A lot has changed for Byron Fairley of Gulfport in two years.
In March 2014, under his then-hip hop persona BBoy, Fairley saw his single “Ball,” which featured Ca$h Out, get released on the soundtrack to the Arnold Schwarzenegger film “Sabotage.”
On Wednesday, Fairley, 23, was arrested in wooded area near Harris Drive in Orange Grove after police say he robbed a BancorpSouth branch with a BB gun.
Fairley, who now goes by the stage name Lotto Band$, recently released a video to his social media pages, including Facebook, that got the attention of Gulfport police.
The video, posted July 16, was filmed in front of a Gulfport police car, and had the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter when it was posted to Fairley’s Twitter account.
It was released in the aftermath of the officer-involved shootings of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge and Philando Castile of Minnesota. Fairley’s video also came in the days after a gunman killed five police officers in Dallas and a day before three officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge.
The video contains lyrics such as, “Let’s go to war; I’m gonna make you b------ feel this.”
‘He wasn’t someone we were looking for’
Gulfport police Sgt. Damon McDaniel, who found and arrested Fairley after the attempted robbery, said the video was brought to the attention of his department before Fairley was arrested.
“He made a rap video with some pretty strong anti-police language,” McDaniel said. “But we didn’t respond to it all — it just so happened when we arrested him for the armed robbery charge it was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the guy that made the video.’ ”
McDaniel said Gulfport police receive a lot of information through social media, but many times it is not credible.
“Someone told us about the video and we didn’t respond because there wasn’t a direct threat being made,” he said. “People can run their mouths and say things like ‘Gulfport PD sucks’ and whatever — he wasn’t someone we were looking for because we never saw him as a credible threat — even though he had lyrics about getting a 50-caliber and he presented himself like a member of the ‘Orange Grove Everything’ gang.”
Daphne Dunning, who said she is a member of Fairley’s family as well as his publicist, said the video has been misconstrued.
“This was something that was meant for entertainment purposes and was never meant to be malicious,” she said. “Byron is not a violent person.”
She said she wouldn’t condone the behavior that led to Fairley’s arrest, but painted a picture of a young man moving through a downward spiral in his life.
“There’s no excuse for his actions, but he’s a good person that is about peace,” she said. “He’s going through some hard times and we think he just snapped and made a really bad decision — this isn’t the kind of person he is because he would do anything to help anyone.”
Starting a dialogue
Biloxi rapper Genesis Be, who now lives in New York, watched Fairley’s video and said she challenges the community to reach out and discuss how people are feeling after the recent episodes of violence in the country.
“When I listened to his lyrics, I heard a frustrated, angry young man who was tired of seeing his brothers and sisters being killed by law enforcement and his solution is to fight back,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that his misguided anger has now perpetuated the negative stigma against young black men as criminals and thugs — our youth need guidance, especially during this time.”
She said she wished someone had reached out to the troubled rapper.
“I think he is very talented as a lyricist and I wish someone in his circle would have reached out to him and discussed his anger and frustrations portrayed in his art, before he allegedly committed that crime,” Genesis Be said.
Genesis Be said the video will mean different things to different people.
“Art is open to interpretation as soon as we make it public, so I cannot say that GPD are wrong in feeling threatened by his message, just as I cannot say it is wrong that some young person was empowered by his passionate message,” she said. “Once you put it out publicly, the reaction is not yours to control.”