(June 29th, 2020 – Los Angeles, CA) Over the weekend, close friends and family gathered to honor the life of Charles Washington, professionally known as Mr. Solo, the founder of Grammy, Dove and Stellar Award-nominated Gospel hip hop group, the Gospel Gangstaz. The memorial for him was held at Abundant Living Family Church High Desert in Hesperia, CA on June 27, 2020. Washington unexpectedly passed away on May 22, 2020.
Mr. Solo was known for his unique combination of musical talent and Christian lifestyle. As a former gang member who was born in New Orleans but grew up in South Central Los Angeles, Mr. Solo came to faith after nearly dying in a gang-related shooting. In 1993, Mr. Solo founded the Gospel Gangstaz and revolutionized Gospel music with their gritty, yet inspirational brand of hip hop. Having previously spent time rapping about darker, worldly subjects, he found new motivation to use his skills to change the lives of others that could relate to his previous lifestyle.
In a previous interview, Mr. Solo explained his mission of his music, “The Gospel Gangstaz stand in a position to help because we have seen how the Gospel of Christ is real. Our lives were changed from selling crack, drive-by shootings, car-jacking and illicit sex, to a life of peace, joy and happiness because of Christ. We want to go back to the hood and let our light shine.”
In 1994, his group released their debut album, Gang Affiliated followed by Do or Die. Their next album, I Can See Clearly Now, marked their first release with record label B-Rite in 1999. The album received a Grammy nomination in the Best Rock Gospel Album category and a Dove Award nomination for best Rap/Hip Hop/Dance Album. I Can See Clearly landed on three Billboard charts, #3 on the Top Gospel Albums, #11 on the Top Christian Albums, and #25 on the Top Heatseekers. Other releases from the group include All Mixed UP ()2000), The Exodus (2002), The Flood (2006), and Street Disciples (2011).
Even though Mr. Solo gained a larger platform because of his music and artistic innovation, he was mostly known as a family man. He is survived by his wife of 14 years, Kumiko Ohigashi, seven children, sons Charles Washington (12), Caleb Washington (7), daughters: Krystal Washington (27), Kymani Washington (24), Coniah Washington (19), Kioko Washington (13), Suki Washington (8), two step-children, James Ohigashi (18), Asia Ohigashi (16), mother: Rosemary Washington, and three sisters: Shawanda Cheatham, Da Shon Davis, and Cynthia Carter.
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