Local Rapper Fights Homelessness With Music

A local hip-hop artist who is known for helping the homeless find their voice through music is back with another project - trying to get them off the streets. 

Jonathan Brathwaite is laying a new foundation and says he loves working at his new construction job. Robert Peterson is dishing out apple crisp and sweet smiles.

"I’m actually doing something so I’m not just sitting around," Peterson said at his new job as a cook.

Just a few months ago, both men were homeless. Now they're thriving. That journey, along with their voices, was captured in a hit single called "Help the Homeless."

NBC Boston was there in August when local artist Derek Cummings invited them into the recording studio.

Cummings goes by "Big D" on stage and connected the guys to his network, helping Brathwaite and Peterson find housing and new jobs.

"Sometimes you need that push," said Cummings.

Now, he’s taking the project to another level. He’s invited the guys back to star in the music video, all shot with a Hollywood crew, actors and homeless people.

Cummings is trying to bring more attention to this ongoing problem in one of the wealthiest cities in America: Boston.

So far, he’s donated all the money made from the single to area shelters like the Pine Street Inn, but believes his hometown could be doing more, especially this holiday season. Cummings says it’s so easy to forget or ignore, the obvious need.

"It's sad," said Cummings.

While Brathwaite and Peterson took advantage of the opportunities to leave the streets, there were two other men in the recording studio this past summer who couldn’t be part of the new project.

Michael Clark was recently sent to prison and Cummings' friendship with Carmello Cotto ended. Cummings says he doesn't want to talk about it, and behind all the glitz and glamour, these are the realities of working with the homeless. It’s a complicated journey without a perfect outcome, but Cummings says this is his calling. The music and the people he helps along the way are reasons enough stay on this mission.

Big D’s hit single “Help the Homeless” can be downloaded on most online stores. The music video will launch next year. 

Contact Us