(Article) Onehunnidt – Too Real To Be Fake

Written by: Cecilia Smith for Houston TREND
As Grammy nominated artist Drake’s track “Miss Me” wanes down, the words “Forever in our hearts. J.J., love you boy,” are the last ones we hear.
For Houston, a city that Drake has entrenched ties with, it is the phrase that resonates the most. A poignant reminder of yet another admired soul gone far too soon. Far more than just the lyrics to a popular song, but an ode to a life cut off in the vigor of manhood. A son, a brother, a father. Gone.

 

For Sean Celestine, known to most as poet/lyricist “Onehunnidt”, it is a pain that he has lived with every day since February 4, 2010. More than just an ode on a track, Johnathan “J.J.” Johnson, was his little brother; murdered in the parking lot of a gas station while changing a flat tire.

 

Onehunnidt recalls on that night, “I lost my mind that day. I have yet to get it back.”

For Onehunnidt, grief is not just a painful emotion that is an inescapable fact of life; it is a force that once consumed him, a force that he has in turn used as fuel to propel his only form of release: his art, his music.

Memories

Born half-brothers, the distinction between “full and half” was unnecessary to the duo, as youths they were closely knit despite their vastly differing upbringings. Though seemingly blessed with what many would perceive as a “nice suburban childhood,” inwardly J.J. would face the same struggle that his older brother did, turmoil and bitter confrontations with their father. For J.J. this would result in the living of dual worlds, eventually leading to rebellion.
“There were sides to J.J. that not everyone knew. Outwardly he was goofy, always had a smile, but the things we grew up with changed both of us. As he got older he rebelled,” says Onehunnidt.

As the two matured life would send them on different paths. Both became fathers. Onehunnidt would go off to college, and then briefly relocate to Arizona, while J.J. would go on to form new bonds and alliances. A talented artist, in 2002 he and Picasso, another accomplished artist, would go on to found the clothing line “Basik Art.” A fresh and creative ensemble of bold artwork emblazoned on fabric.
Quickly making a name for himself within the city, soon J.J. would become “little brother” and friend to many, including Drake himself, whom he met via his friendship with Houston’s legendary Rap-A-Lot camp, who he had known since his youth.
As Drake said in an interview with Complex Magazine, “To me, J.J. was family. When we go to Houston, it’s just a big family and J.J. was around a lot.”
Lighthearted and energetic, by adulthood J.J. had essentially learned to mask whatever may have plagued him from childhood.

“When I moved back to Houston we were more distant, we had different circles, different friends, but he was still just Johnathan to me.” He pauses before adding, “I only wish that I could go back. I keep telling myself if I wasn’t so caught up in my own shit, if I had been there…he would still be here.”

 

 

One Death, Two Souls

Where One Hunnidt was not, on that cold night in February, was at Bourbon Street, a now defunct nightclub on the Richmond strip. While J.J. was out partying with friends, a skirmish would occur within the club, then a gunshot was fired at the ceiling signaling the end of the night. Though it is debatable whether Johnathan Johnson was directly involved or not.

As the patrons exited the club, a crowd milled about its doors and the surrounding sidewalk. Emotions fueled by alcohol, were still running high from what had transpired inside. Anger that easily could have been erased by a night of rest, However Johnathan would not get that chance. After safely leaving the club, as fate would have it, J.J. would strike and blow a tire, quickly turning into the Valero gas station directly across the street from the club. While crouched and in the middle of changing the flat, a car drove up. Shots rang out, two finding their mark within the back of their target.

With a crowd full of people mere feet away, J.J. bled to death.  No attempt made at resuscitation. No help immediately called. Upon the appearance of police, dozens of eyes that potentially saw something swore they saw nothing.
Onehunnidt say indignantly, “You mean to tell me that nobody saw anything? My baby brother bled to death by himself. And no one could even call for help?!”
For Johnathan “J.J.” Johnson, his short journey had ended, with no viable clues as to who had cut short his tracks.

For the rest of us, the world kept turning. For those that knew him best, a portion of theirs ended as well; and for his brother, a part of his soul died with him.
His brother’s death has  haunted Onehunnidt since that day. He would turn to music and poetry as solace from the pain. Resulting in “Legacy of a Legend,” a poignant fusion of prose and hip hop, a somber ode to the memory of J.J. Both thought provoking and profound, placed upon wax, it gave voice to the grief that raged within. It would later go on to be rated #28 on the “Best Albums of 2011” list created by the Houston Press.
For the better part of a year,Onehunnidt would dedicate his existence to mourning the memory of his brother.
Finding Peace

Though the grieving process is unique to each individual, what remains true is that eventually it does end. With sons of his own to raise and a life to live, Onehunnidt would go on to find his own voice as an artist. His career now fueled by his own passion and talent instead of his initial grief.

 

“Where ‘Legacy’ was a tape that to me lacked diversity in its spectrum of material, ‘Keep it 100’ is a polar opposite. I needed Legacy for closure, for emotional redemption. That CD was totally for myself more so than the rest of the world as the last words to someone that I won’t see again in this life.” 

 

Following the release of Legacy, Hunnidt shifted his focus to his evolving career, and 2011 proved to be a fruitful one. Walking the line between hip hop and poetry, between the two crafts Hunnidt performed between 20-30 times last year.

Some notable music performances including:

Trae Day 2011
Sucka Free II
Good People, Good Music
Laugh for a Cure benefit for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
The Montrose Winter Social

His most popular poetry events included:

The D.O.P.E. Poetry Slam
The Bar Magazine SMI Poetry Show
Mid-Month Mixer at Midtown LoungeMoreover, though secondary to his musical aspirations, visual artistry; including painting, drawing, and design, is a talent that Hunnidt still utilizes. 2011 saw him as a featured artist for some of his canvas artwork, as well as his election of the President of the Basik Art clothing line, originally co-founded by JJ. This year will see the release of the line’s first release of prints and embroidered designs.

Though Hunnidt has stepped from under the looming shadow of his brother’s demise and turned into versatile artist, the spirit of J.J. lives on. Through philanthropic deeds, like serving as a guest speaker at the Skinny Guy Clothing Hunger Drive, Hunnidt has ensured that the memory of his brother will endure.

For now, his eye is on the music.  With his latest project, “Keep it 100” set to be released in March, 2012 is poised to showcase his growth and maturity not only as an artist, but as a man.

With features from Doughbeezy, KAB, Basik Music, a few surprise guests, and production by Cy Fyre and Trakksounds, “Keep it 100” it’s shaping up to be his most anticipated release to date.
“Keep it 100” is about me. I’m completely balanced and more level as an artist. I’ve found myself musically and now have a lot more to say. Creatively I’ve found my niche.” Says Onehunnidt
As Onehunnidt will attest, “As cliché as it may sound, I’ve chosen not to portray a gimmick. I represent the minority that doesn’t believe in shortcuts. I came from nothing and have had everything taken away from me, yet I still stand on my own two feet. I tell my story and give my all to all that I do. I keep it 100.”

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2 Comments

  • Jerry Yule
    10 years ago

    Awesome read!

  • None Of Your Business
    8 years ago

    This is a fat lie!!!! Sean and J.J aren’t the founders or elected presidents of basik art!!! My older brother is. He was in the Houston chronicle for it in 07 or 08. This is the truth. I happen to Sean. He isn’t the president of basik art. This article was a lie.

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