Wednesday, April 16, 2008

T.I. Wants To Save Your Children.

The fine folks of Atlanta never cease to amaze me when it comes to their relentless celebrity worship. Last year, I told ya'll about two Atlanta area school systems that invited noted one hit wonder Yung Joc to speak to elementary school students about achievement. It didn't make much sense to me that in a city chock full of black entrepreneurs and professionals, the best representative of "achievement" that the school system could find was a guy best known for such lyrics as "meet me at the traaaap, it's goin' down", not to mention that idiotic motorcycle dance. On the bright side, at least he didn't use a vocoder.[1]

Well, eager to one-up each other, school systems and civil rights organizations, and various other bastions of impressionable youth are lining up to help (c)rapper T.I. serve his 1,000 hours of community service.

If T.I. will speak, people will listen. That was the reasoning behind the U.S. Attorney's Office plea deal with the enormously popular Atlanta rapper — giving him a reduced prison sentence but making him earn it by spending at least 1,000 hours over the next year preaching nonviolence to "at-risk youth."

Less than 24 hours after the highly publicized plea, requests for the rapper to speak have come rolling in, Steve Sadow, one of the rapper's lawyers, said Friday.

"The idea really is he can get through to kids and fans like nobody else can," Sadow said. "Why not take advantage of what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?"

T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., pleaded guilty Thursday to three firearms violations charges. Under the advisory federal sentencing guidelines, Harris faced between 4 years and 9 months and 5 years and 11 months in prison. Instead, when he is sentenced in March 2009, he will be ordered to spend a year and a day in prison as long as he fulfills the obligations of his community service and stays out of trouble.

For community service, Harris will speak out in opposition to drugs, gangs and illegal and reckless gun use. He also must promote respect for law enforcement, according to the plea deal. Already, local district attorneys, a law enforcement group from Florida and a local NAACP chapter are among those asking for Harris' time, Sadow said.
I don't just play a parent on TV, I'm actually one in real life. That said, I'm not a child psychologist. Perhaps one of my more enlightened readers can tell me if this sorta 'scared straight' public speaking that T.I. will engage in is proven to actually deter kids from a life of crime and inevitable punishment. My completely uneducated guess is 'no'.

I can just see T.I. pulling up (chauffeured of course) to Bankhead Middle School in a $400,000 car, draped in jewels, publicist and weedcarriers in tow, entering an auditorium full of giddy kids. He'll probably say something or other like "drugs are bad, stay in school, take your vitamins, blah blah blah", but inevitably, the whole thing will turn into typical idolatry. T.I. will sign and pass out promotional copies of his latest single "Thank God For Good Jewish Lawyers", pose for some flicks with kids and a wannabe cool assistant principal, and dip in less than an hour. And as he pulls away in his Maybach on the way back to his million dollar home, the kids won't think anything other than "man, that's a fly ride, and I gotta get me one." Nobody will be saved from the traaaap, nobody will be enlightened to stray from crime. Why?

Simply because T.I.'s music is all about nothing but crime. I seriously doubt many of these kids will draw the distinction between the guy who raps about ignant sh*t and became a millionaire in the process, and the guy who tells them not to do the very same ignant sh*t that made him a millionaire in the process. It's just human nature.

Besides, isn't this the same T.I. who helped me coin the phrase "raise your own damn kids"?

How soon we forget.

If the judge really wanted to make this whole charade impactful, he'd demand that T.I. be treated like the criminal he is, not a celebrity. He'd be brought to the school in a squad car, draped in an orange jumpsuit, and shuffled into the same auditorium in handcuffs with his probation officer behind him. He would be forced to explain to these kids what his dumb ass was thinking for amassing a military grade stockpile of guns when his fool ass was already on probation. As he sat there, shifting uncomfortably in his seat[2], and looking emaciated[3], he'd also have to espouse the virtues of truthfulness by telling all about the person(s) he snitched on to get such a sweetheart deal in the first place. There would be no promo CD handouts, no autographs, and no photo ops. He would be shackled back up and lead back out to the squad car, as the impressionable kids looked on at this miserable scene and thought to themselves, "man, T.I. really f*cked up! I need to stay in school." But you and I know there's no way it goes down like that.

This is good P.R. for Clifford Harris, and little more. A Grand Hu$tle indeed.

And for that, the celebrity worshipping adults who will invite the rapper to appear in front of hundreds of kids as he effortlessly burns off his thousand hours oughta be ashamed.[4]

But that's just my opinion, what's yours?[5]

Question: Will T.I.'s Scared Straight Tour 08' actually deter kids from a life of crime, or is this dude just lucky he's rich enough to hire good attorneys?

Requests roll in for rapper T.I. to speak to groups [AJC]

[1] The Vocoder Anthology, coming soon to

[2] Catch my drift?

[3] Well, moreso than he normally does.

[4] And if you're shakin' your head at this whole story, but not doing anything to prevent the next T.I., then you oughta be ashamed as well. Do somethin' already!

[5] What the heck does T.I. stand for anyway? Totally Ignant? Terrible Influence? Truly Illiterate?

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