Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Clifford's Footsteps

Remember when rap star TI became a completely different person? Prior to the murder of his best friend/personal assistant Philant Johnson, & being busted attempting to buy illegal assault rifles, TI was as much a part of the "problem" as every other rapper who raps without conscious. He glorified violence, materialism, genocide, bragged about his criminal activities & made no apologies about doing so. "Trap rap" was the term coined in regards to him, & many other MC's from his region based on their affection & glamorization of the drug dealer lifestyle. TI became the poster D(ope)-boy for the movement.

Suddenly, he had a couple changes of heart, most likely caused by actuality catching up to him in real-time. He found himself being bitten by the frozen snake he found in the woods. His friend died in his arms, his bodyguard sold him up the river, & already being a convicted felon, he was facing a substantial amount of his life being given to the "system" for his criminal charges. His outlook dramatically changed, seemingly overnight. He began lecturing the youth at school across the country, speaking at rallies about the importance of voting, & starred in an arguably successful reality show aimed at rehabilitating misguided kids before it was too late. He made it clear that he regretted what his life had become, & even warned kids about making similar mistakes on a few talk show couches. The album he recorded while awaiting his day of confinement has been hailed as his most successul, & ironically, his most uplifting & positive release. His relese date is in February, & that will be the hour which he proves himself a changed man, or that the last two years of his life was all merely song & dance.

Only a fool sees prison as a respectable badge of honor. That's like bragging about overdosing on heroin, but surviving. Being arrested is one thing-you can get arrested for indecent exposure, public drunkenness, disturbing the peace, etc. But being found guilty of whatever charges, & going to prison (not a holding cell), is reality at it's most intimate. Case(s) in point; my uncle got locked up for drug trafficking, did almost a decade, came home & has NEVER spoken about what transpired, except to say what degrees he'd obtained. My cousin, coincidentally one of the toughest niggas I've ever met, is serving 25 to life for armored car robbery & attempt murder, & within the last few years has found God & is now studying theology. A close friend of mine is doing a several years on an assault charge, & his letters reek of despair, loneliness & regret. Before he got locked up this last time, he made it a point to speak out about how prison isn't where any of us want to be. He was adamant in his disdain. Hopefully, this time will be his last. All three of these men are nothing short of "gangsta", yet it's obvious that prison time has affected them in ways that even a tumultuous street life couldn't.

Every other month, there seems to be another rapper going to jail. The oddity isn't in the fact that they've committed crimes & ultimately had to "pay their debt to society", but that only Clifford Harris has spoken in regards to this being the inescapable result of unwise decision making. I wonder if Lil Wayne will fully utilize his popularity & tell the millions of impressionable teenagers worldwide that, if they don't smarten up, this is what could happen? No dice, I'm sure. That's quite a bit of pressure to put on a man who earns a heavy pay load by being a negative influence.

Rapper Lil Boosie was sentenced to a year over a gun charge, & all he could do was brag about how "it's nothing". Never once did he tell his supporters publicly, "Don't do what I did". He softens the blow by making it appear to be just a stumbling block to be dismissed & forgotten.

There's a rapper in the Bay Area, CA, that goes by the name "The Jacka" who last year, released a mix tape dedicated to the incarcerated. I understand his sentiments, because I truly believe a man's heart can not be judged solely by his instinctive actions, but if you have to do the time, the least we can do is let kids know that it's not a movie, video game, rap fantasy or "time-out". It's punishment, & punishment should be treated as a tool for future prosperity, rather than glorified war story.

I know better than to believe an artist has the responsibility of mentoring their fans, but at least have some decency about it. C-Murder, convicted of murder, hasn't said one thing positive to the "fans" who supported him. His story ends with "live how you get it" or "die by the sword", when some of the youth would take a "think twice about what's important" to heart just as eagerly. I hear people talk about how there's a lack of guidance in our communities, & I disagree. The guidance is there, but it's dispensed from all the wrong people, places & things.

The thing I love about mistakes is that when I get through them, I can share with my people how/why it happened to me & how they can avoid it. & I don't have to take a goody-goody stance & denounce any aspects of life to help a lesson get learned, becaused I lived it. Hopefully more rappers will follow Clifford's footsteps, & educate the youngters to the true nature of voluntary enslavement, tax monies for prisoners & the infrastructure designed to empower failure.

Much respect to the dudes who did their time & came home ready to make a difference. The truth is, we need more cats to show the positive sides of negative situations. In the words of the Real Freeway Ricky Ross, "I'm out now, & it's time to make things happen".


Tony Grands said...


I know Shyne didn't read this, but I'll be damned if he wasn't @ least reading my mind...

Kiana said...

If this aint the truth. I think the lack of honesty, and the bravado by some major artists today is what causes me to turn off the radio. I'm impressed by TI's willingness to say he fucked up and his path wasn't necessarily the best one.

Anonymous said...