A Queens rapper was shot to death and his passenger severely injured in a drive-by shooting early Sunday in the Briarwood area, the NYPD said.

The rapper, Lionel "Chinx" Pickens, 31, was driving west on Queens Boulevard at 84th Drive when a car pulled up next to him just before 4 a.m. and started shooting, peppering the car with bullets, according to police. The pair managed to come to a stop at a Dunkin' Donuts near 84th Drive and called 911 themselves, police said.

Pickens, who was shot multiple times in the torso, was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. His 27-year-old passenger was shot in the back and taken to the same hospital in critical condition.

Pickens, raised in Far Rockaway, was a member of the Coke Boys and released several projects, including his 2012 record, "I'm A Coke Boy," featuring French Montana, according to his website.

"I don't want to fit in," Pickens was quoted as saying on the site. "I want people to respect my music. I have the drive to be original and to stay true to who I am as a person and as an artist, and not create a gimmick with my artistry."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

A law-enforcement official said Pickens had been arrested on a first-degree robbery charge in Suffolk County in 2003. Following his conviction, he was sentenced to prison, where he served three years beginning in 2005. He also had been arrested on drug charges in Suffolk in the late 1990s, the source said, and had another arrest on an attempted murder charge.

Police were still looking for possible suspects Sunday. A motive for the shooting was not immediately clear. But the law-enforcement official said the rapper, who had just given a performance at the Red Wolf night club in Brooklyn, was targeted.

"This was a hit, no doubt about it," the official said.

With Anthony M. DeStefano