While standing beside my truck at a gas station the other night, filling my tank and minding my own business, the loudest car I’d ever heard pulled up alongside the next pump. The driver of the car had his stereo turned up so loud that the car was vibrating and rattling. He left his music blaring when he opened the door to purchase gasoline and I was greeted by an un-muffled version of the sounds that he had been riding with.
I don’t enjoy the image that rap music portrays. It seems that rappers have perpetuated a reputation for being angry foul-mouthed violently abusive drug using criminals that carry guns and cause problems. They’re portrayed in videos as tough and fearless and lacking respect for authority. While some rap artists are truly poets for a new generation, it seems to me that their message is often overshadowed by their image.
So I was pleased to learn that, for the past five years, R&B artist Shaffer “Ne-Yo” Smith has visited underprivileged children across the country, bringing toys, games, shoes and clothing as part of his charity’s annual “giving tour”. He and his mother, who is the president of his charitable foundation, recently visited six cities in six days, bringing Christmas gifts to more than 3,000 kids at Boys and Girls clubs, group homes and in foster care.
“I grew up pretty much like you all. We didn’t have a lot of anything … there was no silver spoon in my mouth.” – Ne-Yo
Ne-Yo tells the children that he is living, breathing proof that you need to find something that you love to do and “stick with it”. I've learned that there's more to rappers than making cars vibrate and rattle. I imagine I'll be a little more tolerant the next time I encounter an overly-aggressive rap fan with poor hearing at a neighboring gas pump.
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