FRIENDS, fans and fellow Belmont residents remember late local dancehall artiste Kwinton “K Lion” Thomas as a man filled with love.
The 26-year-old singer died after suffering a heart attack in Miami, Florida in the US on Wednesday night, and there has since been an outpouring of tributes and condolences on social media. He was well-known for hits like Malandros, Safe, One Link and Private Zess.
His manager, Asim Faltine, said Thomas was like a little brother to him. He said he is still in a state of shock.
Speaking with Sunday Newsday on Friday morning, Faltine said he was driving in Siparia when he found out the tragic news.
“I get a call from one of my close friends who would have been working with me from the ground (coming) up. Then I got a call from his (Thomas’) brother and his mom. And it was just…tears. Rel tears. I had to switch off my phone to drive home to Belmont.”
He said Thomas, also from Belmont, wanted to unite communities and always preached love.
“I have been his manager for about a year and a half. It was a wonderful time working with him. I love him like a little brother. He had a conscious message; he loved his community. He could have chosen so many things, but he chose music to preach love. And he loved his craft.”
Belmont East councillor Nicole Young also told Sunday Newsday she believed he had “immense talent.
“I met him. He had a cool confidence…He had a special appeal to the youth and those especially from the area he fiercely defended – Belmont. Belmont grieves as we have lost one of our rising stars.”
Faltine said he is still having a difficult time accepting the news. At times, he finds himself hoping it was a publicity stunt.
“Rest in peace, brother. Your message of love will live on,” he said.
He said the singer had a lot of unreleased music and fans can expect to hear some of these tracks this month.
Councillor for St Barb’s/Chinapoo Joy Benjamin also shared some thoughts on the singer. She said he was the next-door neighbour of one of her closest friends.
“She runs a camp for children and usually has a Christmas event for them as well. She’s a teacher but she also gives back to the community as well. So when she just started off, he used to DJ for her and he was also the Santa Claus for the Christmas events,” she recalled.
She said she knew him for years, even before he became an artiste, through her friend.
“Usually when the community has football events and stuff, he would usually support and take part as well. He was a nice person and really did care about the community.
“He never left out Belmont. He always reminded people this is where he came from. He really wanted to get Belmont on the map.”
Sunday Newsday also spoke to Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, who said while she did not know him personally, she knew all about him because of her teenage children. She said although some people were critical of his lyrics, he touched the hearts of the youth.
“He was real. His music resonated with their realities, leading to his huge popularity. He also promoted a love within communities which are generally thought to be ‘rough’ areas, and that seemed to suggest an understanding that underlying the incidents of violence, and the perceived heartlessness which persons in certain communities are accused of, there is love for each other as obtains everywhere else.”
She said his music spoke his truth, as well as that of others.
“That brought a relief and release which made him a voice for those who could not easily vocalise how their daily struggle made them feel. Such voices, such expressions, as epitomised by K Lion, make many uncomfortable, but it is the circumstances which give rise to their emergence which should make us even more so.”