The College Dropout vs. The Rap Star


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“The Downingtown High School East senior and wide receiver had a scholarship to play college football at Michigan State University next year, and was heavily recruited. But, in a surprising move, Harris says he decided to give it all up to be a rap star”.

"You gotta chase your dreams. You gotta do what you really want. If I go up there to MSU, a Division I program, and I go up there and my whole heart's not in it, I'll just be wastin' their time. This is really what I want to do for my life," Harris said.


Dismissing the reward of higher education for rap stardom is impeccable idiocy. I’ll admit, I’m all for the idiot with tunnel vision who sees only one way to live their life, give me a fool with resolve over a genius with excuses, but there has to be a sense of reality.

There is no other arena that has embraced more underdogs than hip-hop, and if you must stray from a course of cushioned security, hip-hop can be a nirvana for some, and a purgatory for others. College isn’t a guaranteed endeavor; your success isn’t sealed by a diploma. I’m a firm believer that college isn’t for everyone, especially those that aren’t able to afford the luxury, but that doesn’t mean it won’t lead to the fruition of dreams. I think of J.Cole, how his education got him out of North Carolina and into Roc Nation offices. If he decided to pursue rap without taking into consideration the possibilities allowed in New York at NYU, he would likely be asking 9th Wonder if there was a spot on Jamla for an ambitioussall, dreamer with talent. Without Sallie Mae he wouldn’t have much to rap about. Life changing opportunities can come disguised as ordinary alternatives.

I hate to be the bearer of obvious news, but the industry is beyond the days of wit and charm being enough to extend your fifteen minutes of prosperity. Breaking into the game couldn’t be easier due to the world wide spiderweb, but staying, and creating a career, will take much more than whispering your dream into the ear of the universe and a few sick bars. There isn’t much I miss about the so called "Golden Age" besides Lil Kim’s facial assets, Freaknik, and the harsh conditions one underwent to pursue rap as an occupation. The necessary demo, the amount of money that went into studio recording, it wasn’t simply having a Mac Book and a SoundCloud. You had to want it more than air, more than finical security; that’s why I hate the new artists' pompous attitude that the majority will make it. In reality that’s the problem. Souls must be trampled, sacrificed as a reminder that this isn’t for the weak and naïve.

One bothersome aspect that repulses me about youngsters daring enough to pursue a career in rap is their lack of experience. It’s all partying and bullshit, fashion and fornication, copying and pasting. My favorite is raps about how good I rap. Art is fueled by imagination and the lemons life hands us. When I hear the same superfluous references and overkilled concepts, it makes me wonder why based god made so many rappers and so few artists. You have to adventure, take risk, enjoy life, and build up enough inventive energy to self-destruct, and enough inspiration for a thousand albums. Take your universe; minimize it into a creative expression and graffiti the world. Jay-Z called it “the blueprint” for a reason. That’s how you solidity yourself in eternity. Fuck a record deal, fuck a classic; build a legacy. Sadly you might still die poor, alone, and forgotten, but without student loan debt. Live your life, and then write about it.

I come from a household where the golden rule was, “Make good grades, then go to college and discover your path”. Of course I broke it, despite being a decent student, a road block appeared and denied me the opportunity to further my education. That’s why Harris' decision left me with a stricken cord; he completely dismissed what a free ride could mean for his rap career and future in general. It’s more than classes and tests, but discovery of self, life changing professors, likeminded musical peers, internships, and of course, dropping out. I can’t say that his decision was wrong, writing found me at my lowest when I had no path. I’d like to think I’m enrolled in a new school, the University of Life – where trial and error are the only courses, graded by how well you walk through the flame.

Harris joins our alumni, for better or worst.

[Yoh has no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left for him. You can follow him at @Yoh31.]

Written by Yoh on 06/10/14

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