RAY JOHNSON: Is Your Daughter Falling in Love With Thugs Through Music?

sac-button-rayOPINION – “Oooooh that’s my baby daddy!” was the response from an 11-year-old girl at a junior high school in Vallejo, California, after a photo of rapper Lil Wayne appeared on the big screen during my gang prevention presentation. This young girl was not alone, numerous other girls sprinkled throughout the classroom made their affections for the artist known through ooohing and awwwing, some even clapping with excitement.

At this point I was compelled strongly to pause the class. I felt an urgent obligation to attempt to enlighten their world, I knew that their perception of this artist was heavily skewed and distorted by Hollywood’s magical glorification of the “gangster paradise,” which we see being presented in music videos, movies, magazines, etc.

“Are you familiar with Lil Wayne’s Lyrics?” I asked the girl who yelled out ”that’s my baby’s daddy.” She responded, “oh yeah, I got all his cd’s and downloads.”

I then asked her, “So you know he is a self-proclaimed woman abuser, drug dealer, armed robber and killer?” She and the other girls didn’t respond verbally, but their facial expressions presented a puzzled and somewhat of an offended expression. I then loaded up another presentation slide of an excerpt from a Lil Wayne song. I read it to the class, minus the curse words:

Lil’ Wayne: Hello World Lyrics
Unn Hello world im ur mut**f***** troublemaker
hello world im ur mut**f***** troublemaker
i aint a peacemaker, im the peacetaker
im very destructive, watch me break ya
Yea, i love to smell that blood, bi***
Call me the devil what the hell……..

After I read these lyrics, the puzzled looks on the faces of the girls, appeared to transform into expressions of embarrassment. I turned to the same girl and asked, “Young lady, why is it you want Lil Wayne as your baby’s daddy?” After a long pause, she responded in a very unconfident low tone, “I don’t know.” When I asked the class, why some of them enjoyed such an artist like Lil Wayne, I observed numerous shrugged shoulders and then one girl yelled out, “I like his beats.”

I then pointed to a boy in the front row, and asked the girls, “If this guy came to your house, and read — not rapped — these same lyrics of Lil Wayne’s as a special message to you, what would you do?” The same girl that said she liked Lil Wayne’s beats, yelled “I would slap him.” The other young girls in the class concurred verbally and with nods.

“Why?” was my next question. A flurry of answers from the young girls shot out, “Because he’s disrespectful,” “I’d beat him down”, a multitude of similar responses poured out. I paused the class once again with another question, “So why is it alright with Lil Wayne to say it?” No responses, once again, puzzled, embarrassed looks begin to appear.

I added, “So are you saying that as long as a boy comes to you with “bling, bling” (expensive jewelry), cool clothes and sings or raps those same Lil Wayne lyrics with a nice flow (rap) or melody and a cool beat, it’s cool?” Still silence hovered over the young girls.
I explained to the girls that I believed they said they would of slapped the boy, because they felt disrespected, that he would have the nerve to say something that inappropriate to them, which they all agreed with. I went on to say that I believed that they were so mesmerized by the cool beat, the melody and the “swag”(coolness) of Lil Wayne, that they have allowed him to disrespect their womanhood through disrespectful and obscene lyrics, again they did not contest.

The main message I wanted to plant into the students was to “think about what you think about.” Meaning, next time you think about listening to music with inappropriate lyrics, think about why you want to do it, and lastly, “Never sell your self-respect out for a beat or anything else.”

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By Rayford Johnson
Executive Director/Founder
ThugExposed.Org Gang & Drug Prevention