MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – For 24-year-old Jaquawn Gaston, a native of Milwaukee, rap music is more than just a beat and some rhyme.
“My music is my everything,” says Gaston. “Whenever I do my music, I just feel free; like I don’t feel like I’m in a wheelchair or like I’m disabled.”
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Gaston is confined to a wheelchair. Psychologically, nothing can hold him back.
“I soon accepted that this was my condition,” Gaston said. “I have to make the best of what I have.”
In the bedroom of his Milwaukee apartment, Gaston, who is better known in the music industry as Rap J, will find a beat he likes and start piecing the lines together.
“If you have the mindset that you’re going to be really great at something, then you can be great,” says Gaston. “I’m just someone who has a positive mindset to always get through whatever challenges come up and to prove people wrong about me.”
His hours of dedication to music, which he practiced for 18 years, led to the release of two albums and more than a dozen songs. His music serves as an outlet for a young man who refuses to let the world win, even with his back against the wall.
“I would love to give credit to my mother. She recently passed away,” Gaston said. “My mother and my grandmother. Both mean a lot to me, and they raised me a lot with the mindset that the world is going to keep moving regardless, so you have to give your best and whatever whatever you put your mind to is possible.”
The loss of her mother, Tracy, proved to be a difficult time for Gaston. He felt lost and trapped. However, one thing remains constant: his love for rap.
“Losing my mother was and still is one of the hardest, if not the most difficult, challenges I have had to overcome,” Gaston said. “Losing my mom was like the whole inspiration behind my latest album. I just played the beats and listened to them, and that helped me move on and get through it.”
Along with his musical support, Gaston also has the help of close friends, including his carer, Wanda Webb.
Webb said: “It was magical watching him grow from a young age into a young adult. “Just watch his determination; he never gives up.”
Like Gaston, Webb has experienced the personal tragedy of losing his mother and son. She said that caring for Gaston was as much help for her as it was for him.
“Meeting him gave me a lot of strength. It got me through a lot of the pain I was going through because I still had someone to take care of,” Webb explained. “Someone young, someone still to inspire, someone looking for me every day, someone who relies on me every day. I still find that in him when I come here every day.”
Five and a half years later, Webb continues to act as not only Gaston’s caretaker but also J Raps’ biggest cheerleader, continuing to inspire him to keep making music and achieve his dreams one day. performed in front of a live crowd.
“He’s very talented and he’s attached to his talent and his dreams, and that’s what he wants to be successful in,” Webb said. “I think he’s going, I think he’s going to go very far with it. I think he’s going to meet a lot of my expectations; I really do.”
It’s a dream Gaston is determined to achieve, no matter what curves life throws at him, including the recent breakdown of his electric car, forcing him to stay in his apartment. me. However, it did not bother him.
“When you’re younger and the chair breaks, it’s like the end of the world. At my age now, I understand that chairs break,” Gaston said. “Everything man-made falls apart. I know I can’t be broken because if I break, nothing good will come out of anything.”
It’s an inspiring attitude he hopes to share with the world, one song at a time.
“I just want to show the world, ‘Hey, I’m here and I’m never giving up. I’m never giving up.’ If I can do it, you can too and we can all achieve our dreams together,” Gaston said. “It’s my biggest dream, to spread that message to the world.”
A GoFundMe has been set up by friends of Jaquawn Gaston to provide him with a new electric wheelchair. Those interested in donating can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/jaquawn-wheelchair-fund?+share-sheet&&