Music has the ability to move and transform a moment, a feeling, even a person. When music touches you, when the merged sounds and words reach you in that intimate way, you make a connection — with the music, with the performer, with the universe.

I’m saying all this now because Rapper Heavy D, Dwight Arrington Myers, died on Nov. 8 at age 44.

I’d be lying to claim I’m a devoted Heavy D fan. I didn’t really follow his career, never went to a performance or collected his albums. But if he was on television I didn’t turn away, if I heard something about him I remembered it and I had plans to pick up some songs from his latest CD, Love Opus.

But Heavy D earned a place in my life with his “Peaceful Journey” album, released in 1991. It was with that music he connected with me, enriching my life in the process.

On the album he impressed me with the message in “Don’t Curse” — that you can rhyme, rap and communicate without foul language. “Somebody for Me” sounded a lament I related to, looking for someone interested in who I am, not in knowing me because of what I do or can do for them. In “Letter to the Future” he spoke to the younger generation, trying to point out other choices they can make. These songs stand among my all time favorites. But it is “Peaceful Journey” that has a home in my heart.

A kid on the streets, doesn’t want to be beat, so he hangs on the block till his pop falls asleep.

With this song Heavy D reminds us that everyone has a story, each of us is on a journey and that many of our stories are hard in a way others cannot imagine or understand.

When you walk on the streets, try to walk with street smarts. And when you see your man down, try to have a little heart.

He asks us to reach out to each other, to understand, to help each other, and to change. Then he blesses us, sending us on our journey, hoping, praying we go in peace.

This one is for you and I truly hope you heard me. And through all your travels, I’m wishing you a peaceful journey.

Those words remind me how important it is to look outward and not inward, to really see people, to understand that their reaction to the world around them has more to do with what is going on with them than with me. It made me realize that part of my job, everyday, is to look until I can see the hopes, needs and dreams of others and to do my part to move them peacefully forward on their journey.

While I can’t claim to be perfect at it, I thank you Heavy D, for that gift.

That was 20 years ago, when he was just 24 years old. He was already making an impression and doing his part to leave the world better than he found it. During those 20 years, he has always appeared to be that same gentle spirit, on that same mission — to have his words, actions and work make the world a better place.

Many will mourn his death because he was a good musician with hit records or a decent actor with some interesting television and film credits. Some will mourn because he was a beloved family member and friend.

I mourn the loss of the good he could have done that the world will never see. So, I share my thoughts hoping a few people will be moved to revisit the work he left us and be inspired, making his legacy of good and transformation, as vibrant as his life.
Peaceful journey, Heavy D. Your loving spirit will be missed.

Talibah Chikwendu is a columnist and freelance writer.


Talibah Chikwendu

Special to the AFRO