Rapper's new book is a fond embrace of crime, ignorance

August 22, 2005|By GREGORY KANE

BOY, AM I mad at "Fiddy."

"Fiddy," for those of you not familiar with the world of rap, is a nickname for rapper 50 Cent, who was born Curtis James Jackson III on July 6, 1975, in the Queens borough of New York City.

That information comes from page 7 of From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon a Time in Southside Queens, Fiddy's autobiography. Cornell Dews, a teacher at Furman Templeton Elementary School who keeps me abreast of what's happening in the world of rap and hip-hop, told me a couple of weeks ago that Fiddy's autobiography had hit bookstores.

Whether he told me as a warning or an F.Y.I. - or a little of both - isn't clear. But what is clear is that I'm mad at Fiddy for what he wrote in the prologue of his autobiography.

Fiddy was a drug dealer before he got lucky and hit it big in the rap game. Here's his assessment of street-level drug dealers, which we must assume included him when he was slinging.

"He's trying to get rich," Fiddy says of the drug dealer. "Just like that guy punching a clock, that old man driving a cab, the kid going to college to get his degree, the girl waiting tables at the restaurant."

Excuse me? Drug dealers are the same as law-abiding, hardworking citizens or college students studying eight to 10 hours a day to get a degree?

According to Fiddy, there's no difference. Allow me to enlighten the lad.

Before working at The Sun, I was a supervisor of a patient escort department at Sinai Hospital here in Baltimore. I supervised 25 to 30 folks who did, indeed, punch a clock.

They worked hard. Some went above and beyond the call of duty. When I needed someone to come in early or stay late to fill in for a co-worker who was sick or on vacation, they were there. When I needed someone to work overtime, they answered the call.

Some went to school at night to get themselves better jobs. They were some of the finest people I've had the privilege of knowing. So you might understand why I'm a bit miffed that some guy who used to be a penny-ante, low-level drug dealer who scorned honest work and education places himself in the same category as these folks. It's downright insulting.

But that's only one reason I'm mad at Fiddy. The other concerns one Tauris Johnson. The Curtis James Jacksons of the country, in their zeal to justify, excuse or explain away their criminality, never mention the Tauris Johnsons who are their victims.

Tauris was only 10 years old that day in 1993 when he was playing football with other boys in his East Baltimore neighborhood. Shooting between two rival drug gangs broke out. Tauris was hit in the head and died about eight hours later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The leader of one of those drug gangs - and this shouldn't be lost on Fiddy - was from New York. The incident happened about the same time that Fiddy was doing his own drug dealing in Queens.

This, then, is the consequence of what Fiddy said at one time was his "business" - dead bodies of children caught in the crossfire of drug gangs. Add to that senior citizens who feel like prisoners in their own homes because of drug dealers and a reign of terror against poor urban blacks surpassed only by the Ku Klux Klan and you get some sense of the scope of those consequences.

Does Fiddy, on any page of his autobiography, admit to culpability in those deaths or that reign of terror?

Do dead dogs play fetch?

Fiddy instead talks about the cars he bought with his drug money, about how they gave him a certain status in the 'hood. He talks about the sneakers he bought, and about how he would only attend school to show off his new clothes. But confess to the misery he and other street-level drug dealing "businessmen" brought to poor communities across the nation?

Heaven forfend.

Instead, we get these pearls of straight-outta-the-'hood wisdom:

"I knew all the math I needed to know after I divided my first brick [of cocaine]."

"When I see myself on the cover of a magazine and it says something like, `Why He's Your Favorite Gangsta,' or `The Hunted Man,' or some other [stuff], I eat that [stuff] up."

"A lot of times, you watch the same films over and over again to remind you of your code. You watch Scarface, you watch Casino, you watch gangster films a lot in the 'hood. I think that inspires you to bust a head or to pull your pistol out when the time comes."

Quotes like this leave me wondering why author Bernard Goldberg chose Ludacris and Eminem as the only rappers on his list of 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. Ludacris and Eminem don't take themselves as seriously as their critics do.

Fiddy does. And that's scary.

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