Two necklaces hang around Riverhead rapper Donte Hobson’s neck: a glittering cross and an angel.
He said the cross represents his faith in God, while the angel is symbolic of all the “guardians” who have helped him throughout his life.
It was one of those guardian angels, Mr. Hobson believes, who helped make sure his life was spared Friday when he was shot moments after performing at a night club in North Patchogue.
“I can’t question God. I can’t question why. I’m just blessed to be here,” Mr. Hobson said. “I can’t let a minor setback hold me back and get me angry. I take everything as a blessing.”
The 30-year-old Riverhead High School graduate was shot in the stomach early Friday morning after performing at the VIP Lounge on Waverly Avenue, said Suffolk County police.
Mr. Hobson — who goes by the stage name MajorLeague Bop — said he had just finished rapping in a showcase performance at the club around 1:30 a.m. when the shooting occurred. He said he was standing outside with a group of people waiting to collect the pay he’d earned from his performance when he heard a “commotion” in front of a neighboring sports bar and saw people running away.
“I’ve been around, so when I saw that I started running, too,” he said. “That’s when I heard gunshots. I didn’t know I was injured at first, but then I felt something warm.”
A friend realized Mr. Hobson had been shot in the stomach and attempted to drive him to the nearest hospital. Mr. Hobson said police officers stopped the speeding car, believing the two might have been the shooters, but called for an ambulance when they learned Mr. Hobson was injured.
Several witnesses fled the area of the shooting before officers arrived on scene, police said. No arrests have been made in the incident and the police investigation is ongoing. Detectives have asked anyone with information to call the Fifth Squad at 631-854-8552 or to make an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.
Mr. Hobson suffered a broken rib in the shooting but didn’t require surgery. He was released from the hospital that same night, he said.
He doesn’t know why the shooting occurred and is thankful no one else was injured.
“I’m taking it day by day,” he said. “It could have been worse … I’m here still. I’m able to walk and talk.”
Mr. Hobson said he’s continuing his music career to “carry the torch” for his parents, Robbie Wilson and Fleming Hobson, popular local rappers who once performed with Biz Markie, a hip-hop legend who also hails from Suffolk County.
“When I was coming up, I heard stories about my father and how he battled Biz Markie and about his group,” Mr. Hobson said.
What started as a hobby in his school years grew into Mr. Hobson’s dream when he and some friends released a mixtape and began attracting attention, he said. He started to perform in 2005 but was arrested three years later on a felony weapons possession charge.
After his conviction and four-year sentence, Mr. Hobson said he resolved to move on from his prison stint and become a professional rapper.
“I took that negative situation and turned it into a positive, so when I came home I started to work even harder,” he said. “I just took it and really got my mind right. I came back and really focused on my music.”
Since then, Mr. Hobson has released several albums under his uncle’s record label. In November, he opened for Lil’ Kim and Funkmaster Flex at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead.
Mr. Hobson was performing a single from his latest album at the VIP Lounge last Thursday before the shooting occurred. His family is grateful for the support they’ve received from friends and family.
“Everybody rallied to him through prayers on Facebook, sending prayers from everywhere, not just from this town, but down south,” his mother said. “I’m proud of him. He’s loved in our community.”
Mr. Hobson said he hopes to become successful enough to create activities for local youth so that they might avoid some of the troubles that once plagued him.
“I like entertaining the people,” he said. “I just like having fun.”
Top photo: Riverhead native Donte Hobson, a rapper who goes by the stage name MajorLeague Bop, was shot in the stomach early Friday morning after performing in North Patchogue. Mr. Hobson said he’s using the shooting as motivation to succeed. (Credit: Paul Squire)