Police believe rapper Lionel "Chinx" Pickens was followed from Brooklyn to Queens where he was gunned down early Sunday morning during a drive-by shooting, a law enforcement official said.

Pickens had just performed at the Red Wolf nightclub in Brooklyn when he and two associates drove in a Porsche to a hookah bar on Union Turnpike, which had already been closed for about two hours, the official said.

Seeing that the Cloud 9 hookah bar on Union Turnpike was closed, Pickens dropped off a man who was serving as his security and, with friend Antar Alziadi, was at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 84th Drive in Briarwood when the shooting occurred, the official explained.

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It was at that location about 4 a.m. that police said the Porsche with Pickens, 31, and Alziadi, 27, was hit by at least seven bullets. The shooting occurred about 2 miles from the closed hookah bar.

Pickens was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and Alziadi was in critical but stable condition.

"I think it was a setup," said the official, who declined to be identified. "This was not a road rage episode. This was an assassination."

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Pickens, billed as a rising star, had past problems with the law. In 2005, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison after being charged with a robbery in Suffolk County, the official said. Pickens also had a number of earlier drug arrests but their disposition couldn't be determined, the official noted.

Police were still searching for a motive to the shooting late Monday and a search for videos that may have captured the shooting had so far been unsuccessful, the official said.