By Jonathan Spruill aka Track Lacer Special to Published Dec 05, 2007 at 4:32 PM

On Oct. 19, 2007, the world mourned the tragic loss of R&B singer "La La" Brown. That same day, however, Milwaukee mourned the tragic loss of 21-year-old Yolanda Brown. You see, the world lost a gifted singer, beautiful model and protégé of R&B artist Lyfe Jennings.

But we, as fellow Milwaukeeans and as a community, lost a daughter, a sister and a mother to a young child. You went to Jackie Robinson Middle School with her. You graduated from Milwaukee High School of the Arts with her. You went to church with her. You went shopping with her. You jumped up and down in your living room when you realized her music video with Jennings was receiving nationwide exposure.

So, although there is still tremendous pain associated with her loss, I would like to share three important points to assist with the healing process.

First, Yolanda Brown was able to share her gift of song on a nationwide level. It was her dream to sing, and she accomplished more in her 21 years than many are able to do in their own lifetimes. Most Americans, and certainly many African-Americans, work jobs just to "pay the rent." Paychecks come from doing what you have to do. How many of us can actually say they do something for a living that we have a passion for?

But true happiness comes from doing what you love. We should be content that she was able to do so. I first met Yolanda when she was 12 years old. I befriended her older sister, and once she found out I was a local hip-hop artist, Yolanda had hundreds of questions every time I visited. She sang for me. She shared song concepts with me. I remember thinking how advanced her thought process was towards music, despite being so young. I now realize just how far youthful enthusiasm can take a person.

Second, the song Yolanda will be remembered for speaks directly to the embarrassing, destructive plague of teenage pregnancy. "Hold on to your innocence/Use your common sense" is what she sang in her cameo appearance on Lyfe Jennings' "S.E.X." How ironic, in an age where songs like R. Kelly's "Feeling On Yo Booty" get regular rotation on our radio dial, that a young lady from a city with the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country would sing about abstinence?

I believe that this positive song may have inspired the brilliant songstress and Def Jam recording artist Chrisette Michelle to write her current hit, "If I Had My Way," in which she stands firm to her choice to remain celibate despite her attraction to a male friend. Although we lost Yolanda's physical presence on earth, the song she will be remembered for leaves solid footprints in the concrete for teenage girls in Milwaukee.

Finally, if anything can be learned from the loss of Yolanda Brown, it would have to be that the City of Milwaukee, and Black Milwaukee in particular, is at a point of no return. If we continue to take central city violence lightly, there will be a mass exodus from the city we once loved and felt safe in.

At this point, I could not recommend that anyone who possesses an exceptional talent to remain living in the central city. The desperation, poverty and envy of our neighborhoods make individuals with potential to rise about the aforementioned undeserving targets.

We are the city where Glen 'Big Dog' Robinson, formerly of the Milwaukee Bucks, could not enjoy a drink at Junior's Bar & Grill without someone pointing a gun in his face. We are a city where Green Bay Packers defensive player Cledtius Hunt cannot leave a soul food restaurant without being robbed at gunpoint.

Milwaukee, the time is now to stand up. Is this the community you want to grow old in? Is this the community you want to raise your children in? If the answer is a resounding "no!", it is time to come together for solutions.


Jonathan Spruill aka Track Lacer Special to
Track Lacer is a local hip-hip artist and graduate of UW-Milwaukee.