When people such as Dr. Dre or Ice Cube are called pioneers or leaders in the music industry, I cringe. Don’t their followers realize the poison rappers inflict on our lives? Thousands of kids have died or have been brainwashed by rap. I hate gangsta rap, gangsters, rap music, ghetto lifestyles, ghetto fashions and explicit anything. I grew up in a very violent housing project. I’ve seen needless violence firsthand and know it’s courtesy of our rap superstars. I was in gangs and in jail and have the scars and tattoos to prove it. But as I got older I realized what I was doing, so I stopped. I got away from the lifestyle, the hood and the homies. People say, “Don’t listen to it if you don’t like it,” but it’s not that easy. Plus, there are not many positive role models in the hood. Don’t refer me to God or a church. Most religious people are hypocrites. I love your column, so just help me by sharing your thoughts.
Rap ain’t Satan. Neither was blues, rock ’n’ roll, jazz or punk back in their day. Blaming music for crime, poverty, addiction and promiscuity means the real culprits (that would be you, me and the rest of the “haves” on the planet) are free to continue slapping Band-Aids on society’s bullet wounds or just ignoring social problems altogether. Comprende? Music reflects culture. Some rap music reports realities, other songs are the fantasies of people who lack the skill to respond to difficult emotions in healthy ways. Some people who listen to rap do engage in violence and promiscuity, but rap music is not the main force behind their poor choices.
How do I know? When I was 17 years old, I traveled to London. It was 1978 and punk rock was everywhere. It was a response to the reality that teenagers and young adults faced: poverty, limited job opportunities, underfunded and poor-performing schools, family members struggling with addictions, mental illness, abuse or the residue from a traumatic childhood. People had little or no interpersonal skills and no clue they could get help. Punk lyrics were angry and, sometimes, espoused violence, but just as often lyrics were clever and funny. Yeah, like rap. So here’s my two-bit analysis: Like rappers and punks, you have free-floating anger about the world and your place in it. Except instead of pouring that heat into music (or, uh, crime), you laser-tag rap and rappers. You just need a healthier outlet for your anger.
I know you’re not fond of religion, but since I am spiritual and religious, bear with me. Yeshua (a.k.a. Jesus) once said: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” You launched yourself out of the hood. Now it’s time to reach back and bring others out. I don’t mean your immediate family, that’s expected. No, be a role model and guide to the lost. Volunteer with the Boys & Girls Club or start your own program at a local school. And try not to be too hard on religious folks. They’re learning how to give and receive love, and sometimes they fail, too, just like everyone else.
I’ve been with my boyfriend for 11 years. For the last five years, he has talked about wanting to marry me but has never asked. Should I bug him or wait?
Don’t nag. Do pop the question. Ask him to marry you. If he hesitates or refuses, you have a choice: Stay or go. I’ve laid out a very simple strategy here, so it’s likely that your mind will conjure lots of drama to avoid taking responsibility for your future. Don’t fall for it.