Trading a “rap sheet” for rap music

Jordan Haywood wants to be remembered for more than the gun he brought to school.

The 26-year-old Jacksonville native made headlines in 1998 for bringing his .380 automatic pistol to Kirby-Smith Middle School in Northeast Jacksonville. Haywood says he brought the gun to settle a dispute with a student who had bullied him throughout the year.

“I don’t know what I would have done had I got to him,” said Haywood, “but I’m damn sure glad they caught me.”

Haywood served seven years for his offense and now says he’s ready to turn his life around. And he plans to do that by trading his rap sheet for rap music.

“Music has always been a huge part of my life,” said Haywood. “Even if my sentence set me back from music it was always there.”

Over the past year, Haywood has been producing synthesizer-heavy club rap and passing out free demo CD’s to any one who will listen.

“He really surprised me,” said McDonald’s co-worker Pamela Lawson. “I have trouble thinking that anyone who works here could have any real talents.”

Haywood works full-time on the night shift at a St. Augustine McDonald’s. Most nights Haywood will work until one a.m. and then record  one to two songs before going to bed at five a.m.

“Honestly,” said long-time girlfriend Tony Santos. “He drives me nuts with that noise. Playing away ’til all hours of the night. But I understand.”

Haywood understands that he has a long road ahead of him if he wants to make it in the music business. But he remains optimistic.

“I just  gotta keep my head up,” Haywood said. “Cuz ain’t anybody else gonna hold it up for me.”

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