Grammy-winning rapper T.I. visited West Oakland’s Cole Middle School today to speak about the importance of education and smart choices (and to perform some of his 1,500 court-ordered hours of community service following a plea agreement in a federal weapons case).
T.I.’s advice included catchy one-liners like “School is an investment that will get you paid later on,” “Trust me, there’s nothing sexy about being 32 years old and staying with your mama,” “You can be smart and still be cool,” “Being stupid don’t make you a gangster,” and “Not thinking, being stupid, can kill you.”
For the most part, the kids seemed to be soaking up every word. Some looked positively transfixed by the star power in their midst. Maybe they came away inspired by T.I.’s message of hard work and staying out of trouble.
I wonder, though, how the impact of the rapper’s words stacks up against his life story, in the kids’ minds. They are well aware of the fact that T.I. is rich and famous — even though he dropped out of school in ninth grade, and even though his rap sheet includes 32 arrests, by his count. Continue Reading