At 5:30 p.m.
Lindbergh Boulevard traffic resembles the common cold. Symptoms of heavy congestion with a slight runny nose resemble cars slowly seeping through busy intersections.
I don’t like driving in traffic and certainly hated doing it to the sound of silence, especially with a passenger in the car. My passenger, a 16-year-old young man from the west side of ST. Louis who had seen a fair share of the hard knock life as well as participated in it, sat silently in the passenger seat. Fate had placed us together in this moment of stopping every 2 feet slowly heading toward our destination. He, a juvenile delinquent (or maybe just a teen who could use some guidance), and I, an assistant director of a juvenile delinquent rehabilitation program, destined to momentary boredom under half-lit street lamps.
I decide to break the trance brought on by the mundane episode airing through my windshield with one of my favorite hip hop artist Lecrae. I turned on his recent hit “Broke.” The bass and kick-filled beat pumped through the speaker and took our minds off the traffic.
By now, both our heads were united nodding in in hip-hop cadence. Halfway through the song, the young man with me asked me “who’s that?”, referring to the music. I was excited to share some pop culture that he apparently did not know, but I downplayed my eager emotions and kept it a simple, “that’s Lecrae.” The boy said, ” well he wack, but the beat good though.”
I almost took his comment personal as I have a lofty opinion of my taste in music until I realized something. He was nodding along, but he either did not relate to the music or didn’t care for the substance found in the lyrics.
In that moment, that young man represented the epitome of the younger generation of music experience: Don’t educate them with music, or encourage them to be better or be vulnerable, no just keep the party going, the beat going, the sex, money, and drugs going so I can live the fantasy the artist rapping with lesser substance is actually living.
This is the mindset when adolescents contempt knowledge as W-A-C-K! A generation living with hardened hearts guided by futile thinking. I proceeded to break down the lyrics, trying to display the redemptive message of why Lecrae claimed that being broke made him rich. Not rich like Forbes list, but rich in your soul, in the person you are and how you value life and people, but I guess that’s considered …wack.