Monday, August 20, 2007

Politicians or Rappers? Which are better role models?

First it was a New Zealand mayoral candidate, Len Brown, trying to stop Ice Cube from performing in the country because, "We don't need a gangsta rapper working against the future interests of our young. It's time to freeze out the Ice Cube. We don't want him. We don't need him. He is not welcome here." The Ice Cube concert went on as scheduled.

Then it was a Baltimore City Council candidate, Donald Dewar III, trying to stop a Lil' Wayne and Juelz Santana concert from happening in that city because, "
with all the crime and drugs, having anything like that that promotes it seems inappropriate." The concert went on as scheduled.

Thankfully, on both occasions both the law - contractually and free speech - prevailed. My concern is that the rappers (and their attorneys) seem to understand the law more than the men seeking official positions of public service. This is problematic.

We saw the same thing in the early '90s and in recent years with continued attacks on free speech. It amazes me how often politicians look, not to parents and teachers and government and big business, for answers to all of our societal problems, be it Columbine or Don Imus' rant, by attacking popular music.

It's popular for a reason. Perhaps the suburban kid in Montgomery County, Maryland, can't relate to what Lil' Wayne is rapping about, but I'm sure there's a kid in Baltimore that can. That's a reality. Rap music, or heavy metal for that reason, doesn't glamorize criminal lifestyles and street life anymore than movies like Scarface or the upcoming Denzel-Crowe flick, American Gangster. Why don't these politicians attack the movie stars?

Anyway, what I'm really trying to say is that these politicians, especially the aspiring ones, should think about why they really want to run for office. Is it to find something and someone to blame for problems in the community or is it to fix the problems in the community?

Lyrics aside, Ice Cube, Lil' Wayne, and Juelz Santana are making an honest living - just like any other musician - when they otherwise might be on the street truly hurting the community.

By pulling themselves up from nothing to having millions of fans, many of whom will be inspired - not necessarily by their lyrics, but by their accomplishments - I don't think it's a far stretch to say evidence indicates these rappers may be just as much worthy of role model consideration as these aspiring politicians who don't know the law.

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