There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Friday, November 2, 2007

The rapper and the kids

I was reading my book in the farthest reaches of the the bus, squeezed into the driver's side corner on the back bench. Across from me in the other corner, two teenage boys had taken seats, one on the back bench and the other on the bench that runs along the side of the bus.

The boys, one black and the other brown, were sharing a bottle of some sort of juice and talking. I wondered for a moment why they weren't in school, but the thought didn't keep me from returning to my book.

A couple of stops later a 20-something young black man joined us in the back of the bus, taking a seat in the middle of the back bench. He was carrying a backpack, and so I assumed he was a Sacramento State student.

I had gone back to my book but soon I started catching pieces of a conversation between the guy and the boys. The guy had given each a slick cardboard flier, about 4 inches by 5 inches in size, advertising what was, apparently, his new rap album.

He was mentioning people he knows in the industry, and the kids were lapping it up. They were clearly impressed. I could only hear bits of the conversation. At one point the guy was discussing a particular song and sang a couple of lines from it.

And then he asked the boys, "Why aren't you in school?"

The boys said they are homeschooled, part of a "choices" program. They have to check in with a teacher periodically.

"What? You get credit for riding around on the bus," the guy asked.

"Yes," said the black kid. "We see a teacher once a week."

"And we can graduate early," said the other kid.

"That's not right," the guy said.

I really wish I could reproduce the guy's patois. He sounded a lot like American Idol judge Randy Jackson, telling the kids, "You know, dawg, . . ." He went into a lengthy explanation of the value of attending high school, the socialization of the experience, learning how to deal with other people, getting ready for the outside world. That at least was the gist of the message.

"When I graduated from high school I was really glad I went," he told the kids.

The guy rode all the way to the 65th Street station. When he got off the bus I asked him for one of his fliers, and I told him how impressed I was with what he said about high school.

He said something about taking care of his audience or kids or something -- I really need a tape recorder -- and walked to the train station with the two kids shadowing him.

SWS aka Frankee Nuklls

This is from the guy's myspace page:
He has been working hard day & night , burning the stick @ both ends to prepare for a summer release of his new album "Guess Who's Back?" SWS has Ex. Produced/Financed with his own money , every project he has done..*(PS-HE NEVER SOLD DOPE TO GET AHEAD WHEN SHIT GOT RUFF-Dont Hate) With a brief layoff do to attending MTI & getting his AA in Computers/Business. SWS has returned with one of his best albums to date. But dont take our word listen and learn. SWS is a true hip-hop artist with unbelievable potential. So if you if your game aint tight it might be time to tighten it up. SWS is determined to make the world sit up and take notice. SWS is one of the best lyricyst from the Bay Area. As a matter fact One of the Best Period...!
If the guy's career in music doesn't pan out he should try the inspirational lecture circuit. The local school districts should hire him to give motivational talks to at-risk kids.

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