I’m down to mentor Kodak Black. I won’t even charge what other accredited professionals would charge to do the job, even though I’m definitely a highly accredited professional. They could pay me in Haitian spaghetti and loose ones, and I’d still come along for the ride.
Why? Because I’m personally invested in the growth and success of a young brother known to the world as Kodak Black. He used to be a little kid from the hood in Pompano they called Black, but now he’s a famous rapper named after a camera. He paints pictures of what poverty does to people, and yet he only knows it because he’s lived it.
And there’s a million cameras on him now, scrutinizing his every move and misstep. That’s a lotta pressure for a 19 year old from the hood! At 19, I was so irresponsible I ended up homeless. Kodak Black is far from homeless. But now I’ve gotta save him from a fate worse than that.
You can tell he comes from some wild ignorant f*ckery, just by the way he talks. But you can tell he’s trying his damndest to be positive. Hell, he helped make it cool for young Black men to smile more, cause this little dude was always cheesing. Sure, he was showing off a mouth fulla gold teeth, but you would smile too if your mouth was a light source. And he didn’t want to promote violence or selling drugs in his music, even though his community was flooded with those realities. He never left the streets alone, because – where would he go? This dude is young, remember. And he wasn’t bought and paid for by a big label, so he’s mostly speaking from his own mind and heart when he raps – for better or worse. And since he’s young, that means he’s prone to saying a lot of bobo shit. So be it. He’s trying to do good.
How’d he raise himself up out of the mud that keeps so many of us stuck? He read one of my books. In a video interview, he explains that How to Hustle and Win (which I released in 2008) was his favorite book, and had given him so much game on life that he got hype just talking about it. That’s actually how I found out about him. I was ready to hear what he’d do next. The next thing I heard, he was f*ckin up. Dammit man. I thought they was tryna do him like they did Future for promoting my books, but that’s another story. Then I realized he’s just a teenager. And as he’s said, “If I could change I swear I would… I tried everything but I’m just so hood.” That’s called PTSD, you know. That means he’s stuck in a cycle of self-destruction he’s having a hard time escaping. That’s real. And nearly as common as the corruption in our upper class!
So I’m glad he’s getting another chance. Young Black and brown men deserve several. As many as possible. Why? Because the odds were stacked against them. We know this because we know the statistics and the reasons behind them. But how does this knowledge affect our consciousness and ultimately our conscience? Do we soften our hearts towards our troubled youth or do we scorn them and condemn them to their graves and their cells?
I’d rather do like the Honorable Elijah Muhammad did, taking a chance on young thugs with names like Detroit Red.
I want to help this young man evolve the same way we’ve all seen Gucci do. Guwop read my books in prison and came home so renewed they thought he’d been genetically modified!
That’s a beautiful transformation, but Gucci was grown enough to own his mistakes and grow off em.
Kodak Black is, again, a teenager. He’s that kid who gets kicked outta anger management class for burping repeatedly (this really happened). Except he’s also got a bestselling album out. So he won’t listen to anybody, you’d think. The judge said he couldn’t even do group therapy anymore. He’s gotta sit down, one on one, with someone who can take all that mud, and grow something beautiful in it. That’s what I do.
Could y’all let the people at Atlantic Records know that they need me to finish teaching him the lessons I couldn’t break down in 2008 when I wrote How to Hustle and Win – things like how to be a better man, a better father and partner, and a responsible business owner, not to mention being strategic with your fame once you have it! – those are all the things I hadn’t done then.
After all, I had to grow too. How to Hustle and Win is an amazing tool for anyone who hasn’t woken up to their purpose yet, but there’s so much more I’ve learned since losing my wife and business partner Mecca Wise to cancer in 2014.
Raising our two daughters alone really grew me up. While treating my own grief and depression, I had to ensure that our daughters could still succeed. So I had to undo so many of my faulty ideas about women and about life in general. I had to turn every nightmare into a dream of something more beautiful. Trust me, there were a lot of nightmares along this road. And I’ve become a monster a few times along the way, so I won’t be the holy saint and scholar judging someone who struggles with self-esteem and validation as if I’ve never been there. I’ve been through more drama and trauma than a single mother in a Lifetime movie. And it made a real man outta me, I swear. One of our princesses is an adult now, which got me feeling like an elder at 36.
It’s been a long and turbulent road since I wrote the books that inspired Kodak Black, Future, and Gucci, but it’s made a better man outta me. I’ve evolved from my setbacks as I see them evolving from theirs. Struggle and tragedy can make better people outta anyone, so long as they get the right lessons and follow up after. Tell Kodak Black’s team I’m here for him.