Gangsta Degree

Editor's note: The

views expressed inside this editorial aren't necessarily the views of or its employees.Law 21: Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker. Seem Dumber than your Mark. Have you ever heard a rapper spit a few bars that were radically genius and wondered wow he sounds so smart? That’s because he probably is! You would be surprised to learn that some of the most renowned Hip-Hop artists not only are intelligent, but also have the degrees to verify that position. Ludacris, Ice Cube, Plies, Wale, Stat Quo, even Flavor Flav have met the qualifications of an institution as a graduate. Yes “Flavoooor Flaaaav!” Everyone knows Kanye West was a college dropout, but many others had similar stories and continued onto stardom such as Master P, Paul Wall, Common, Rick Ross, Rich Boy, and Diddy. When Ashanti was providing the soundtrack to your love fests she also could have tutored you, because not everyone had been accepted into the Ivy League of Princeton University. When you walk into an attorney or doctor’s office the first thing you notice is a 17x21 frame on the wall displaying their diplomas. When’s the last time you were in the studio or watching MTV Cribs and saw the same thing sitting encased within a trophy shelf next to an emcee's other accomplishments? Why doesn’t hanging a degree hold any leverage compared to hanging up a platinum plaque? Has the dream of attending college been replaced with the fantasy of driving an Aston Martin? The answer is possibly that the plaque leads to money, hoes (not necessarily women), and clothes while the degree might get you clowned and called a square by the dudes on the block. As a rapper, you typically need street credibility and respect and the need to service some megalomaniac thirst forces some to omit the smarter factors. These are the ideals that should be banished or at least quelled. As a community it should be the peoples' duty to achieve education without some backwards negative societal response. Rappers feel pressured to masquerade superficially in order to appease the masses. Here is a shocker. Most rappers rappers are not ignorant, but they more often perpetuate ignorance in order to make a living and gain sales. If a lieutenant in the mafia whacks somebody every day, he's a bad motherf***er that you should respect - in that world. If that same mafia guy has a degree, people would look at him like more of a Don, correct? Why doesn’t a rap artist get extended the same type of accolades? In the rap world, neglecting the fact of being educated has become the thing to do in order to maintain your popularity and public perception. Hip-Hop has limited itself by paralyzing its participants this way. In any other culture one would be proud to have attended a college or university and earned a degree. This is a victory that has been lost in hip hop because our artists in leadership positions have chosen to champion otherwise. So many rap artists will hit the stage to perform at a college’s homecoming show, but never scream out on record that they are alumni. You have worked hard and earned a rare opportunity. You were accepted into something special based on your own merits and keen qualities this should not be ignored. Where is the gratitude for this experience? Not everyone fits this category Wyclef and Lil Wayne recently became enrolled as well as Soulja Boy has made mention of wanting to attend a university. David Banner has always displayed his educated spectrum through his music and other speaking engagements. He recognizes the power behind being educated. He chooses to immobilize such in order to build a positive future. Even newcomer rap sensation J. Cole has proudly boasted that he is a graduate of St. John’s University and was Magna Cum Laude. These are achievements that shouldn’t just make his momma proud, but everyone in the culture should gravitate to these sorts of accomplishments because they make the culture look good. After all isn’t this one of the things that matters so much in the rap world “looking good.” People, having a crispy appearance should not just mean in the physical sense. The children should say, “I want to be like this artist” not just because he’s lyrically dope, or has riches galore but in addition because he went to college. Being a rap superstar is a once in a lifetime chance, but going to college is attainable for so much of the youth today. Privately wouldn’t one assume that artist tell their own children to go to college, so why not spread the message a little broader since rappers have wider audiences than traditional teachers. True, everyone knows that you do not need to go to college to be successful in the music business. However I’m sure it helps to hold a degree when you’re at the record label sitting in a board meeting about marketing, budgets, and licenses. Having a college education demonstrates that you were able to conquer more than one realm. The cultivation of knowledge is precious. It is a sacred treasure that should be honored. Let’s support higher education along with the other materialist virtues if only to create a tiny shift towards a competent balance. The world is dark enough and could use a face lift to unmask the existing disparities. No matter how fly rappers may wear it cocked and leaning to the side, it doesn’t make it “cool” to rock a dunce hat on top of an educated brain.