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Talented Thomases Bring Upbeat Rap to Students

Feb. 6, 2008 — It’s been nearly a decade since Theron and Timothy Thomas have walked the halls of Charlotte Amalie High School as students. On the same stage where they performed talent competitions as students, the brothers addressed more than 200 students Friday at their alma mater about their ups and downs in the hip-hop music industry as the group R. City.
"When we talk to them, we try our best to say as many positive things as we can," Timothy Thomas said. "I know being a kid growing up in the Virgin Islands, coming from the projects, living in a single parent household, it can be real, real hard. So I hope the stuff we tell them can guide them in a positive direction."
Since graduating CAHS in 1999 and 2000, St. Thomas natives Theron, 26, and Timothy, 25, have moved from the projects at Oswald Harris Court to Atlanta, where they eventually signed with Grammy Award nominee Akon’s Konvict Music label in 2006.
R. City’s recent single "Losin’ It" off their debut album "Wake The Neighbors," expected to be out this year, hit the Billboard charts in September 2008, but it’s their songwriting skills that have brought credibility among some of hip-hop's most popular names such as Akon, Janet Jackson, and Usher.
Tabari Davis, a junior at CAHS and a vocalist who was preparing to sing for his peers after the forum, said he was excited about R. City’s appearance.
"They’re actually kind of like role models for me because they're from here," he said. "I’d like to make it to that level also one day. So I look up to them in that sense."
Their presence at the forum sparked some old memories from their former CAHS teachers.
"Theron was in my class and he had a drive from when he was small," said Francis Callwood, CAHS choral teacher. "It’s not like he walked out and became big, you know?"
Callwood said he hopes that "the students take some serious message out of what they have to say, because I know those guys are serious when it comes to giving back."
Ruth Slaughter, CAHS cosmetology teacher, recalled a story about the brothers who would frequent her classroom because she had primarily female students.
One day, with a camera already set-up and filming for a promotional video on the vocational school, the Thomas brothers unexpectedly came to her room. That’s when she asked them to make up a song.
"I just gave them topics to talk about like hair relaxer, permanent waves, sculptured nails," she said.
"And they wrote it. Just like that. Within 10 minutes they had a song in my class that incorporated everything with a rap. They’re fantastic."
The forum was co-sponsored by the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, and moderated by WVJZ 105 Jams disc jockey Anthony "Tony T" Peets. After R. City’s address at CAHS they continued on to Ivanna Eudora Kean High School Auditorium to share their message.
"Definitely what I want the kids to take away from today is, believe in yourself, because, you know, if me and my brother didn’t believe in ourselves then we wouldn’t be here. It starts with you and nine times out of 10, people stop themselves," said Theron Thomas after the performance.
R. City will be performing as opening act for Mario Saturday night at the Reichhold Center for the Arts. Tickets are $42, $32, and $22 and are available at Modern Music, Urban Threadz, V.I. Bridal and Tuxedo, Island Video (Nisky), Home Again, Essentric Shoe Boutique, UVI Bookstore and the Reichhold Center box office at (340) 693-1159.
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