With their thuggish odes to sex and violence, rappers often get a bad...rap.
But Chicago Public Schools think at least one Chi-born lyricist, Jeremih, is a good enough role model to help get kids back to school. In cahoots with CPS' back-to-school campaign, Jeremih -- born Jeremih Felton -- will use his Twitter account to encourage his 65,000 followers to return to their classrooms this fall.
"[H]e’s a great role model for our kids," CPS CEO Ron Huberman told the Sun-Times. "He graduated from high school. He went on to school for engineering. He's staying in school. That's the message. This is part of what will be a continuing strategy to reach kids the way they communicate with each other."
But Jeremih's debut single has rubbed some people the wrong way ... because it's about rubbing people the right way.
His song "Birthday Sex" is about a young man who can't afford a glamorous birthday gift for his girlfriend, so instead he offers her sex. The song includes raunchy lyrics like "Get ready for action / Don't be astounded / We switchin' positions / You feel surrounded / Tell me where you want your gift, girl" and "Don't need candles or cake / Just need your body to make good Birthday Sex."
"Birthday Sex" peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. As Stephen Colbert noted on his show The Colbert Report, "The easiest way to make a song popular is to make the title two things everyone loves, in this case birthday and sex. It could have easily been titled Ferrari Snow Day or Cupcake Reacharound."
But some worry that the Board of Education's choice of spokesman sends a mixed message to students.
"He had 70 million hits on his MySpace page. For us to be naïve and believe that this is not what our students are listening to would be not living in the world where our students are," Huberman said.
But if it takes a song about sex to get kids back to book learnin', then sing on.
Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, listens to both gospel and rap.