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Read Letter

Be Yourself

Dear Jack,

Thank you for delivering my letter to Jackson last week. Do pass this one to him as well. Unfinished business: “Dear Jackson, I want to tell you a story… about fish and chips, well sort of – a true story.

I took a young protégée out for lunch at a cafe. Wanted to catch up on her life, help her sort out a thing or two. Our lunch went quite well – can’t remember what we ordered, but we had good fellowship. A young man and his girlfriend walked onto the terrace. The cafe has a terrace. (We ate on the terrace). They were apparently on a date. They seemed culturally intimidated by their context, a tad nervous. (The cafe was upscale). They were fidgety, like someone afraid of the financial repercussions of a menu. The cafe was an aspirational challenge for the boy, but you know how we like to impress girls. The cafe has two menus: a cake and pastry menu, and a light meal menu, you know, burger, chips etc. The waiter presented both menus to the couple, then withdrew to give space for rumination. The guy stared at the menu in an important manner. The girl was less confident. You and I know the guy’s mannerism is a responsorial shoring up of self assurance. He was bravely familiarising with gastronomical depth, not sure he hadn’t taken on more than he could chew. You know how you pray the menu is what you can afford? And your head becomes a calculator and estimator? And you start praying the girl doesn’t get inspired towards certain items on the menu? You do worst case scenario calculation – possibility of doing without food in order to cover the cost.

Well, the waiter came back to take the order and the young man decided to order on behalf of both of them. To be fair, the girl didn’t seem to have cognitive resonance with the menu. “We’ll have fries and chips,” the young man ordered with synthetic confidence. The waiter was a bit confused. The young woman lent support, borrowing nervous confidence from the ether: “Fries for him, chips for me.” The waiter was kindly amused. He politely explained that fries and chips are one and the same. Even I was embarrassed. This is a classic case of not being confident enough to say, “I don’t know, I need help!”

If you don’t know the way, ask for directions. There’s nothing wrong in asking the waiter questions, seeking guidance. If you don’t know, you don’t know! Here were two people pretending to be cultural aficionados, yet both knew they were lying to each other. He could have managed the date better: “Hey Molly, I’ll like to impress you…want to take you to this cafe. It looks expensive. Never been there before. If I can’t afford the fare we’ll do the dishes!” would have been a redemptive starter joke. “Molly, can you make sense of the menu? I can’t! Let’s ask the waiter!” “Waiter, what’s the most expensive cheap item on this menu a young man can impress a beautiful lady with?”

I’m just saying BE YOURSELF! BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR OWN SKIN! You can’t go through life pretending to be what or who you’re not, even emulating false values… I hear a lot of talk about gaining street cred… Maximum respect! There’s nothing wrong with street cred. It all just depends on which street. There’s Wall Street. There’s also Kirikiri Road, you know Sing Sing! Jesus spoke about street cred: Straight Way vs. Broad Street: “Don’t look for shortcuts…” he said. Then he further advised: “The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for successful life. Don’t fall for that stuff though crowds do.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with rap music. I listen to it as you well know. But you have to understand it’s all business! The stars wear bling just to have cred. No one listens to a poor man Solomon says, even if he’s rapping great wisdom. So the stars bling and pose with posh cars so you pay attention to what they say. It’s the Solomonic principle in operation. It’s why producers rent props and cars and babes for music videos. Those video vixens are working! Cars, bling, diamond grills, gold chompers…they’re all tools of business. No different from a carpenter’s hammer. Now, if you don’t understand these are businessmen selling entertainment, you’re going to get conflicted. “I hydroplane in the bank coming down with Dow Jones” saith Jay-Z in Rihanna’s Umbrella. (Dow Jones is a stock market index) “You know me. In anticipation for precipitation. Stack chips for the rainy day,” he continueth. What’s Jay-Z doing? Building Solomonic cred with talks about the green. It’s all hustle! Rap is poetry on green steroids. There’s a well known American rapper who swigs vodka on stage during performance. There’s only one problem. The vodka ain’t real. The bottle contains water! Pure water! Make believe! He’s just a businessman trying to sell a brand of vodka. It’s an endorsement deal! The man is a marketer! There’s all that gangsta talk in rap music – “thug life nigga”, “thug love”, “boss playa”… These can be no more than entertainment for you. Nothing more. I mean, you don’t watch The Godfather and start plotting how to send your brother to go sleep with the fishes! Anymore than watching Batman and you go and jump off the bridge. If you do, you’ll be considered stupid! So why jump off the bridge from rap lyrics?! That a rapper talks about guns don’t mean you should go get one! Moving in bad company and wielding guns and knives tend to shorten lifespan. Look at rap history.

You can’t have a convict as role model either. Going to prison is not hip. Ask prisoners. Orange jumpsuit is not fashion. Why do you think convicted rappers and producers avoid going back? If prison is cred won’t they get more cred? It’s not cowardice to decline participation in a crime. It’s wisdom. Listen to Solomon: “If bad companions tempt you, don’t go along with them. If they say – Let’s go out and raise some hell. We’ll load up on top-quality loot. We’ll haul it home by the truckload. Join us for the time of your life! With us, it’s share and share alike!” – Don’t give them a second look; don’t listen to them for a minute. They’re racing to a very bad end, hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on.”

Solomon’s father was a rapper by the way. He was a lyricist-composer. Well over 100 songs. “Don’t hang out at Sin Saloon…Don’t slink along Dead-End Road… Don’t go to Smart-Mouth College,” he wrote. Fear God, avoid bad company, be wise, work hard and focus. You get street cred, and a very correct babe doing just that!”

Peace! Uncle LA.

©Leke Alder 2013




Tags : Entertainment, Role model

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