Making music for wounded warriors

Rapper The Real Laww, a.k.a. Jay Lawrence, is a multi-talented man who can spit a rhyme, thrill a crowd, organize a concert and raise money for his fellow Marines — all in a single event.

The 2nd Annual Concert Benefiting Wounded Warriors featuring local musicians is the labor of Lawrence’s love proving this point.

“I’m just trying to help out by doing what I love doing: music, ” Lawrence said.

Lawrence, a Marine himself, was motivated to create the first benefit concert by his recent experiences serving at Camp Leatherneck. The base, located in the Helmand province in Afghanistan, happened to have a Wounded Warrior section for those injured in service.

“I knew a couple of guys in the conflict that were hurt pretty bad, and so I spent a lot of time there,” Lawrence said. “I wanted to give back to the great experience the Marines gave me.”

Rapping, on the other hand, was something Lawrence developed a talent for in high school, honing his craft in lunchroom battles and organized showcases. This developed into a career, and after moving to the Triangle, he established himself as one of the top emcees of the local rap scene.

Using his pull in the music business and the promotional assistance of his friend Professor Toon, Lawrence organized last year’s concert at the Casbah in Durham after returning from his military service. The show was a sold-out success that raised $1,500 for the Wounded Warrior Project, a foundation that assists injured American service members.

The popularity of last year’s show prompted Steve Gardner, former talent buyer for the Casbah, to connect Lawrence with Motorco general manager Jeremy Roth for this year’s concert.

“We had known Jay and Toon anyway, they had done events here before, but they were looking for a larger space, and Motorco is larger,” Roth said. “We were happy to have the event. We had heard it was interesting and we wanted to have it here.”

Lawrence organized the show, recruiting the artists and funding, while working with Roth on the date.

Saturday’s concert will feature a diverse array of bands, ranging from The Chit Nasty Band to Jessica Long & the New Kind to DJ Shahzad. Also featured will be Lawrence’s own act, Toon & the Real Laww.

“I wanted it to be a little mixed genre — Chit is a funk band, Jessica is a pop band, and myself and my boy Toon are a hip-hop band,” Lawrence said. “I wanted to branch out to all genres. I wanted a lot of people to come together.”

Professor Toon, who also played last year’s show, relished the experience.

“The fact that everyone who was there was gathered for a good cause made it all the better,” Toon said.

This year, Lawrence hopes to raise a total of $10,000 dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project. He has a website that he hopes to use in tandem with ticket sales to reach his goal.

“Well, I hope to raise a lot of money for those guys and gals over there at war — that’s my ultimate goal — and I hope to bring a bunch of people together to enjoy music,” Lawrence said. “If they haven’t experienced any of the music that’ll be there, I hope to get them on to some new music and some variety.”

Contact the desk editor at diversions@dailytarheel.com.


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