7-Year-Old Rapper From D.C. Creates Song About Youth Slain By Gun Violence "Stop killing us fools / I'm speaking the truth / And I'm talking for the youth / Makiyah, Davon, and baby Melo too," raps Rasheed "DK A Dangerous Kid" Austin in "I Ask Why."
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NPR logo 7-Year-Old Rapper From D.C. Creates Song About Youth Slain By Gun Violence

7-Year-Old Rapper From D.C. Creates Song About Youth Slain By Gun Violence

The rapper behind the song is 7-year-old Rasheed "DK A Dangerous Kid" Austin, whose music video went viral after releasing in early January for its clear message: "People should stop killing kids," says Rasheed. Courtesy of Rarketta Austin/ hide caption

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Courtesy of Rarketta Austin/

The music video for the song "I Ask Why" starts with scenes of young Black children playing on playgrounds or getting off school buses. One of those children raps lyrics about past shootings in the District involving children.

"Time to grow up / Stop killing us fools / I'm speaking the truth / And I'm talking for the youth / Makiyah, Davon, and baby Melo too," the child says.

The rapper behind the song is 7-year-old Rasheed "DK A Dangerous Kid" Austin, a resident of Kenilworth in D.C. After his music video was shared earlier this month on the Instagram page DMVHoodzAndNewz, it quickly racked up more than 20,000 likes.

Rasheed's song has a clear message. "People should stop killing kids," he says.

His lyrics refer to real-life victims of gun violence in D.C. In 2018, 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson was shot and killed in the Clay Terrace neighborhood in Northeast D.C. while buying ice cream. Eleven-year-old Davon McNeal was killed in gunfire during a Fourth of July celebration in Cedar Gardens. In December, Carmelo Duncan, a 15-month-old boy, was shot and killed in D.C. while riding in a vehicle, making it the third shooting of a juvenile in D.C. that week.

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Austin says that Duncan's killing led him to write the song, with a message that kids should be able to grow up.

"When me, my sister, [and] mom were playing board games in the house, and then the news came on and they showed baby Melo, it made me feel some type of way," says Rasheed.

Rasheed's mother, Rarketta Austin, says she and his 11-year old sister, Zoey, suggested that Rasheed create a song. Rasheed has been rapping since age three, and comes from a musically talented family. It's not uncommon for a typical family gathering to include rap battles and freestyles in the living room.

"Everything Rasheed [raps], I write it down so that he won't forget it," says Rarketta, 31.

She says his consciousness about the world never ceases to amaze her. She was shocked when her son said the lyrics, "You dudes blind eyed? / Shooting killing babies in bibs"

"I just couldn't believe it because of his age, his wisdom, and that's what's really going on in the world," she says.

Her brother, Rashad Austin, who's the "MC of the family," helped slightly tweak some lyrics. "Rasheed said, 'COVID on the line' and my brother changed it to 'COVID stopping time,'" Rarketta says.

Rasheed recorded his song at Push Play Association in Suitland. Courtesy of Rarketta Austin/ hide caption

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Courtesy of Rarketta Austin/

After a week, the song was written, and Rasheed went to Push Play Association in Suitland, the studio owned by his cousin, Deundre Austin, to record.

Deundre has his own musical background, inspired by his brother's pursuit to build a record label. His brother, Delonte Austin, started a record label, Thug For Life. But he was shot while in his car at the age of 16 and paralyzed. Twenty years later, in 2017, he fell into a coma and died.

The producer of Rasheed's song is Jawaun "Push Play Wuan" Price, 20. Price also helped to film and edit the video, and reached out to media outlets to help publicize the song.

Price and Deundre say that gun violence has impacted them as well. Most of Price's family is incarcerated because of gun-related charges, and he experienced housing insecurity for several months as a result. In September 2020, he moved in with Deundre.

Music is an outlet for Price, who says he likes to "hear and produce real raw music," which he sensed when working with Rasheed. "He really feels the emotion," says Price.

The song was produced in two days, and Rasheed told Price that he wanted the music video to include an ice cream truck because "kids like ice cream." Price says he was surprised that Rasheed was so assertive about what he wanted.

Price decided on the playground to reflect that "kids are being killed everywhere." He chose to film at 37th place in Suitland because it was the site of "a lot" of deaths by gun violence, he says. Among them, Douglas 'Swipey' Brooks, a rapper, was shot and killed in 2016 outside a home in the 3600 block of Parkway Terrace Drive in Suitland.

The song comes after a year when gun violence in D.C. soared. In 2020, the city recorded 198 homicides, a 21% increase from 2019 — and the highest body count in D.C. in 15 years. The pandemic has complicated violence interrupters' efforts in the city because there's greater need due to layoffs and lack of access to food. The interrupters are trying to stop people from resorting to "desperate measures."

Price hopes the project helps people understand that "[gun violence] is not worth it. There's always a consequence."

For Rasheed's part, he says he "just want[s] everyone to be safe." The next track that Rasheed wants to work on is about being Muslim."I want people to know I'm Muslim," he says.

Price will be helping him with the project and says that Rasheed "has a team behind him, and he knows that."

This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.

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