Story by Jacob Wilson-Hajdu, Photo by Ascension Arts

“I guess the depression caught up with him,” says Michael Thompson, friend of local artist Travis “Royal T” Fleming. “He had a few downfalls there, just like anyone else. But we thought he was getting back to his feet. I guess it just didn’t all line up.” Fleming lost his life to a battle with depression July 5.

Thunder Bay born and raised, Fleming was deeply involved in the local rap scene as early as 1999. Performing in local groups such as Mothatruckaz and Yesmen, Fleming made more than a mark on the scene and culture. “He played with guys all around Canada, whether is was Winnipeg’s Most or dudes out west,” says Thompson. “He produced a heck of a lot of albums, for someone so underrated.”

Thompson explains that Fleming was somewhat a mentor to him, and eventually brought him onto his first record label (Deepcave Records) in 2006-2007.  Thompson says that Fleming was a “bank of knowledge” when it came to the rap scene here in Thunder Bay. “He was the one who made the decision to put me on the label,” he says. “He said that I have been around for a long time and that I put in the work. So he put me on. We worked a lot together.”

A fundraiser show, Rest in Royal T, will be held at Crocks on September 17. The event is intended to educate and advocate for mental health and suicide awareness. “I am hoping to get some information and pamphlets from the Mental Health Society to have available,” says Thompson. “We just want to put the word out that this is happening in our city.”

Headliners such as Webby D & Grimace the Butler, Beatfarm, Pretty Ugly, and Thompson’s group, Rise of Elohim, will be making an appearance at the show.  Thompson explains that the profits from the show and raffle sales will all be going to a trust fund for Fleming’s daughter, who was only five years old when she lost her father.

“Everything that comes in, all the money, is going directly into a fund for Travis’ daughter’s education,” says Thompson.