NEW ORLEANS – Friends and family are reacting to the death of a local rapper Saturday night.
Michael Patterson, also known as rapper Mista Mean was a friend and mentor to 27-year-old Desmone Jerome, known as BTY Young'N.
"Just to see a young guy that I had big plans for that I thought was about to make a big difference in his life and in his family's life, to be laying down and I knew he was dead, it was like I was just numb," said Patterson.
Patterson came to the scene Saturday night on Airline Highway where Jerome was shot to death, remembering the young man he knew before rap came along. From an early age, Patterson said Jerome had the “it” factor after a friend introduced them.
"So he started rapping for me and I was like, ‘Wow.’ He was just raw talent rapping nonstop, like bars after bars," he explained.
Patterson said Jerome was able to paint vivid portraits of life.
"He talked about the things that went on in our community,” Petterson recalled. “So we had a thing called Realty Check. I used to bring Youngn' out to speak to kids, and he'd tell the kids of how he got shot five times."
Part of growing up in the areas he rapped about also meant brushes with the law. However, Patterson said about two years ago Jerome converted to Islam while in prison. When Jerome got out, he says it was like he had a new drive.
"I was like, ‘You’re about to get out of here,’ especially when the Cash Money offer came on the table and things of that sort. ‘Youngn' this is your shot, this is the opportunity,’" Patterson said.
That rise was clipped when Jerome was shot to death.
"I think some people just get kind of jealous that they see somebody is about to actually make it," Patterson said.
Patterson thinks Jerome was targeted while he was waiting to secure a deposit for a future performance.
"You can't make a deposit for a show, and then all of a sudden and some guys just roll up on him,” Patterson said. “I'm quite sure they knew to do what they did."
Fans and friends like Patterson’s daughter Amari said the community will truly miss an artist like Jerome.
"One thing about him, he wasn't selfish,” she said. “He wasn't one of those, ‘I'm coming up, I'm going to forget the people.’ He was willing to give back to his people in New Orleans.”
Friends added Jerome had just welcomed a baby girl earlier this year.
Police have not arrested anyone in connection to his death.
If anyone has information that can help investigators, you’re asked to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.