He was a rapper trying to stop violence in Baltimore. Tyriece Travon Watson, better known as Lor Scoota, had just finished hosting a charity basketball game. The fliers advertising the event had said, “Pray for peace in these streets.” Music artists and important faces from around the city had come together to prove they could get along.
Lor Scoota got in his car and left the arena. Bringing peace to Baltimore was a message he had been trying to spread — on panels, in classrooms and in his music.
“How I’m supposed to live with all this death in my sight?” the 23-year-old had once sung.
Lor Scoota was about a mile away from the arena when he was shot and killed.
Baltimore police said the rapper was driving east at 6:56 p.m. Saturday when an unknown black male wearing a white bandanna stepped into the street and opened fire into Lor Scoota’s car. He was transported to an area hospital, but was pronounced dead shortly after. Homicide detectives are investigating the shooting as a targeted attack.
“We have to be tired of this. Can #Scoota be a wake up call for us?” tweeted police spokesman T.J. Smith. “He entertained many, now gone, just like that. We are better than this.”
That was the call Lor Scoota had just sent out at the Morgan State University field house.
“Supposedly people think all the rappers don’t like each other, so we brought everyone together,” said Tadoe, another artist who played in the game. “It was about having fun, showing that there was a smile on everybody’s face.”
Lor Scoota was one of the city’s most beloved hometown rappers. His 2014 song “Bird Flu” inspired dozens of YouTube videos of Baltimoreans doing the “Bird Flu dance.” When the Baltimore Orioles made it to the playoffs, Lor Scoota changed the song’s lyrics for the radio: “Talkin’ ’bout that orange and black / I got a bird on my hat / Won the Series in ’83, I think it’s time to go back.”
A few months later, Lor Scoota’s voice was on the radio again — this time, to promote non-violence in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray. According to Baltimore’s City Paper, he recorded a series of PSAs “expressing understanding for those that were angry but also encouraging peace.” Soon after, he spoke to Baltimore youth on a panel organized by Councilman Nick Mosby, the husband of Marilyn Mosby. She is the state’s attorney for Baltimore who charged the six police officers who arrested Freddie Gray just before his death.
Last month, Lor Scoota visited an elementary school to read to kids about Martin Luther King Jr.
“I never had my rapper or local rappers do that for me growing up,” he wrote on Instagram. “Just wanted to give the kids that experience and a memory.”
He frequently tagged his posts #ScootaUpNext. He was a rising star — and that’s likely why he was targeted, Tadeo said.
“In Baltimore city, once you’re doing good, you’re a target. Nobody wants to see you doing better than they are doing,” he said. “You try to make it to the top, they’re pulling you down so you still here. That’s why they say once you do your thing, leave.”
Lor Scoota might have been trying to do just that. City Paper reported he had recently traveled to New York and Los Angeles, likely for meetings with music labels. Now, his name is being mentioned by rap stars like Meek Mill, but only in memory.
“Damn #lorscoota,” Meek Mill wrote on Instagram. “I seen so many young n—-s fall victim Tryna make it out #restup.”