ROCKFORD (WREX) — On Tuesday night, 40-year-old Robert Wash was shot and killed in Rockford. According to the Rockford Police Department, his death was not random and the investigation is still ongoing.
Wash was a local rapper known to use his talent in a positive way to make a difference in his community. Wash started music at the age of five.
“History was made,” said Saxophonist and community activist Harlan Jefferson.
Rockford native Robert Wash had a way with words through the art of music. His uncle, Houston Thomas Sterling Jr., says Wash was a people person, collaborative and he got along with everyone.
“He was very inspirational because he was able to deliver a word like a preacher. Even though that wasn’t his goal, to be a preacher,” said Jefferson.
Wash began his musical career at Levings Park performing at an event called Live at Levings. He learned how to deliver positive messages through his music as he grew older. As a mentor and friend, Jefferson says when Wash rapped people listened and were inspired.
“Through us, he learned a lot about the hip-hop industry. He learned a lot about jazz, R&B, blues, classical, Hispanic music, all types of music,” said Jefferson.
Known to have a dictionary in his back packet, the rapper wrote about what he saw and experienced on the south side of Rockford. His lyrics encouraged the community to come together to stop violence and to do good in the world.
“His life meant more to people than he would have ever known,” said Jefferson.
“It was a gift that a lot of people don’t have, put it on paper and it comes out like magic,” said co-owner of Deep End Productions Record Label Duntai Mathews.
Magic that both children and adults can relate to. Through the Rockford Park District, Wash taught aspiring musicians tips and tricks on how to write lyrics.
“If they love rap music but didn’t know their ABC’s he taught them how to utilize the concept of learning rap to utilize the same concept of learning the ABC’s,” said Jefferson.
Family members say Wash lived out what he wrote about and will remember his intelligence and talent.
“He’s gone but we still have his music which we can always carry for the rest of our lives,” said Mathews.
Remembering the good in the world and inspiring others to be peaceful.