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“I’m an Indiana boy,” declared Fort Wayne rapper Vigilante in a recent interview. “I’ve had offers to go down to Atlanta or Texas, but I’m staying here because I want Indiana to be successful. Nobody wants it as much as I do. I want to carry the whole scene on my back and make it big.” And with just those words you get an idea of what Vigilante is all about.
At first glance Vigilante might seem like your everyday gangsta rapper. He appears to be a guy who has lived a hard life, carries a hard exterior and makes even harder music, but his lyrics argue otherwise. Beneath the hard exterior lies a man who wants to be heard so that he can help others by teaching them the difficult lessons he learned at a very young age.
“You know, I’ve been burying friends since I was eight years old,” he said. “Death is one thing we can never escape, and I’ve seen a lot of it. I’ve been through a lot. I’m still experiencing a lot. And I know that there are a lot of people out there who have gone though some of the [stuff] I’ve gone through. With my music I just want to let them know that there are others who understand what they are feeling. If they are down or depressed or feel like they won’t ever be able to get out of the bad situation they’re in, I want them to know that that doesn’t have to be their reality. I’ve been there and done that. I want them to know that they can make it through.
“People, especially younger people, keep their feelings bottled up and sometimes they reach a point where they are finally going to blow. That’s when the bad stuff happens. I want to let them know that I feel what they feel and know what they are going through.”
While rap music, especially from artists like Public Enemy, The Geto Boys and NWA, is sometimes viewed in a negative context by much of the general public, Vigilante says that listening to those artists when he was younger helped prepare him for life.
“Listening to that music while living on the streets that I came from made me more comfortable with what was happening around me,” he said. “I look at that type of rap as ‘reality rap,’ because that’s what I have lived. That stuff they are talking about might not be real to a lot of people, but it is real to me. I know a lot of people don’t like how violent the lyrical content is, but they have to understand that it’s just someone expressing themselves the only way they know how. Everyone’s not politically correct.”
In case there is any doubt left, Vigilante’s lyrics are raw, coming directly from his life experiences. Songs like “I’m Outamyn,” where he talks about his life, or “Gimme a Blessing,” which tells the story about a time that he believes the Messiah saved his life, are as real as hip-hop music gets.
“Every time I freestyle or put pen to paper I reflect on my life and everything I’ve been through,” he explains. “Everything you hear me say is a reflection on something in my life.
“Some people listen to rap because of the beats or because of the tempo,” Vigilante continued, “but people listen to my music because of the lyrics. When I’m on stage and I glance out into the crowd and see people finish what I am going to say, I know they are in the crowd feeling my pain. That feeling is indescribable. It’s unbelievable to see people who are ready to shed a tear because they can feel my pain through my delivery.”
Vigilante spent his early years in Gary, Indiana, moving back and forth between that city and Fort Wayne since he was 10 years old. Currently based in Fort Wayne, Vigilante is the face of Outamyn Productions, which features the likes of DJ Dough D, Oddfella and DJ Luney Pooh, among others.
“I surround myself with the people I do because I know they are real and that they got my back. They are as happy as I am to be a part of Outamyn, and now it’s time for us to get respect. I sat back six months to see who was serious about the music, and now that I know who is real and who is not we are going to put the city on our back and take it to the next level. I give a shout out to Nick-Nice, Hometown Hooligans, Unseenhandz, Sub-Surface and J. Knowles ‘cuz they doin’ it right.”
Vigilante has released one album, The Outamyn Mixtape, and is currently working on a follow-up disc, aptly titled The Outamyn Mixtape 2. You’ll also hear some of his verses on the Forts on Fire compilation, a CD assembled by DJ Dough D.
Though Vigilante and Outamyn have no local show dates scheduled, they’re looking forward to the second installment of the Hood First Tour, a show that features the best of the Fort Wayne hip-hop scene. It had its initial run last summer and promises to be even better this year. Until then, check him out Vigilante and his crew at myspace.com/mrvig or myspace.com/outamynproductions.