By by Master Sgt. Donald Sparks, 2ID PAO NCOICJune 9, 2008
During his first tour with the 2nd Infantry Division from 1997-1998, then-Pfc. Jason Mitchell was a regular in the "Ville." Labeling himself as a knucklehead back in the early days of his Army career, he constantly sought and found trouble.
"I used to get into fights, drink excessively, and miss curfew," Mitchell said, now wearing the rank of chief warrant officer. "Some of the same incidents that I see our young troops doing today reminds me of the same stuff that I got into - but now I want to do my part of keeping them out of trouble."
"All of these incidents bring a negative impact on the mission and those Soldier's units," he added.
Mitchell, a gospel hip hop artist, sponsored a Kingdom Fest Hip Hop event as an alternative to Soldiers going to the "Ville." It was held at the Camp Casey Digital Conference Center May 10. He personally invited other gospel Hip Hop artists and poets on the peninsula to participate in the event, provided free barbecue and gave $200 out of his own pocket in a raffle.
"Music is a huge influence in our world and when you hear music with cursing and negative messages, the same message will eventually come out of you," Mitchell said.
Currently assigned as a logistics management officer with the 210th Fires Brigade, Mitchell told the audience that he didn't always rap with a positive message. The 31-year-old native of Augusta, Ga., used to open up for famous Hip Hop acts such as OutKast, Goodie Mob and Pastor Troy, and he lived the wild and violent lifestyle that came with it.
After he survived a near-death drive-by shooting attempt on the day his child was born, Mitchell's wife, Miranda, made him go to church to be thankful for still living. This is when, he said, he began to slowly transition from his former lifestyle and realized that he could perform his love of rapping while delivering a spiritual message through beats and lyrics.
Since 2005, Mitchell has taken his style of rap all over the country to thousands of people. He has been nominated for a Stellar Award, the premier gospel event that recognizes and honors gospel, and last year made 150 performances on stage.
Despite all the success he's had, he mentioned that, "it doesn't mean anything if I can't help other people who were once in my position."
"This event should help Soldiers learn more about the positive side of rap/Hip Hop and see that you can still have fun without all the negativity, deglamorizing women, drinking and fighting," Mitchell said.
Staff Sgt. Leon Spikes, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, was invited by a friend to come to the event and was surprised by what he heard.
"I'm glad that I came to check this out," Spikes said. "The music had the same Hip Hop style, but with a positive message. It shows that you can still dance, fellowship and have a good time."
Mitchell plans to host another Kingdom Fest later in the summer.
"We hope this event will change a Soldier's life and in turn, spread to other Soldiers, which will have a better impact and readiness for our units across Area 1," he said.