The Harding brothers were gangsta rappers who apparently walked the talk.
Two years ago, Seattle residents Ondrell Harding, his little brother Kenneth and their mother, Denika Chatman, ran a record label and were working to establish a music distribution deal with San Francisco-based SMC Recordings.
Today, Chatman is preparing to bury Kenneth, 19, a parolee who allegedly shot himself during a gun battle with Bayview police on July 16. On Tuesday, her eldest son, 21-year-old Ondrell, was arrested near Seattle on suspicion of murder.
The crushed mom had been working to keep her sons off the streets and in the music studio. In his music, Ondrell, whose artist name is D.O.E.Z., covered the typical topics of the gangster rap genre — drugs, guns, sex and street survival.
“I ride around in the track with a Tec and the Mac, with an Uzi on my lap and a thousand stones in my sack,” Ondrell says in his song “Choice Jones.”
The biography on his MySpace page offers a glimpse into the brothers’ troubled upbringing. Ondrell Harding was “full-time gang bangin” by the end of sixth grade, when he lived in Arizona. His “father was constantly in and out of prison,” according to the account.
When he moved back to Arizona in 2003, he went from being homeless to completing two years of high school. But then he set music aside and his priorities were to keep “money in his pocket, weed to smoke and a gun on his waist,” his biography states.
The family’s attorney, Adante Pointer, said the brothers’ art is not necessarily reality, only a reflection of the streets. The actor who played Tony Soprano is not a mobster in real life, he pointed out.
“I think it’s social commentary,” Pointer said.
The day before he died in the Bayview, Kenneth Harding came to the Bay Area to visit family and friends and work on his music, Chatman has said. He planned to attend college in the fall, she said.
But police said Kenneth Harding was violating his parole by leaving Washington state, where he was convicted of attempting to pimp a young girl. He also was wanted for questioning in connection with a fatal shooting in South Seattle on July 13, they said.
Meanwhile, Ondrell Harding is accused of beating to death 51-year-old Anthony Matthews early Saturday.