Marine rapper and photographer reflects on service

Anthony Cave, News21

Marine Sergeant Raymond Lott rapped about war when his camera lens wasn’t focused on battlefields.

Lott is a Marine photographer who was deployed in Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2008. He is now finishing his service in New Orleans.

The 30-year-old California native often reflects on his time overseas. But he unleashes the day’s “stresses” in a studio, rapping about his experiences.

In “Here Now,” Lott raps that he joined the military because he realized that “a little boy needed change in his life.”

When he wasn’t rapping, Lott was photographing – Iraqi women, firefights, Marines bandaging civilians and carrying out military duties. But Lott’s raps soothed him.

Marine photographer Raymond Lott received a 2007 Thomas Jefferson media award for this picture of an Iraqi woman. The awards are presented by the Department of Defense. (Courtesy of Raymond Lott)

Marine photographer Raymond Lott received a 2007 Thomas Jefferson media award for this picture of an Iraqi woman. The awards are presented by the Department of Defense. (Courtesy of Raymond Lott)

“It’s reflective therapy. You need to get out these emotions in any form; I use therapy through music,” said the man whose rap name is RSonic.

Lott has uploaded more than 50 videos on YouTube. He has more than 2,400 subscribers and his most popular video has almost half a million YouTube views.

“I’m helping people,” he said of his raps. “It helps them see the world in a different way.”

His photography also offers a worldview. Lott won a Thomas Jefferson media award presented by the Department of Defense in 2007 for his photo of an Iraqi woman.

What We’re Reading: Week 9

By Chad Garland, News21

What We’re Reading, Week 9:

Photo Exhibit Spanning Decades Reveals Our Collective War Story (Kainaz Amaria, 7/15, NPR) The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington exhibit “War/Photography,” consists of 309 photographs from 25 nationalities with conflicts that span 165 years. “It’s organized in the order of war,” said Anne Tucker, curator of photography for the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Her team spent 10 years scanning more than 1 million photographs from more than 17 countries to come up with a different approach to presenting the images of war, even some images not typically associated with war.

Shooting the messengers (Ed Caesar, 7/9, GQ Magazine, UK edition) A few high profile cases of war correspondents killed in the course of duty underscores the danger of reporting in war zones, Ed Caesar said. As deaths and kidnappings mount – 2012 was among the worst years for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists – Caesar wonders what has changed to make journalists increasingly vulnerable to, if not targets of, the violence they cover.

Woman’s work (Francesca Borri, 7/1, Columbia Journalism Review) “The only story to tell in war is how to live without fear,” writes Francesca Borri, an Italian freelancer working in Syria. Contrary to the romantic notions of freelance journalists as free, Borri said they are trapped at the frontline, where the competition to report on “the blood, the bang-bang” is cutthroat.

For Veterans, a Fight for College Credit (Jody Serrano, 7/17, The Texas Tribune) A pilot program that helps veterans in Texas get college credit for their military experience won’t be made permanent; it failed to reach the full House during this year’s legislative session, but the Texas Workforce Commission will be able to expand the program thanks to federal grants. On average, veterans have received about a year of credits based on military experience, allowing them to complete their degree and enter the workforce more quickly. The program sponsor might re-file to make it permanent in 2015.

How the Pentagon’s payroll quagmire traps soldiers (Scot J. Paltrow and Kelly Carr, 7/2, Reuters) The Defense Finance and Accounting Service, or DFAS, a Pentagon agency responsible for accurately paying America’s 2.7 million active-duty and reserve service members, has a problem – costly failures. A variety of factors, from technology decades out of date, to systems that can’t communicate and military leaders who shirk responsibilities, all contribute to errors that harm some military personnel, while benefiting others.