In the grand scheme of things when you send well wishes up
for your children and you imagine them living independently, happy and
satisfied with life, there are a few fears that may creep in. Maybe you cringe
at the thought of them becoming teenage parents or drug addicts. Your heart
might ache at the thought of your child failing out of school or being kidnapped.
As I watch my two sons grow, I wonder who they will become. At the very least I
want them to be assertive, self-sufficient and able to handle the curve balls
in life without falling apart.
A doctor or lawyer? I don’t really care. They can become
teachers or firemen or mechanics. Any career my sons choose is fine with me—unless they choose to become rappers.
The thought of my sons choosing a rap career makes me want
to hurl my cookies. But the realist in me understands why so many children
would choose this as a career goal; what other career do we celebrate as much
as we celebrate entertainers? Who are the most popular and, seemingly, most
powerful people in the limelight? Entertainers are treated like royalty
in the U.S. and who wouldn’t want the red carpet treatment?
The promises of admiration, triumph and glamour that the
celebrity entertainment lifestyle offers is enough to lure any kid away from
dreaming of making a working-class living. At the end of the day we all want to
have a chance to shine. The intense focus on celebrity life that is heralded by
the media coupled with the fact that we are in an entertainment-centered
society means that our children rarely have the chance to see that they can
shine outside of the rocker/rapper lifestyle. Parents who are so caught up in trying
to squeeze in as many work hours as they can to care for their kids are leaving
their kids behind to be raised by the media, and the media says, go big or go home.
I know what it’s like to yearn for satisfaction that hinges on the good will of others, and honestly I hope my sons will make a different choice.
Anything is attainable, yet the holy grail of success
shouldn’t be hidden behind the smokescreen of a fiction-based celebrity life. I
often ask myself what more can I do to encourage my sons to look beyond the
Jay-Z inspired idea of success and consider careers in business? The rap game
is a business used by smart men and women to gain notoriety in order to
negotiate deals that result in multiple streams of income. Most kids don’t
understand that rap is just a springboard, and they won’t invest the time into
thinking about what they can create as a result of the success they may
experience if they ever get a chance to rock the mic at the Grammy’s.
And the reality is that most won't even make it to the Grammys. I used to work as an entertainment host of a digital talk
show in Miami. My job was to find local artists and showcase them on my show,
rewarding them for their efforts at going after their dreams. I would make the
rounds late at night to all of the open mic nights and listen to aspiring
artists perform in front of crowds of 50 people sipping $2 drinks. I saw the
desperation in their faces at 2 a.m. as the crowd slowly disappeared and there
were only three people left to perform in front of.
I have seen men dedicate an entire decade of their lives to
the rap game, hoping that someone will choose them and make them a star. I know
what it’s like to want something so badly that you sacrifice everything to have
it. I know what it’s like to live a life of creative passion yet not have
enough income to pay the bills. I know what it’s like to yearn for satisfaction
that hinges on the good will of others, and honestly I hope my sons will make a different
I hope they will choose to become leaders of their own lives, involving
themselves in pursuits where their results are byproducts of their own efforts
and not the whims of popularity or anyone else’s approval.
Thank goodness my baby doesn’t feel the need to be on stage, crooning into a microphone, basing his worth on the volume of applause. He’s more of a low key kind of guy who plays the background and thinks strategically.