Hip Hop Tried 2 Kill Me
Posted Nov 16 2008
Then again, this is more of a coming of age tale rather than a straight hip-hop story. Stylistically, Fleetwood’s style is quite informal and is written as if he was speaking, ya feel me? Also, there are quite a few grammatical errors. This proved to be distracting at first, but once I got past that I was intrigued by his tale, particularly his work ethic and desire to learn. Bouncing between the Bay Area, North Carolina, Minneapolis, and various other spots, I had nothing but respect for him as he took on construction jobs in New Mexico and other states, earning money and picking up skills to survive, as well as working on his rap career and even hosting his own television show. He developed friendships and relationships with people from a variety of backgrounds, including Mexicans and poor Whites, while also taking college classes. His networking skills are apparent and include him having a college professor reviewing a recording contract that he was offered. From challenging stereotypes about racial tension to Black males content in their ignorance, Fleetwood is far from a caricature.
Without a doubt, Fleetwood’s had his share of struggles and his efforts to overcome the temptations and obstacles of the streets is honorable. Reading about his battles with these temptations and obstacles, however, can be difficult to read. For one, by his own admission he makes many bone-headed mistakes, repeatedly landing him in jail. Besides dabbling in theft and pimping, he was locked up multiple times for drug-related offenses, in spite of support and advice from friends and family to make better choices. Fleetwood makes several other poor decisions, including “borrowing” a car for several weeks and unwittingly transporting a minor across state lines. At some points, all you can do is shake your head. He admits that he has good people in his life, yet has to learn the hard way. But as draining as it is to read about this self-destructive behavior, throughout his telling Fleetwood brings out his own humanity as he admits to disrespecting the memory of his mother and getting out of pimping as he wouldn’t want someone doing that to his sisters. He rationalizes some of his other activities, yet ultimately takes responsibility for his own actions. Now he’s known throughout the country, particularly the Bay Area for his positive efforts to improve the lives of youth and the formerly incarcerated, working with organizations such as United Playaz.
While reading this, two things ultimately stood out to me. One, Fleetwood’s apparent level of depression, which came out in some of the aforementioned behaviors, as well as drinking, and nasty attitudes towards people. Reading through his book made me think of the high level of depression in urban communities, which is generally not acknowledged. Two, like many others, Fleetwood is intelligent, a quick learner, and a hard worker, but has to fight for even basic opportunities. In my own work, I run into too many who have an unearned sense of entitlement. Someone as hungry as him would flourish in some of the circles I’ve operated in. But as possible testament to the type of person he is, he’s creating his own opportunities, including this book. There’s more work and self development that needs to done (I wonder about his views on women), but we’re all constantly growing. As I did at first, it’s easy to judge guys like Fleetwood, but I’m glad I took the time to hear his story.
For more info, check out http://www.myspace.com/Fleetwood189