The three founding members of the 5th Ward Boyz, a group whose hardcore gangsta raps helped make Houston’s Rap-A-Lot Records a nationwide brand, will reunite on Sunday, December 23 from 2pm – 6pm for a “Stop the Violence Unity Concert” at Brewster Park in their old neighborhood.
The free event will feature music, a memorial time for victims of violent deaths, and “empowerment moments” of inspiration from community leaders including Houston City Councilman Jerry Davis who represents 5th Ward’s district B.
Andre “007″ Barnes
5th Ward Boyz member Andre “007″ Barnes said he organized the affair in response to a rash of violence in the area – a reported eight murders in a two-month span, including four that took place back-to-back.
“When we were releasing records the 5th Ward used to be unified. But now, there’s some Hatfield and McCoy stuff going on with retaliatory shootings and killings,” Barnes said. “We just felt the need to talk to the brothers in our community and tell them there’s a better way.”
For many of the members of the 5th Ward Boyz that way includes a 180 degree life change through a faith in Jesus Christ. Barnes, who once served felony time for a bank robbery, now owns a Christian bookstore, serves as a youth mentor, and records and performs gospel rap music. Richard “Lo Life” Nash and Eric “E-Rock” Taylor‘s lives and music appear to be following similar paths.
Barnes said that on Sunday he anticipates appearances and/or musical contributions from artists such as Bun B, Gifted da Flamethrowa, and Derrick Chism. The day will also serve as a toy drive for underprivileged youth.
Here’s an example of what the 5th Ward Boyz are about these days: