Those were the last words that Kahlil Thompson of York said to his close friend Dashaun Davis in July 2014.
“I tell everyone to be safe,” he said. “There’s so much going on around here.”
But he never expected a week later to hear the news that Davis was killed, while sitting in his car listening to music on Union Street in downtown York – a victim of an attempted robbery.
He was 23.
“It was the first time I cried since I was a child,” Thompson said.
“There are a lot of murders going on around York. I always see them and say, ‘I hope the best for the family.’ But when it hit home with someone I know, I really felt it.”
Thompson – who at the time had recently begun working on his first hip hop album with producer Keith Mitchell, of Germantown, Md. – knew this was a story he needed to tell.
“One thing about our music is it’s really relating personal experiences to day-to-day problems we see,” Thompson said.
In the last two years, Thompson and Mitchell – who make up the hip hop duo Lost Cause – recorded 11 songs, each based on actual experiences from life in York, for their first album “Paradise Depression.”
"Paradise Depression" symbolizes the idea that there are two sides to life, but no matter what is happening, you have to push through, Mitchell said.
They released the album March 18.
“Dedicated,” which tells the story of Davis’ murder, is the 11th track on the album, Thompson, now 23, said.
“That’s what’s motivating my music,” he said. “I still feel him here … He’s missed but never forgotten.”
Other songs on the album confront additional issues such as suicide and body image.
But while their songs do address serious topics, Thompson and Mitchell said they make it a priority to do so in a positive way.
“It’s not only to bring light to (these issues), but to offer solutions,” Mitchell said.
“We talk about the streets and violence,” Thompson added. “If we’re going to talk about it, it’s how are we going to fix it, not glorifying it.”
Through what they call “blue collar hip hop,” Lost Cause points to unity, positivity and supportiveness in the community as possible solutions in several of their songs.
It’s finding that balance where positivity is outweighing negativity, Thompson said.
Their music consists of original beats and lyrics that draw from hip hop, R&B, gospel, classical, reggae and rock influences. In other words, you’ll hear more than the typical hip hop rhythms and cadences you hear on the radio, Mitchell said.
Lost Cause is working on its second album and has plans to book shows in York in the near future.
In the meantime, the duo’s first single and music video “Decoys” is now available on YouTube, and their second single “Based on a True Story” is expected to be released soon.
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