Stack Bundles, the story of burgeoning rappers getting murdered before their time is known too well in hip-hop. Last year, Dolla, born Roderick Anthony Burton, suffered a similar fate as he was gunned down in an L.A. shopping mall before his rap dreams could be fully realized.

The Atlanta based MC began his career as one-third Da Razkalz Cru, a teenage rap group that scored a few local hits like “So Fly.” Dolla eventually went solo and found success with the T-Pain and Tay Dizm-assisted single “Who the Fuck is That?” and “I’m Fucked Up” in 2008. Signed to Akon’s Konvict Music, the budding rap star had earned the respect of his peers and was on his way to stardom when his life was cut short by a bullet.

With Dolla’s murder trial opening earlier this month and today (May 18) being the one-year anniversary of his passing, caught up with Dolla’s former rhyme partner and cousin Scrapp Deleon to shed light on the short life of a young man fans didn’t have a chance to know.

R.I.P. Dolla: November 25, 1987 – May 18, 2009

loading... You often refer to Dolla as your brother but you’re actually cousins, right?

Scrapp Deleon: He’s my first cousin but we were raised in the same house so everybody knows us as brothers. How have you been coping with losing Dolla this past year?

Scrapp Deleon: I just sit and think about all the good times we had. I just opened up a restaurant called Buck’s Barbeque in memory of him because we called him Buck, and I have a lot of videos of him… Spending time with our family helps me get through it too. Your latest mixtape is entitled, No Better Therapy. Do you use music as a way to cope as well?

Scrapp Deleon: Music has been major therapy for me, especially after losing my brother. It has been a major way for me to express how I’m feeling and to talk about what I’m going through. I really put my heart into the first one. I’m doing another one with Don Cannon called No Better Therapy 2 that’s coming out some time this year. How much of what you’re doing now is influenced by Dolla?

Scrapp Deleon: Everything. My brother loved music as much as I did and it’s unfortunate that what he was doing was cut short because he had a lot of things to say and a lot of material he had was not heard, so I felt obligated to continue his legacy by putting out what he believed in, what he lived for and what he stood for, as well as start my own. But Dolla has over 100 songs that were never heard before so we’re going to release some of that music. I’m opening up a non-profit organization for kids called the Dolla Foundation to promote kids going to school. What’s going on with the trial?

Scrapp Deleon: I can’t really talk about it but it started [week before last] and they’re not sure when it’s going to end. We often see rap deaths go unsolved. Do you think justice will be served this time around?

Scrapp Deleon: Somebody was killed on tape so I don’t have to talk about what will happen. But I think it was a very unfortunate situation where a lot of lives were just wasted due to negligence. Okay, Dolla was just starting to get recognition before he died. Do you have any funny stories or fond memories of him to give fans a better idea of who he was?

Scrapp Deleon: I don’t have any funny stories but he was the ultimate competitor. We were always competing because he wouldn’t let me beat him or do nothing better. You know the powder that you put on the bottom of your shoe when you go bowling? Well, we moved into an apartment that had nothing to do and we played hacky sack… We played for four hours until it all ran out. Neither one of us knew how to play but we were bored and had nothing to do so we starting kicking it and it turned into an Olympic game. That game wasn’t even important but we kept going and kept going, that’s how competitive we are. What’s going on with your music career now?

Scrapp Deleon: The name of my movement, squad, organization family or whatever you want to call it is Natural Born Leaders—NBL. I named it that because I’m a firm believer in you should be a leader in life. That’s what best describes me so that’s what I named my organization. And we all are trying to move forward to the top in whatever it is we’re doing. We support each other. You may have an actor, you may have someone who goes to school, you may have this person that raps and sings and we all just support each other. So in order to be a good leader you have to be a good follower so right now we’ve just been doing a lot of shows in Atlanta. Do you ever plan to transition beyond the indie realm?

Scrapp Deleon: I’m satisfied with being independent because I know my vision. Nobody knows it better than I know it. I’m pretty hands-on. I have a lot of control and when it’s time to go to the record labels, I would like to have a business meeting instead of just shopping my music. So when they do come we’ll have to come to an agreement with each other instead of taking what they give me. Me and my team work really hard so when it is time, everything will be in our favor. ⎯Starrene Rhett

Scrapp Deleon - My Big Brother Dolla [R.I.P. Dolla]