Highland, Michigan is a poverty and drug stricken town with an unemployment rate nearly triple the national average at 24%. But that hasn’t stopped one youth rap group from working tirelessly to ensure they do not become a statistic.
“Now, let me take you to the next story. This is happening in one of the worst parts of Detroit, where unemployment is % and [there are] drugs, violence, rape, murder,” Glenn said on radio this morning. “There is a school there that has hired this music teacher… [and] he has put together a rap group. These kids are, I think, anywhere from seven to teenagers. They have put out an album that is starting to chart on iTunes. And I want you to hear what these kids are now saying about growing up in Detroit, where it's nothing but poverty and drugs.”
The group, known as Beasts of Beat, was formed at Northpointe Academy, where a 25-year-old music teacher, Joe “Mr. V” Vercellino, is changing trying his best to change the lives of his students. He was inspired to create the group, which is not based on talent but rather personal strengths and weaknesses, after seeing the film Moneyball.
“The Beast of the Beat is really not as much about creating rap stars as it is about creating men,” he said.
In a video report from WJBK-TV, some of the members of the group offer some incredible insight into what it has been like growing up in poverty and how every kid still has a chance.
“I was struck by a couple of things,” Glenn said. “One. Here's a white teacher in a really horrible area of Detroit doing good things. Hmmm. That doesn't seem to fit anybody's agenda now, does it? Here are a bunch of kids that have said, ‘It's a choice. It's a choice.’ Hmmm. That doesn't fit any ones agenda. Those two things don't fit anybody's agenda, but they are true. And when you watch them… you know it's true. And it just reverberates inside of you when you are watching.”
“Now, the other thing that struck me was when the teacher [talked about] watching ‘Moneyball’… This is what I've been talking to you about recently,” Glenn continued. “I don't know what you are supposed to do. I don't know what you are born to do. It doesn't take uniting with me or uniting someplace else. It doesn't take that. t means stand where you are supposed to stand. Do exactly what you are supposed to do. Don't listen to anybody telling you that you are crazy, that it can't be done. That's what it's going to take. We are Moneyball.”
Beasts of the Beat may be a small example of the incredible things that can happen when people realize their potential, but Glenn explained the concept can extend to a national level.
“Fixing this is impossible, right? We're all the little guys. But if every one does exactly what they are supposed to do, we win,” Glenn concluded. “Don't let anybody convince you differently. Don't let anybody tell you differently. There is power in words. There is power in ideas. Real power. The right words lift up. The wrong words destroy you.”