Saturday, April 3, 2010

LO AND YELLOW BOY: Staying "Connected" After Suffering Loss

LO AND YELLOW BOY: Staying "Connected" After Suffering Loss
by Cyrus Webb


Music was the unifying force between the members of the Mississippi-based Hip Hop group known as Playa Connected---and its founder, Carl Watts aka C. Watts, was also the face of it's name. For years they had been working to get their music heard and build their brand as an independent voice in the streets; however, on Friday, February 26, 2010, the group was delivered a heart-breaking blow with the death of the man who was it's driving force. Carl Watts passed away at the young age of 33, leaving remaining members Yellow Boy (age 25), Lo (age 22), Shaud (age 20), Iceberg (age 20) and Lil Earl (age 19) behind with a difficult decision: would they press on or would Playa Connected die with its leader?

The answer was simple.

"Playa Connected lives on," says Lo, who was not just a member of the group but related to Watts. "C. Watts didn't get to see his dream fully realized, so it's up to us to make sure we take it as far as we can. We can't give up."

For Yellow Boy, it's just as personal. "It was Carl that got me into rapping. I saw his drive and the passion he had for music, and that inspired me to get into it. I'm even more determined now, because I'm doing it for him and for all of us."


(Carl Watts seen here just two days before his death on Fri. February 26, 2010) Carl Watts managed to inspire people in and outside of music. There were many things that could have sidelined him: dealing with a speech impediment, several health issues and in 2009 suffering the loss of his mother---yet he pushed onward, accomplishing more than some individuals twice his age. In 2008, C. Watts was invited to New Orleans to perform in front of major label executives during a music showcase. In 2009 the group was able to get some radio play of their song "Habit", and other songs like "Substitute" were creating a modest buzz as well.

"Music was a part of the way he dealt with what was going on around him," Lo explains. "With music he didn't stutter. It was as if that was when he was truly alive."

Both Lo and Yellow Boy agree that Carl also stressed the business side of the music industry as well, letting them know the importance of marketing and promoting. "If something was going on dealing with music," says Yellow Boy, "Carl was going to be there if he could. He believed in networking just as much as performing. It wsa about keeping the name out there and being seen."

The members of Playa Connected have also vowed to keep up the work their founder did outside of music,too. In 2008 Carl became involved in a literacy-based project called Hip Hop and Books. It was a unique campaign began by fellow Mississippi native Cyrus Webb and national recording artist C-Murder geared towards encouraging reading among the urban community. The events included not just books but music as well. In early 2010 it was announced that this year's National Spokesperson for Hip Hop and Books would be National Recording artist/author Jacki-O---someone who Carl was a big fan of.


(Watts seen here with Jacki-O in 2010) Watts and Jacki-O had met in 2008 when she was in Mississippi promoting her novel GROWN AND GANGSTA. In fact, the last post on Watts' Facebook page before he died was that he was reading her book.

"We were just talking about Jacki-O and the book the day he died," Lo recalls. "He was telling me how good it was and some of the things going on in it. It made me want to read it."





Though it hasn't been easy to go into the studio without the man who gave them their start, both Lo and Yellow Boy know they have a responsibility to do it not just for themselves but to show appreciation for C. Watts' memory and hard work.

"It's Playa Connected for life," says Lo, who has taken on the name Lo Watts in honor of his cousin and friend's memory. "We can't stop. Watts' music will live on in us all. We're going to make sure of it."

For more information about Lo and Yellow Boy, contact Cyrus Webb at cawebb4@juno.com or 601.896.5616. You can also visit www.shadowplayent.com.

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