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SoVaNow.com / February 15, 2017Local rap artist Quinton Watson knows what it’s like to struggle, fall down, and get back up again. He knows what it’s like to grow up without a father — because he cared more about drugs than his family — and to lose a brother to the gang life and then prison.
During his senior year in high school, Watson was involved in a car crash that nearly took his life. He suffered a broken neck, which put an end to his dream of joining the Navy. He drifted around with no real plans for the next few years, eventually moving to Richmond in hopes of jump-starting a music career.
His passion for music began when he was about nine years old.
For him, however, Richmond was the wrong place at the wrong time. He was arrested for possession of heroin. Because he had no prior record — not even a traffic ticket — his record was cleared after two years of good behavior.
During those two years, Watson couldn’t find work. He opted to get a college degree. He’s now one semester away from earning a degree in business.
Life has not been easy for this rapper, whose professional name, ironically, is M.Easy.
Now he wants to help others — by showing youths in the area that there is more to life than drugs, guns and gangs. He also wants the community to heal from the violence that has scarred Chase City these past few months.
His upcoming “Stop the Violence” benefit concert — scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Robert E. Lee Community Center in Chase City — is his way of helping mend the community. Watson said the show will be family-friendly with clean music and positive vibes.
“Due to all the recent tragic events in our area, I believe we as artists should be the voice for our people and community [to come together] because we would have the biggest impact,” Watson said, adding that he knew both of the recent victims of gun violence in town — Michael Jerome Stewart, 33, who was found dead face down in the street in October, and Dwight Tucker Jr., 25, discovered in an automobile in January 2017 with a fatal gun wound.
Both deaths remain under investigation.
“Regardless of how you felt about these guys, they did not deserve to die the way they did,” said Watson. “They’re somebody’s father, and now their children have no father. That’s not right.”
Proceeds from the concert — Watson is charging $5 per person at the door — will be presented to the families in the form of a scholarship or a savings bond. “Please help us make this event a success and give these kids a jump start toward their education and help us come together to better our community and save our youth,” said Watson.
This Stop the Violence benefit is part of a national movement begun by rapper KRS-One in 1987 in response to violence in the hip hop and African American communities.
In 1987, during a concert by Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy, a young fan was killed in a fight. The death occurred shortly after Scott La Rock, a founding member of Boogie Down Productions, was slain in a shooting.
KRS-One responded to these deaths by forming the Stop the Violence Movement to advance a vision of hip hop that would restore what he called hip hop’s original principles to the music industry. Composed of some of the biggest stars in contemporary East Coast hip hop, the movement released a single, “Self Destruction,” in 1988, with all proceeds going to the National Urban League.
Watson said he’d like to host monthly events where known and emerging musicians, poets and other artists perform and then mix and mingle with local youths. He says the best way to connect with the youth of today his through music and the arts.
Watson said that despite all the negative influences in his life, there were many positives. The older kids, including his brother, tried to steer him away from the path of drugs and crime that they were going down themselves. When Watson would try to hang out with them on the street, they’d say, “Go home. Don’t be me.”
There were also people like Chase City Police Chief Jay Jordan, who ran an after-school program patterned after Boys and Girls Clubs. And there were James Bohannon and Whitaker, who coached Little League. “We kids couldn’t wait for school to get out on Fridays or during the summer so we could hang with each other at these places.”
Even while he was still young, Watson said he watched as townspeople let the programs go by the wayside. For too long, “kids had no one encouraging them to change their ways. New people moved in from the city and instead of saying ‘don’t be me,’ their message became ‘come join me.’”
Now Watson wants to be the one setting a positive message and example. While he’s happy to see Little League return to Chase City, kids today need alternatives to sports, Watson said. He’ll tell you the best way to reach them is through music and social media.
Now he’s using the “gang mentality” to reach them — saying, “Come join me. Come be me.” “If I can get just one out of a group to join me, the rest will jump on board, and these concerts and events will be a centerpiece for youth activity.”
Music is his platform to help and inspire others who may be growing up under circumstances similar to what he experienced. “There’s so many ways to be a voice and that’s what I’m figuring out,” said Watson. “Being a rapper, it’s about telling stories that could heal, that could open up discussion that could make the community better. If I could help be that voice, then that’s what I’m going to do”
CommentsSo glad to see this young black man trying to make a difference. I commend him for what he is trying to do. If our youth had more positive role models our world would be so much better. I pray your event is successful and OUR youth are receptive. May God bless you!
- By saddened by recent events on 02 / 15 / 17
CommentsKeep pressing forward brother and let your light so shine that man will see your good work. The best is yet to come. God bless you
- By Shuntwayne on 02 / 15 / 17
CommentsI want to rhank you so much for what you are doing...Our family really do appreciate it...Losing Michael the way we did was and still a hard pill to swallow...Michael was not just my 1st cousin we were more like brother and sister...And I will forever miss him...Thank you so much Mr.Watson I will be there
- By Raven Stewart on 02 / 15 / 17
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