|Scooped by Kai Deveraux Lawson|
A Dream & A Mixtape Deferred in Philaburbia
A Dream & A Mixtape Deferred in Philaburbia
I have so much to say and yet I am not sure how to approach what needs to be said, in the not so strange case of Jay “DatBull” Harris. Not sure who I’m talking about? It’s ok, I didn’t either about a month ago. Even though is face has been plastered all across my facebook wall for the last couple of weeks. He’s the talented young football player from “Philadelphia” who gave up a full ride to Michigan State to “pursue” a rap career. Still don’t know who I’m talking about? No problem, watch this: http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/22270400/why-is-teen-giving-up-college-free-ride-to-pursue-rap-career#.UzK1FFZfRIx.facebookJames.
By the time you get to this line of text- you should be slightly familiar with DatBull. I know what you are thinking. Things like “ugh what an Idiot” and “What kind of Parent would support that” come to mind. Trust me it did for me too. Why wouldn’t it? In a country, where Education and Wealth are most highly exalted as staples of High Class and Successful society, giving up what many of us would consider the keys to the land of Milk and Honey—seems unthinkable, unheard of and unspeakable. However—in a sick and twisted way, I see where “DatBull” is coming from. Let me be CRYSTAL CLEAR—I don’t agree with his decision at all, but is SEE where he is coming from. I think.
I grew up in Chester County, Pennsylvania, myself. I lived in both West Chester and Downingtown and attended Downingtown High School’s Ninth Grade Center and West campus, when it finally opened. I saw and experienced the stark differences in the micro-cultures that resided in the geographic lines of this land of Old Money and New Poverty. One would assume, that in Suburbia, life would be grand and easy right? I mean, why wouldn’t it be? The houses are huge, the job prospects are plenty, and the air is clean. I mean—from the outside looking in, it probably looks like something directly out of your favorite network cable sitcom. However, there is a piece of suburbia that is usually overlooked, and that is the Frontin’ and Stuntin’ lifestyle of suburban youth.
Perhaps it’s because, I was often entertained by news and historical documentaries, or because I spent most weekends, holidays and summers in the company of my family members who lived in less Dollhouse like areas of the North East such as South Jamaica, Queens or Crown Heights Brooklyn (circa 2002 pre-expedited gentrification), but my impression of my surroundings, in Downingtown, was rather imposter-ish. In a world so beautiful, green and spacious, I found many of my PA peers mimicked the mindset of many of my more “Urban” and peers. Honestly, this would be fine if we were just discussing, speech, clothes, walk and entertainment preferences, because then I could just attribute it to “ Hip Hop” culture. But it was the overall mindset of social and class complacency; justification of unnecessary criminal activity and violence to “prove” EXACTLY who “Dat Jawn” or “Dat Bull” was.
It has never escaped me that many of my peers were acting out, in response to “hood like” experiences, like drug addiction, alcoholism and poverty was very common amongst my class of people. As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover and the cover of Suburbia is as attractive as a Victoria Secret Super Model, to many people in search of “Euphoric Americana”. But there was a difference; at least I had rationalized one in my head to do better. It was the promise of what the suburbs were supposed to be. For many Americans, the allure of the suburbs was the promise of opportunity and future-- the opportunity to change and the future of stability and wealth. So it just confused me how people with access to resources through our well-funded and well-kept school district managed to find comfort in the façade of the “thug” than that of the “scholar.
In a recent review of Author and Feminist Joan Morgan’s AMAZING book “When Chicken Head’s Come Home to Roost—she discusses the lusty relationship many people have with struggle. Noting: Struggling people impose conditions, restrictions, and expectations on themselves, because it’s easier to struggle doing nothing, then it is to bring up and use the creative force within.” This sounds applicable to what I experienced growing up in Chester County.
Don’t get me wrong I’m no better or different than anybody—and many people can attest to this—In high school I smoked, I drank, I listened to and LOVED Hip Hop culture (still do), and I yearned for the glitz and glamour of the city life, that seemed to have the greenest grass than the bunch on my front lawn. However—my confusion led me to prioritize college as my way out. I just wanted out of the complacency, because I had bigger dreams. So yes I smoked, and I also studied I held a 3.7GPA for most of my high school career. Yes—I drank like most underage people do, and yet I managed to lead Student Government and the Black Student Union, and let me be proclaim that my love for Hip Hop Culture is nothing new, While I was winning Homecoming Queen, I was blasting the latest Diplomats album. I say this with no shade, but I like to believe I kept it real to myself without downgrading my integrity. I vowed never to let my rebellions overtake my need to get out and become My Dreams. In no way do I mean to discredit anyone else’s experience, I just want to point to my own as a way to express the possibility of “Doing You” without getting “Caught Up”.
So what’s up with Jay DatBull Harris? Why would a star athlete riding the wave of local athletic celebrity, take to promoting an under developed hobby in rap and prioritizing it over his silver platter handed scholarship to a D1 school? Well here is my theory coupled with some hometown insight from a close source. Theory 1—I don’t think he really wanted to give up football for a rap career. I mean why would he? He’s so much better at football then rap, and quite frankly he had a higher chance of going pro football then going pro MC. According to my source, his affinity for football was so strong he switched high schools for a better playing opportunity. Not to mention—he’s trained for this his whole life! He’s completely invested and at least until this story broke, 100% dedicated to the life of the pigskin and the turf
Theory 2—because all the other rapper kids are doing it. Jay-Z spoke to this issue on a New York City radio station. He discussed how once ago dudes rapped out of necessity, a means to succeed and an alternative to hustlin’. Nowadays—everybody raps because they think they can. And what’s a rapper without music videos and mixtapes talking about Money (you don’t have) Designer Clothes (you don’t have) and Hoes (you don’t have)… Right? No, terribly wrong. The reality of it is that it was a dumb move. A dumb move most young people make these days, while feeling themselves, also known as Invincibility. Only—even in suburban Philadelphia, the dumbest of moves, in the name of keeping it Real and Gangsta, can damage your available opportunity and future and Jay Harris’ story should be the most cautionary of all tales to young people with lofty dreams.
I’d like to clear something’s up before closing out this post. The first being that Jay “Dat Bull” Harris, did not give up his Football Scholarship for a Dream of becoming a Rap Superstar. Yea—I know, but I don’t care WHAT he told the news people. I take this stand, because in reality it was revoked in response to his Rap Video. To me—there’s nothing mutual about that, but that’s a WHOLE other story, that I’ll save for another rant. The other thing I’d like to acknowledge is that Jay Harris is enrolled in West Michigan University and is on the football team. I’ve googled this and it is confirmed on their website. Yes—you may now let out your sigh of relief. I know I let mine out! Although I do not know the specifics about this move, I do know it speaks to the REALITY of Frontin’ & Stuntin’—that it can get you caught out there on the internet looking stupid, when all you really wanted to do was some hoodrat things with your friends.