Who's your favorite rapper, Joe?

Week of October 19, 2006

Lil' Bow Wow

Hey Joe: Lil' Bow Wow is my favorite rapper. Who's yours?

T'Asia Mandesa, St. Louis

I'm not too familiar with rappers. I do know they are very creative, but I've never been able to understand everything they are saying. That's something that youngsters can pick up immediately and afterwards repeat the words verbatim. Though for some reason I really like Snoop Dogg. I've seen him several times on television, appearing on Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel. I find him to be quite amusing. I also hold Nelly in high regard. I follow his contributions to the inner city and think they're very thoughtful.

But most well-known rap artists have also proven to be shrewd business people. I am so glad I learned this, because prior I was turned off by the derogatory statements directed toward women. Devoid of this, their method of devising such entertainment is the mark of a genius. But rap enthusiasts must remember that everybody can't be a rapper but most can become geniuses in school. Therefore, if you can't become successful in one category, you definitely can succeed in the other.

Now, you say you like Bow Wow, or as I understand it, "Lil' Doggy Bow Wow." There is nothing in the world wrong with that, provided that he isn't using slanderous sayings against women and/or using profane language. Imagine you reaching the height of Bow Wow without the necessary schooling to protect your finances. Then in all probability you would have to pay someone to do these things. And if a person isn't trustworthy, there is a chance you might end up broke. This is the situation Bow Wow could experience had he not prepared himself academically. The same holds true for celebrities in all walks of life.

At your age, if you are able to follow the words of Bow Wow, you can do likewise with schoolwork. Nothing beats knowledge, and once you become successful, having knowledge makes it better. I always keep in mind this saying: "A wise old bird who lived in a tree, the less he heard, the more he would see. The more he would see, the less he heard. That's why he lived to be a wise old bird."

In the world in which we live today, you must be wise in order to survive. This is due to its competitiveness. The competition usually boils down to jobs, and without a job, it is very difficult to survive. Therefore, it is essential that you get academically prepared. In these days, a high school diploma is required to land a job digging holes. The more technology advances, the more difficult it is to find a job. As a result, it seems the more knowledge gained, the more that's needed to escape the process of elimination.

Prince Joe Henry, one of professional baseball's original "clowns," was an all-star infielder for Negro League baseball teams in Memphis, Indianapolis and Detroit throughout the 1950s. But up until the late 1940s, Prince Joe didn't know anything about the Negro Leagues. His knowledge of organized baseball was limited to the Cardinals and Browns games he attended during his preteen years at Sportsman's Park, accompanied by lifelong buddy Eugene "Gene" Crittendon, who could pass for white.

Perhaps Henry's most vivid memory of those games: Upon entry, white ushers would politely escort the boys to a small section of the left-field stands reserved for "Colored." After climbing past several tiers of bleachers, they'd arrive at their stop, rows and rows behind their white counterparts.

Even at a young age, the boys were conscious of the double standard -- and determined to vent their disdain. The opportunity would arise with the urge to urinate. Rather than head for the latrine, the boys would edge their way to the front of the section and let fly. As the liquid foamed its way down the concrete steps toward the white kids, Henry and his pal would ease back and relax, politely rooting for the visiting team to beat the hell out of the Browns or the Cards.

After all, Henry and Crittendon hailed from Brooklyn, Illinois, a small, predominantly black township just east of the Mississippi River. So hospitable were the residents of Brooklyn that they were known to take in a rank stranger, treat him to breakfast, lunch, supper and a night out on the town -- and afterward, if he messed up, treat him to a good ass-whippin'.

Direct questions on any and all topics to [email protected]. If we don't like yours, we'll hit Joe with our own.

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