It's been about 40 years since the first hip hop records came out, and now rap music is American mainstream. Today's Best of Dayton Youth Radio story was produced by Demetrius Oglesby in 2017 who says he was an academic scholar until he got to high school and became infatuated with Hip-Hop. When we met Demetrius during his senior year of high school, his grades and his household chores had taken a backseat to his dreams of becoming a rap music star.
I have a passion for rap music, and I just can't help it. Every day all I do is sit on my laptop in this freezing cold basement and come up with new music. I open up Adobe Audition on my laptop, and I get straight to it.
It’s not anything special, really. It’s literally just a laptop and a mic I found online. No music stands either, just a tall speaker the mic sits on top of and my laptop that sits on a bar we have in a basement.
Music, music. Music. It's all I ever think about, which is why I always forget stuff. I'll write a new song and forget I had homework. But that song was dope though, so it was worth it. Well, not really, but that's just how my mind works.
I know my mom is disappointed in me. I remember one time while I was in the basement, she told me something like “Instead of being down in the basement rapping, you need to be washing these dishes because it’s dish day. You need to do your dishes.”
I hate to hear my teachers and my mom tell me, "Meech, you better than this, step your game up." It's embarrassing because people have high hopes for me and I'm just letting them down.
When my grades started failing, I sought the advice of friend and fellow rapper Lucian. He graduated the year before with straight A's and is now in college. I asked him how he did that.
"To be honest, I always put school first," said Lucian. "Just to show it was possible at the same time. You can chase your dream and do good in school. It's basically like bragging rights in a way. Like, oh yeah, he dropped this nice mixtape, it’s a nice song, but he's doing his thing in school too."
"I encourage you to do whatever you desire, but just know that in life, you know, nothing is gonna be free. You can't just live with people for free," says my mom, Dorian McKee. She's the best mom in the world.
I asked her how she felt when my grades started dropping.
"I felt like you need to get woke," she said. "This is your last year of school, and you need to make it."
Then I asked her how she felt about my talent.
"Well, I actually think you're great. I mean, literally, since you was a baby, you loved to hear hear music," she said. "And as you got older, you sang and you danced. Then you loved rap music as well. And your father rapped and sang. It was just a blessing."
She really is very proud of me. She thinks that I should keep rapping because it's something that I'm very good at. But at the same time, I should focus in school and just make sure that things get done. Now, from Lucian's point of view, I basically look at it as he's the leading example to show that if you focus in school, you can still follow your dreams as well.
This story originally aired in 2017. Demetrius did graduate from Ponitz Career Technology Center, and is now finding a balance between his college courses and his music career. Hear Demetrius' music here. Special Thanks to Ponitz Radio media arts instructor Joanne Viskup. Learn more at the school's website: http://ponitzctc.org/ Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, Ohio Arts Council and the Vectren Foundation.
This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.