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Honoring the Life and Legacy of Lashawn Daniels

Tribute from Jet Daniels, Tahshon Daniels, Omarr K. Rambert, EJ Gains, Brandon Caddell, Eric Dawkins, Joe Thomas, and April Daniels.

Every generation has that once-in-a-lifetime leader. The kind of professional that everyone knows their name and their work. If that individual’s name isn’t synonymous with their work, you would be hard pressed to find anyone that didn’t know something about their body of work. Lashawn “Big Shiz” Daniels was that once-in-a-lifetime industry leader.  

When you talk about honoring Men of God, in particular within entertainment, who doesn’t know the work that precedes his name? Lashawn’s pen was responsible for what has come to be known as the soundtrack of a generation. Responsible for multi-platinum songs like: “You Rock My World” by Michael Jackson, “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica, and “If You had My Love” by Jennifer Lopez, and the list goes on and on. More importantly than knowing the work that precedes Lashawn’s name, knowing Who was responsible for all of us knowing his name was something Lashawn was never remiss in sharing, at any time and on any platform. 

His love for Jesus, his wife, his children and those close to him was a part of the fabric that made Lashawn who he was. Everyone who knew him felt like he was their best friend. When in his presence, at least two things were always going to be present… laughter and Jesus! 

We are grateful to honor the life and legacy of Lashawn “Big Shiz” Daniels, through the words of his wife April, his son’s Jett, Tahshon, and Omarr and a few close friends who became family, Brandon Caddell, EJ Gaines, and Eric Dawson.

From Jet Daniels

Every day is a constant struggle, knowing I’ll never see my dad walk through the doors of our home again. Although I am left with so many memories made with him, it never feels like enough. Instead, I tend to find myself under this cloud of regret—feeling like I should’ve taken advantage of the time God gave me to spend with him.

Yet, the road to overcoming my dad’s passing has gradually gotten easier to navigate. You see, I would constantly run away from the thought of memories we shared because I was very afraid of showcasing my emotions, especially around my mother. But as time passed, my mom became extremely vocal about me allowing my emotions to show, which has helped me with my healing process. 

Along with treasuring the great memories, I am able to find joy when I do reflect. One of the memories that I think about often is recording “Legacy” with my dad. This song is very special to me, considering it was the last thing we worked on together. It reminds me that I have come a long way without him, and I know that he’s proud. Reminiscing about the times I made songs with my dad is truly a happy place for me. He left me and my brothers with so much of his wisdom, along with a blueprint on life and how to be a man. 

My father always instilled the best in us and was constantly a representation of what being a Christian man was like. He never hesitated when it came to displaying his faith around others because he loved being a vessel for God’s work and taught us to take pride in our faith. My father always had this saying: “You can make mistakes but let them be calculated mistakes.” He could not stress this enough when talking to me and my two brothers as he knew our potential. And although I can make careless mistakes from time to time, I will always hear his voice whispering in the back of my head, repeating that line. 

I know God didn’t take my dad without knowing we would be able to handle it afterward. My dad left us a guide on how to be a man that I can be proud of when I look into the mirror, and it’s our job to carry out his legacy while celebrating his life, not just on Father’s Day, but every day that I have the opportunity to be the young man he raised me to be. 

I love you Dad

From Tahshon Daniels

I remember being a little kid and wanting to literally be my dad when I grew up. It didn’t matter that I was too young to even know what his profession was. In my mind, I didn’t care what he did. He could’ve been a teacher, a doctor, or a lawyer, and I still one thousand percent would be following in his footsteps. 

It didn’t take long for me to realize that some kids weren’t as blessed to have a dad as cool as mine. When I finally did begin to understand what he did, I made sure everyone knew exactly what songs my dad wrote. I was a proud kid. It was, and always is, such an unexplainable feeling walking into a store and hearing a song he wrote playing over the speakers or walking into class and hearing a group of people randomly singing a song he wrote. 

I was in awe of more than just his job though. It was HIM. He would never miss a moment to let me know how much he loved me and wanted me to WIN. Even times where he was mad or disappointed with me, I never had a doubt that it was all out of love. All that love I received from him from the moment I was born made room for me to become a loving adult. Now that I’m married and have a family of my own, I find myself trying to mimic little things he did for us. That honestly won’t ever stop. He’s the main reason for nearly all of my interests today. The songs I love, the cars I love, the way that I wear clothes, even down to the career path I’ve chosen. I’m beyond proud to be a little remix of Lashawn Daniels.

From Omarr K. Rambert

Father, 

Over the past one-and-a-half years, I have seen many words used to describe your time on this earth: creative, remarkable, amazing, impactful. A talented man with an ingenious sense of purpose, you created the songs that would come to define an entire generation with the simple stroke of your pen. Yet somehow that success, while great, does not measure up to your greatest contribution to this world—the role you played as a father. 

I am an African American male in America, and I do not believe that I would fully know what that means without your presence. At a young age, a look in the mirror would be met by a Black boy’s reflection, but at which point does a child grow aware of the burden and implications that come pre-packaged with his Blackness? Possessing Black masculinity, you taught me at an early age that this reality would mean navigating our world in a particular way—being strong, but not too strong to the point that my existence is threatening; and being intentional about how I interact with each person I come in contact with. In fact, it is this intentionality that characterized you as a father. You selected every word, every lesson, and every act of kindness with the foresight that it would prepare me for a time when you were no longer a call away and my existence is what people would remember you by. That time arrived way too soon. 

Since you have been gone, it seems as if the world has focused on the words you wrote to shape the music industry; yet your greatest accomplishment, above all else, is the wisdom you left behind to guide the three men that remain in your absence. You taught me that being a father means more than simply bearing your last name, highlighting the importance of raising one’s child to be better than oneself, all in an effort to emphasize the importance of selflessness and not selfishness. You took a woman with a past and a five-year-old boy infatuated with drawing dragons and blended them with a son of your own. You created a family that would produce your youngest son, who is arguably LaShawn Daniels reincarnate. The void left in your absence is only so large because of the space you occupied in every room. You were the embodiment of protection, power, humility, sacrifice, and strength—the quintessential role-model that put God first in his every breath and provided a standard of what it means to be a man, encapsulating love, passion, and integrity. Because of you, I am able to view life with a particular clarity that allows me to be comfortable in my own skin. Through this lens I am able to better understand myself, others, and the complexity of the human condition. That was your greatest gift to me. 

Every moment we shared was a match used to one day light the torch that would be passed from father to sons. While everything seemed to stop on September 3, 2020, I believe—and am certain that you do, too—that is when the world started watching. What will the Daniels boys do next? 

My answer? I will make you proud. 

Yours truly, 

Your legacy. 

From EJ Gaines

It was a late Sunday night in North Hollywood, and if anyone else’s name had been mentioned, I would’ve headed back to my hotel. But this was Lashawn Daniels I was about to meet. Sleep could wait, I watched him create music as if it were already mapped out and he was simply following instructions. Meanwhile, he joked and made each of us feel like his best friend.

A year later, through divinely-orchestrated events, Lashawn offered to produce my wife’s debut album. But it became immediately apparent that our collective connection was about more than music; we blinked and we were all family. He and his wife became Uncle Shiz and Auntie April to our sons, and the same for us and their sons. For years, we got together to talk and eat, laugh and argue. Music became a by-product of relationships that God set up for us before time began. We confided in each other and talked about the things that matter most—Our marriages, our kids, and our legacies. More than anything, though, we talked about Jesus.

It’s amazing how much one life can change you, especially when that life is God-sent. Now, I look for those people. I lean into those relationships, knowing that even if they pause briefly on earth, they will ripple and resume in eternity.

From Brandon Caddell

I’ve always known that I wanted to be a father, What I didn’t know was how important it would be to have a village of other fathers for support. As Father’s Day approaches this year, I’ve been reflecting on my village, and my friend Lashawn “Big Shiz” Daniels.

As a Black father of sons in a blended family, there are challenges that no one taught me how to navigate. Lashawn was always there to help me navigate through the challenges, be my sounding board and my voice of reason when I needed that the most. He had this way of listening and sharing advice that was genuine, sincere and funny. I’ll always cherish our long work days together where creatively we made history, family, and friendship come alive.

If true friends are hard to find, the friends that become family are once in a lifetime. I am forever grateful for my once in a lifetime brother.

From Eric Dawkins

There are so many stories I could tell of our musical adventures, but I’d rather speak on the imprint he left on me. The almost 30 years of true friendship that I shared with Lashawn were as close to perfect as they come. We didn’t talk every day, but we didn’t have to.

He always remixed my name; one of my favorites was “E Double Dankinstien.” I knew he loved me, and he know I loved him. We shared a love for cars to the point I could send him pictures of my new whips before anybody!

I miss him, but I still feel him in a lil bit of all the music that I do because, at some point during the process, I ask myself, “What would ‘Shiz’ do right here? He shows up in my shuffle playlist from time to time to say “what’s up?” and I smile. I will always remember him as my older brother.

From Joe Thomas

It’s hard to put into words what Lashawn “Shiz” Daniels meant to me. He was the most genuine person I’ve ever known and a true friend. 

He and I sang and basically grew up together in Newark, New Jersey, at church. He was around 14 and I was around 19. He was my right hand man who went everywhere with me while I was just getting started in the music industry. I showed him the way into the industry, but he already knew that was his calling. 

I remember his first publishing check in the music industry. I won’t say how much it was, but it was 10 times more than my first publishing check. I was so proud of him and wanted to make sure he protected his money and got a good accountant. We were always close and respected each other. There was always something very special in how he respected and appreciated me and my work ethic. Maybe I was the example in music of where he wanted to be, but he was the example spiritually of who I wanted to be. A beautiful soul full of inspiration. He was a minister to my soul. God fearing and compassionate and a man who loved his family and friends. 

God knew what He was doing when he brought Shiz into my life. I remember he used to wear my clothes, believe it or not. Back in the 90’s, we wore everything oversized, so he fit everything I owned. Most likely, you can blame me for his shopping addiction. He always said to me, “I love you, my nigga.” Every time! I just hope I made him feel the same love and appreciation.  

Maya Angelou said, “People will always forget what you did and what you said but will never forget how you made them feel.” He was definitely a gift to me and to this world because he made you feel accepted. I wish those who never had a chance to meet him could have. I know they would’ve been affected and touched by his personality and generosity. He was an insanely funny guy. He made you laugh until you cried. I miss that the most. I wish he was still here. 

I don’t know if he was an avid reader of the Bible, but it certainly seemed like it. He didn’t just read the Bible, but he understood it because it showed in how he lived his life. Shawn meant so much to me. He was more like a little brother, and losing him has been very difficult to deal with. I miss him dearly, and he will forever be in my heart. Shizzaleo! The best ever!

The Way He loved Me —From April Daniels

In my stillness, the prayer was for God to bring me my husband. I decided to do away with my expectation of what that husband should resemble because of the ways I had failed myself prior. My request was met with what God ordered, a true reflection of His love for me. Godspeed would produce the perfect meeting of two hearts that would change my life forever.

There wasn’t a long, drawn-out story to how our journey of love began. We knew almost instantly there was an undeniable attraction that would stand the test of trials and would produce an unbreakable “us” over time. With Lashawn, it felt like the safest place in the world. At first glance the catalyst of his gentle mannerisms would have most likely developed from great parenting, but I learned that while that may have been a contributing factor, it was not the thing that spoke the loudest to me. It was his love for God and the desire to live a life that God would find honorable in His eyes. 

Lashawn Daniels was exceptional, no ordinary man, and God had given him to me. He was my covering—a role he embodied with excellence. While he was many other amazing things, it was this role that fed my heart the most. Valuable lessons he taught challenged my adultness in ways that allowed me to reach parts of my purpose with greater understanding. You couldn’t have an encounter with my husband and not know about his Lord and Savior. Every room he entered was his pulpit. His ministry had a way of making you want a deeper relationship with God regardless of where you stood in your faith. With all intentionality you never walked away empty. My heart definitely needed him more than I had recognized, and he understood the calling when it came to me. I wasn’t just his wife but his assignment. He handled me from a place God knew he could trust him with, which made his covering that much sweeter. The way Lashawn loved God was the sexiest thing to me. I couldn’t have been blessed with a better experience as to how a man loves a woman… he gave me that. The parts of me that were damaged from the disappointment of my past recovered by the way he spoke life into me. His words were like a balm that allowed every scar to vanish. No matter the season, whether up or down, he never abandoned his assignment.

I valued him because I understood he was the answer to my prayer—all God’s doing. His integrity and loyalty stood out, but him being a man after God’s own heart made him superb in my eyes. The essence of Lashawn Daniels was priceless, and his legacy remains as such. I understand some will never get an experience like the one I had with my late husband. But for me, there are not enough words to express my gratitude for experiencing such fullness with this remarkable man. He was my best friend, confidant, spiritual leader, lover, and protector who brought an enormous amount of love, joy, laughter, and peace to my life. God, I thank you. 

My forever angel, the chapters we shared fed me every way imaginable, and our sons continue to gift me with the sweetest treasures of you. With nothing wasted, the way you loved me will always be my favorite chapter.

Your Forever Love, 

April Daniels

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