In Memoriam: Kevlaar 7–The List

Kevlaar-7There was no one who expressed more pride in my SoulTrain.com interview with hip-hip producer/artist Bronze Nazareth than his The Wisemen group mate and brother, Kevlaar 7. In fact, the two biggest takeaways from my conversation with the acclaimed Wu-Tang affiliate were the compliments Kevlaar paid me for writing it, the other being Bronze’s attentive eye contact during our conversation. There was a time I looked forward to interviewing him a second time, but I know now I could never look him in the eyes again—at least not without shedding a few tears.

It was with the most reluctance I had to add Kevlaar 7 to “The List”.

Writing is my passion, and finding words and ideas don’t always come easy. For that reason I carry a tattered red composition notebook to sort things out. Somewhere near its middle I keep a list. Created since I joined SoulTrain.com, it’s a list of every entertainer I’ve written about after they’ve passed away. It seems each addition gets more personal, also harder to etch between those lines.

Kevlaar 7_wideviewI was shocked when Vesta Williams passed because I’d just interviewed her. I scribed a tale about Heavy D, one of my all-time favorite hip-hop artists, right before his passing also. The loss of Dick Clark, Casey Kasem, and recently Robin Williams were incredibly heartfelt because they each, for one reason or another, reminded of my late grandmother. The passing of Soul Train creator Don Cornelius was a challenge because I’d been preparing a star-studded tribute article in his honor months before his demise.

But I’d never met any of them in person. We’d never shaken hands or shared a laugh. That’s why writing Kevlaar 7’s name behind Larry Smith and Joe Cocker was preceded by wet dots on my t-shirt.

I remembered meeting him at a Mona Lisa Productions’ The Come Up event, introduced by owner Lisa Dowie. I recalled another of her events he was hosting. He was on stage addressing the crowd when I walked in. “Oh [snap], Mr. Joe Walker!” he exclaimed into the microphone when he saw me, next giving the audience this outstanding complimentary introduction of who and what I was. He made me feel like I was star, someone of great importance. Much appreciated, but I’m just a writer. Kevlaar 7 was a lyricist.

Then there was his response to my interview about his brother. Genuine. Proud. It all came back to me when I learned he was gone. I didn’t want it to. Not like that. Not in that way. Not for that reason.

Kevlaar 7 (born Kevin Cross in Grand Rapid, MI) passed away suddenly and unexpectedly December 23, 2014 from a blood disorder. The rhymer and producer built a catalog of dynamic wordplay not soon to be forgotten by his many fans, and one that begs to be explored by first time listeners.

Beloved throughout his home state of Michigan, across our United States and beyond, the hip-hop star will undoubtedly be missed. I’m sure his brother Bronze’s eyes will show the extent of how much, if I had the fortitude to look and see.

Rest In Peace Kevin Cross, aka Kevlaar 7 (May 1977–December 2014)

—Mr. Joe Walker

Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, Mr. Joe Walker is a biographer, author, entertainment journalist and columnist, currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and consultant/writer for Liquid Arts & Entertainment’s liquidae.com. Also co-creator of TheGrooveSpot.com, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog ByMrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.

One Comment

  1. Alice Kay says:

    Such a great talent and amazing man. The world has lost a great gift. May he rest in peace. <3

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