Rap music has been blamed for a number of social problems including, but not limited to: violence in the inner city, degradation ofwomen, lack of musicianship in pop music, declining television ratings for the NBA and white people awkwardly adopting catchphrases such as “crunky” and “fo’ shizzle.”
(While not a social problem per se, rap music also led to the creation of Snow’s 1993 hit single “Informer,” the single worst song ever to be played regularly at my monthly junior high school dances.)
But there is one social problem rap music actually might help solve: school bullies.
Just ask DeAngelo Bailey, a Michigan sanitation worker who used to beat up a scrawny kid named Marshall back in middle school. Little did he know that Marshall would grow up to become one of the biggest music stars in the world, Eminem.
If Bailey forgot about Marshall after graduation, Marshall made sure to tell the world that he hadn’t forgotten about Bailey.
“I was harassed daily by this fat kid named DeAngelo Bailey/An eighth-grader who acted obnoxious, cause his father boxes/So every day he’d shove me into the lockers,” Eminem recalls in the song “Brain Damage” from his 1999 debut CD, “The Slim Shady LP.”
“And he had me in the position to beat me into submission/He banged my head against the urinal until he broke my nose/Soaked my clothes in blood, grabbed me and choked my throat.”
Talk about living the ultimate dream of every kid suffering from constant toilet-dunking and gravity-checking at the hands of teenaged goons.Eminem, a scrawny kid no more, finally scored his own beatdown.
Bailey didn’t like that so he took Eminem to court. Not so fast, said a county judge, who ruled in 2003 that Bailey couldn’t sue because the song’s lyrical exaggerations (a.k.a. that part about the bloody urinal) aren’t meant to be taken literally. Michigan’s state appeals court upheld the decision Monday.
(In her explanation of the original ruling, Circuit Judge Deborah Servitto actually wrote her own rap. “The lyrics are stories no one would take as fact/they’re an exaggeration of a childish act/it is therefore the court’s ultimate position/that Eminem is entitled to summary deposition.” If Servitto has kids, they won’t admit it.)
Once seen as a wedgie-happy rite of passage weak kids had to silently endure, school bullies finally were seen as the terrorists they are after two tormented nerds named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., six years agoWednesday.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, about 160,000 kids miss school every day for fear of being bullied. Out of 37 deadly incidents that have happened in schools across the country, the only common factorwas that the killers w ere victims of constant teasing, a Miami-Dade County grand jury concluded last year. The recent school shooting in Red Lake Reserve, Minn., is the latest example of a lonely kid being pushed too far.
Eminem proves there are better ways of getting revenge. Geeks almost always come out ahead in the long run, while bullies peak early and slip into a steady decline that lasts for decades. Little Marshall’s pain was relatively short term; rap fans will be jamming to “Brain Damage” for years to come.
Steven Hyden writes about life from a twentysomething perspective every Friday. He can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 296, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Steven Hyden column, wisinfo.com