The recent protest of racial injustice and police brutality resonated with Devon Howard, commonly referred to by his stage name of Neotic, but it also served as a painful reminder for him.
Fourteen years ago, Neotic’s then 23-year old cousin Antonio Bryant was shot and killed by police in Newburgh, New York, after a random traffic stop erupted into a deadly shootout and foot chase with little warning.
No one may ever know for sure why Antonio Bryant started shooting at a plainclothes cop as police allege in 2006 that left Bryant dead in the middle of the street.
Many of the residents in the close-knit city knew Bryant mainly as the son of Omari Shakur, a 50-year-old poet and activist who is often a sharp critic of the mainly white police force.
Over and over around the lit candles marking Bryant’s death, the talk was not of Bryant gunning away at police; it was about a Black Newburgh resident known on every block on both sides of Broadway killed by city police, few of whom lived in Newburgh and fewer still who were black.
“We were born 13 days apart,” recalled Neotic.
He chronicles messages about his slain cousin in his music.
The aspiring rap star relocated to Inglewood about four years ago.
While working in Washington D. C., he met the love of his life, Inglewood native Danielle Lowe and in his pursuit followed her back home to the City of Champions.
“I never stopped being a dreamer and having her on my side has had a positive impact on my life,” he explained to Inglewood Today.
The couple shares a dotting daughter Brynn Howard and have plans to wed in the near future.
COVID-19 and the national revolution following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota have shelved most of their plans, but it has not prevented him from continuing to create music.
“I have done a lot of things that I am not proud of, but I want to be an inspiration for others now.”
The hip-hop artist, director and producer say the current state of the world has made him more humble.
“It’s been hard to think about myself with everything going on in the world.”
He says that the protest has been really emotional for him, but he’s concerned that there is no end goal.
Among his most popular songs, Lonesome I and Lonesome II, telling his life story as a Black man as a father.
In addition to young Brynn, he has also father to two other children that live back east.
“I came to Inglewood all the way from Beacon, New York and it has turned out to be good for me and my family,” he said.