Last night, I found out that an old friend has passed away. Shortly thereafter I found out it was suicide. My heart pounded and I couldn’t fathom this news. I didn’t sleep much, instead I went through my whole photo archive to pull any picture I had of him. As a photographer, through the viewfinder I learned how-and-what to remember. He was someone I wanted and others to remember.
In 2008, when I first met Andrew at UW-Madison, I immediately liked him. I think many people do, especially with that infectious smile and laughter he has. Quickly, I developed a crush on him. I’m sure many people had that too.
My one and only date with him–we went to see a concert that was happening on campus. The musical group was Doomtree. He loved Doomtree, especially Dessa. Andrew loved music, he was a writer and a rapper. Andrew and I both learned after that date that we were more awesome being friends, and friends we stayed.
Andrew did not discriminate, he was friendly with everyone. Everyone who knew Andrew, knew he was destined for greatness. No Doubt. Now you can see his Facebook blowing up with love. I think many of us are confused.
Andrew was part of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Art Learning Community at Uw-Madison. First Wave is a cutting-edge multicultural artistic program that offers competitive undergraduate scholarship recipients the opportunity to live, study and create together in a close-knit, dynamic campus community. Administered by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI), the First Wave Learning Community is the first university program in the country centered on urban arts, spoken word and hip-hop culture.
I thought First Wave was so cool. Correction “is” cool. Many Posse scholars befriended First Wave scholars. Andrew basically became an honorary Posse Plus Retreat member. What is a Posse Plus Retreat? Every year, The Posse Foundation and Posse Scholars facilitate an annual weekend-long Posse Plus Retreat attended by members of the larger student body, faculty and administration, with the goal of discussing an important campus issue identified by Posse Scholars. His presence was needed and appreciated.
“You cant blame the seed for what the forest taught em.” is a line from the song “Slow Burn” by Doomtree. During the concert, when this song came on, I remember Andrew went wild. He loved that song. Now going over the lyrics, I’m finding so much of him in the song.
Andrew was supportive of my photography and took my advice seriously. I remember when he gave me a his first E.P. I didn’t like the cover photo, it had a bad crop job. I told him it was cutting right across his beautiful smile. He pondered the picture for a second, then looked at me and said, “You’re right!”
I lost touch with Andrew over the last four years. I had no idea what he was doing or how he was feeling. I wish I knew more.
You can hear some of his latest music here.