Fighting rap violence with rap: Local mother drops positive music video after son murdered

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You can fight fire with fire, and a local mother is fighting rap violence with rap.

Tonya Love’s 17-year-old died a decade ago after getting mixed up in rap gangs. She’s now working to change the tone of the genre.


“He was my last baby, but he acted like he was first. He was just real beyond his years,” Love said. She added that her son Prosper Johnson, like his name, prospered at most things. But his life was cut short when he was shot and killed during a quadruple shooting on Linda Drive back in 2014.

Read: 4 shot: Neighbors heard loud gun battle in street

“Unfortunately, he got caught up in trouble and things like that. He wasn’t perfect,” Love admitted. “When his father divorced me, he divorced my son too unfortunately. When you have that — the programs that used to work in elementary school? Now they’re not interested in that anymore.”

Several years after he was murdered, Prosper’s name popped up in a rap video by Julio Foolio. The lyrics say, “Prosper got shot,” re-opening an old wound.

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“You’re naming all these children that are real people. This isn’t from a movie that you watched. These are real people, with real children, with real grief,” she said.

Love turned her heartbreak into motivation and created the non-profit “No Weapon Shall Prosper” in her son’s honor. She is working to fight rap violence with a different kind of lyric and recently dropped her latest music video.

“Gun violence and the drill music is like the Goliath that is coming and tormenting our community — Jacksonville,” she said. “Music is supposed to be beautiful... It’s supposed to be something you listen to that uplifts you.”

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She’s using her non-profit to steer young adults in the right direction and is currently working with the Merchant Seaman to re-direct teens. Her son had plans to go before he was shot and killed.

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