Obe Noir, Houston rapper and friend of George Floyd, shot dead at 31

Rapper Obe Noir, a close friend of George Floyd whose lyrics sought to expose systemic racism and police brutality, was shot and killed early this week after witnesses reported seeing the man running for his life as a car chased him through downtown Houston.

Noir, whose real name was Xavier Roberson, was 31 years old.

So far no arrests have been made, and Houston police have not named any suspects. The motive for the slaying also remains a mystery, along with a description of the car driven by the gunmen.

The shooting happened before sunrise Monday, according to the Houston Chronicle. The crackle of gunfire woke up residents about 3:40 a.m. Eyewitnesses said shots were fired from a vehicle that circled the block and closed in “as if chasing Roberson,” police said.

Two men then exited the vehicle to finish the job and sped away, leaving Roberson behind — dead in the street.

Noir was widely known as the “Nipsey Hussle of East Texas,” the Chronicle reported, a reference to another rapper who was gunned down in Los Angeles two years ago.

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Roberson and Floyd knew each other from Cuney Homes, a Third Ward housing project where they both grew up before Floyd ran into trouble and moved to Minneapolis to turn his life around.

After Floyd’s police custody death on Memorial Day last year, a deeply affected Roberson turned to activism and joined protest marches in Houston and Washington, D.C.

In honor of his late friend, Roberson had been planning to launch a nonprofit to provide financial assistance to residents in the community.

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Cal Wayne, another Houston rapper who grew up with Floyd in Cuney Homes, said Roberson stuck out among other aspiring rappers “because of his vocabulary — how fluent he was. How much he could articulate a story on any topic.”

Roberson also played professional basketball in several foreign countries, including Colombia, where local news reports about his death hailed him as a “great figure” on the team known as Titanes de Barranquilla. The Chronicle reported Roberson received MVP honors during a 2018 championship tournament.

Residents from Houston’s Third Ward were said to be in mourning over the tragedy.

An investigation is continuing.

Information provided by The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.