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Rap in the Streets, Rap in the Suites

 

Anthony Smith has died nearly a week after being shot.

Anthony was a young man of 17-years and a student at Miami's Booker T. Washington High School. He played football and would have been a Senior this year if not for the gunshots that killed him. The fatal bullet penetrated his chest and collapsed his lungs.

The beginning of the end for Anthony was a birthday celebration. It was uncharacteristic of him but he went to the big party staged in the Overtown section of the city over the July 4th weekend. The party went strong into the early morning until it was sprayed with assault weapons fire. Anthony was one of twelve people hit.

It happened just a stone's throw from where nine young people were shot in January. In both mass shootings two of the wounded did not make it. A few days before Anthony Smith died, Michelle Coleman succumbed to three bullet wounds. She was 21-years-old and a nursing student at Florida A&M University and a graduate of Miami Central High School. Michelle was pregnant when she died.

Miami Carol City High is a school very much like Anthony's Booker T. Washington and Michelle's Central High. Once you've been there for 26-years it is little surprising as you pull out of the faculty parking lot on a Friday to see the utility poles and the fences surrounding the school plastered with posters. The sight is a not uncommon form of the street marketing of rap.

And in the rap game Carol City High has some standing. William Roberts is a 1986 graduate of the school. He is now internationally known by his stage name Rick Ross or as "The Big Boss". His choice of show business personas is an homage to the drug trafficker some say introduced crack cocaine to the United States, Freeway Ricky Ross from Los Angeles. For the video All I Really Want from his latest recording, Deeper Than Rap, he made a pilgrimage to Medellin, Colombia. According to a New York Times story, "In footage from the trip, available on YouTube, he stands outside the house where Pablo Escobar was killed, sunglasses off, soaking in history."

Sometime after Rick Ross' Port of Miami and after Trilla and before Deeper Than Rap the posters advertising an aspiring young rapper who calls himself Eady appeared around Carol City High. In the posters at a distance it is clear Eady is a young man with long dreadlocks and that he has created a work he calls Dope Pusher. And from a distance he appears to be starring out from the poster holding a book in his hands. Upon moving closer the book is rather two fists full of cash. For the passerby who equates money with goodness and success, Eady hovers over as a saint.

You can listen to Eady's Dope Pusher on the Internet web site (http://24hourhiphop.com/music/Eady+-+Dope+Pusher/621/).

The street marketing of Eady's product around Carol City High and elsewhere is done by Big Bank Music Productions. The fledgling local record company's philosophy is expressed on their web site. They say, "There are two types of hard core rappers among mankind. You have your mainstream rapper, who appears to be rigid and tough at all times, never smiles. He's always spitting heavy rhymes about his struggle as a child or how many innocent individuals that he or she may have killed or done bodily harm to. This "24-hour Thug" is usually a phony, that lives in Beverly Hills, attended private school, and believes that spotlighting hardship and poverty is a marketing strategy for his music career. On the other hand you have your boyish, rapper that was a statistic of a not so pleasant neighborhood, and grew up against all possible odds, but finds a resource to tap into their musical talent and shares their inner most secrets through music and introduces their story of how you can take a bad situation and turn it into a good situation. This spark of hope is none other than Southern rapper EADY. EADY has come to breathe "fresh air" into the current rap game.

And Eady describes himself thus, "As a rapper from the ghetto, I don't want to highlight my struggles and upbringing like other rappers, instead I want to rap about working towards the future and showing communities around the world that if you work hard at something, good things will come to you. I am the voice of the hood. I am here to inspire."

Sumner Redstone recently paid a visit to Miami. He was just across the causeway from Booker T. Washington High at Jungle Island. He came as the featured speaker at the scholarship fundraiser for the Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy. It was the school's 60th anniversary dinner celebration. Tickets were $136.00 per person. The private school's annual tuition is quite steep, from $8,000 for the early childhood program up to $16,000 for the high school, and so nearly half their 600 students are helped with financial aid.

Redstone is 85-years-old and a multi-billionaire but still working. He is the executive chairman or CEO of the Viacom Corporation. Viacom is a media giant and the company owns both Black Entertainment Television (B.E.T.) and Music Television (MTV).

Redstone's B.E.T. and MTV networks have not deemed Eady's Dope Pusher worthy of airtime yet. But the young self-described "voice of the hood" has not given up on that possibility because he knows the story of Carol City High's William Roberts b.k.a. Rick Ross.

Eady has tweaked the title of his seminal work. He now calls it The Pusher. Eady and many young African-American men know that you can rap about and glorify the drug trade and the accompanying gun play and mayhem and violent massacres and birthday parties sprayed with assault weapons fire. And if you do it at just the right pitch and in the right tenor. And if you aim it at the young people like Anthony Smith late of Booker T. Washington High and Michelle Coleman late of Florida A&M University and away from the young people at Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy. Then Sumner Redstone will push your rhymes like weight on his B.E.T. and his MTV and make you the new Big Boss.

R.I.P Anthony Smith, you were a fine young man who deserved a better United States to grow up in. R.I.P. Michelle Coleman, in a better nation we would have known you as a nurse and mother and gotten to hold your baby in our arms. You were our son and our daughter and we failed you. All of us grown folks who sit and watch you die one after another failed you. But we pledge to both of you that this time we will find the courage to straighten our backs up and go after and stop those people who profit, who make huge fortunes, who count the blood money after your deaths.