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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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The Wisdom Of Wahlberg
Friday, March 16, 2007

The other day I was watching E!, as I am prone to do, and I caught a piece on Mark Wahlberg where they questioned whether or not he’d return to rap. I found it to be an odd subject to ask about being that he’s an incredibly talented actor and his skills as an emcee were always somewhere in the middle of the road. The question, however, brought out a very interesting comment from the former Boston street kid who’s been arrested twenty some times. He noted that during his short-lived rap career he specifically stayed away from the negativity of his past, the fighting, the jail time, etc., saying that he wasn’t going to use it as a way to gain some sort of street cred. He added that going to jail isn’t something anybody should be proud of and if anything his past is a cautionary tale. This, my friends, is truly keeping it real. So why can’t more artists by like the former Marky Mark?

Yeah, I know, when I first heard “Good Vibrations” I didn’t think I’d ever ask for more artists to be like Mark Wahlberg either, but with his recent comments it’s clear that while I don’t suggest he pick up the mic again, it would be great if some of the younger artists gave him a few minutes of their time and listened up. Wahlberg isn’t the first person I’ve heard express these kinds of feelings regarding prison. In fact, most artists I speak with that have done any kind of jail time are quick to say it’s hell and they never plan on going back. Just the other day I had an interview with The Diplomats’ Freekey Zekey, who came home this past November after doing a nearly three year bid, and he noted “that hoosegow, that jail, is no joke. That’s my word. I don’t want to go there ever times a billion trillion evers again. We be in there like let me outta here please!” What does this tell us about the artists who brag about doing a bid? Well, either they’re idiots or they’re lying.

Wahlberg admits that he could have used his youth experiences as a way to gain street cred, but he didn’t. He also moved on to modeling and acting very quickly. So do the artists who want to stay rappers need to leverage any violent or negative aspects of their pasts to stick around? I’m going to have to lean towards "no." If these emcees want to use their pasts as a way to warn others not to go that route it’s one thing, but the braggadocio about a subject that, as Wahlberg puts it, is nothing to be proud of, seems not only ridiculous, but extremely counterproductive.

When the majority of emcees getting airplay are bragging that they went to jail or were shot it almost makes it seem like it’s a requirement to be an emcee. I remember speaking with Lloyd Banks about this and he kind of joked that being shot was like an entry pass. That’s only true if you let it be true. Like I said, there are two ways to talk about going to jail, or being shot, you can either tell people how it happened and how to stay away from such situations, or you can wear it like a badge, like some sort of a moron. Wear it as a badge and there will be plenty of people looking to pin some extra merits on you. Clearly you liked getting shot, clearly you liked getting in trouble and going to jail, or else you wouldn’t speak so highly and boastful about it. Act a certain way and a certain crowd will follow you, and I’m not talking about your fan base.

There will always be negativity in the world, and a lot of rappers have checkered pasts due to the areas they came from, but that doesn’t mean we have to make sure we stay associated with such negativity. Even those who can’t necessarily get away from such circumstances should at least be able to grow up and better themselves despite them.

Mark Wahlberg will never be confused with Rakim or KRS-One, but that doesn’t mean his points aren’t valid and that he can’t make a positive contribution to the Hip-Hop community. Hopefully a few influential people heard his interview on E!. It would be nice to hear him speak at a Hip-Hop Summit sometime and spread some knowledge on a topic that he, ironically, knows a lot more about than most of the so-called thug rappers do.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:59 AM  
2 Comments:
  • At 5:36 PM, Blogger Chaz said…

    Marky Mark already made his positive contribution to Hip-Hop through the platform of the greatest video game system of all time: Sega CD.

    Paving the way for Kris Kross, C+C Music Factory and INXS, Mark Wahlberg starred in "Make My Video: Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch," a game where you had to please your parents, gym teacher, and sister by editing the new Marky Mark video through footage of the man and some of the most boring stock footage you've ever seen.

    I am proud to say that I own this game, and thus, do not fear death.

    And if you think THAT'S positive, Funky Bunch member "Hector the Booty Inspector" was one of the fireman who rescued three people from the collasping world trade center during 9/11.

    The Funky Bunch are the greatest human beings to ever live.

     
  • At 4:53 PM, Blogger Shacoria Robinson said…

    I love Mark Wahlberg. He's a lot wiser than people will ever give him credit for which is sad, but I see that he has a good heart.

     
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