The Rite of Passage in L.A.

Sometimes poverty and addiction is all you see,

Is this the world I left behind to you,

Or is this what was left behind to me?

What I know is I hurt with you when you weep,

Broken promises that left you, scars we both keep.

Keep ya head up, they told me

Now it’s your turn.

Is that destiny?

You see you yourself are not a broken promise, though,

Homie.

But you have to make your way through brokenness,

To know

What’s truly free.

You’ll be free.

J.T.

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What a Ride, Los Angeles; Our Final Flyer for BTS 2 is Now Live

It’s going to be a show like no other that day in Los Angeles. I sure hope you’ve saved the date! August 24th, 2019 from 4 – 8 PM.

J.T.

Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party is about Fulfilling a Need, Lunging Forward

It’s exactly two weeks from now that on August 24th, 2019, just after 8:00 PM, a group of twenty-somethings and I will be concluding a special event known as the 2nd Annual Back to School Party at El Gran Burrito in Los Angeles.

It’s going to be a small gathering of people and families in the little vicinity of Los Angeles I call home, but one which will draw many eyes for days after it’s over for being a  demonstration of how to move and shake quickly for communities to educate and organize themselves. I’ve yet to fully come to terms with what the implications may be for my ole neighborhood afterwards, but perhaps I’m not supposed to. Perhaps I’m just supposed to believe, or keep believing, because that’s what so much of this has already been: just belief.

When I stop to think about why this is, however, or just how it is that we got here, how we got ‘so deep in’ to holding events like this for people–particularly youth and families–I have to pause.

My mind thinks back to Pasadena, and I remember the first and only Model United Nations High School conference that I put together at Pasadena City College for Pasadena’s high school students as the President of the Model UN club at the college. It was 2012, and I was 21 years old.

I remember being quite disturbed on the morning of the event, particularly by the stillness of everything, the way it seemed to be just a typical day. It was not. For me personally, the day of that High School Model UN conference was a day I had been waiting and planning for months ahead of time. It was another community gathering: a day when young people were to think critically about the world beyond them in a simulated meeting of nations.

Then, in perfectly ironic fashion, on the morning of the event, when there was supposed to be a microphone and speakers setup for my team and I at the college’s amphitheater, where we’d start our conference, there they were: missing in action, that is.

I had to scramble, and I made my way to the main office. I needed to call the whole world at the college, or whoever it needed to be, to let them know that in case they had forgotten, we’d made an agreement to set up this sound system for our conference to take place.

Finally, I was told by the folks at the main office that the equipment would be arriving. But then, my phone rang.

It was time to greet the students and everyone else who came to participate with a commencement speech. One of my fellow-team members asked if I’d prefer that he give the opening speech instead since we were running late due to the missing sound system.

But there was no chance on earth I would let someone else address the audience in my place. I was the president of the club. And I had spent so long planning this conference for the students that they had to wait. And I to run. So I sprang back across campus in my suit and bow-tie to make the opening speech.

I remember that it started to sprinkle, which made it so that I needed to be even quicker if I wanted to pull it off. In Los Angeles everyone is afraid of a little rain. In Pasadena, we were too.

I lunged forward. When finally I got to the amphitheater, I saw them. A whole swath of heads above shoulders huddled together, just waiting to see what would happen next. Three different high schools at Pasadena City College for the day.

How could a part of me not be afraid then; even if I had something to say, how could I know if they’d hear me?

But the rest of me, the one that would take over, was simply going to finish the job I set out to do.

As I stood before the audience then–all the conference’s high school participants as well as their teachers–looked at me, and I was ready to speak to every one of them; whether they were young or senior citizens, black or white, and regardless of where they came from, I was convinced in my heart that I had something meaningful to say to all.

And I addressed them as their host.

It would turn out to be a beautiful conference. The best High School Model UN conference in five years of being held at PCC.

As I recall that day, I’m nearly set on it as the first occasion or moment in which I showed true love for speaking to the world with some kind of speech.

But then, how can I forget the marches for Immigrant Rights in 2006, through the streets of Los Angeles?

In a world far removed from collegial Pasadena, I was 15 years old, standing at the intersection of Sunset boulevard and Highland avenue when a reporter from the local news approached a group of my peers and I with questions about why we were out of class that day, or why we had walked out. I remember my classmates calling out to me and finding me among the crowd. They wanted me to speak with the reporters.

I didn’t quite know how they all reasoned this out, but what I did know is that I wouldn’t refuse their request. Not with all the emotions on that day, which was the first of three days of marching through Los Angeles and cities all over America in solidarity with immigrants.

I answered the reporters’ questions then, only half-knowing what I was doing as I explained to the woman and her cameraman that marching for immigrant rights was about showing deep love for immigrant people and culture despite any legislation to the contrary–it was House Resolution 4437, or a bill set out to erase immigrants by way of extinction–that spurred us into action. When the reporter asked if I had any last words to say, I remember plucking, from somewhere out of the sky, the most energizing phrase I could recall at the moment:

“Que viva la raza!”

My classmates roared just after me, shouting out for themselves, but all at once in a unity that would reverberate with me always:

“Que viva la raza!” they said.

I wouldn’t even see the news clip until some seven years later. But it spoke. I was ready to speak up. I wanted to. My community at the time could see it. A lifetime later, I can see it now too.

Today, on the brink of the Second Annual Back to School Party in East Hollywood, I’m prepared to speak with whoever I can and must once again.

But I’ve already traveled far and wide for this event, raised my chin up high despite exhaustion from a world of other commitments, and stood tall to speak despite any air of hostility or indifference that could be thrown my way as another advocate haranguing leaders or their representatives to “do the right thing.” In any case, each time I’ve had the chance, I’ve advocated fiercely for my cause.

I’ve been brave, even when it wasn’t expected of me. And when no one asked it of me. But I’ve known for a long time I would have to be brave, just in case. My community taught me that. With BTS 2, I haven’t forgotten for one second. We will continue lunging forward.

J.T.

BONUS: Back to School 2018 RECAP

It’s my pleasure to share this special recap vid with my community, both in and beyond Los Angeles. Please check it out as time permits, and tell a friend! We’re going to as much support as we can get for BTS 2 in East Hollywood, taking place again at El Gran Burrito this upcoming Saturday, August 24th, 2019!

J.T.

5 Tips for When 4th of July Sucks

So it’s supposed to be the big day. The day that everybody goes outside and watches fireworks blazing across The City. It’s also supposed to be the day of the barbecue. From what you’ve seen and heard, the way it’s supposed to be is that your family is supposed to get together, and you’re all supposed to have lots of food over the grill and charcoal, some water balloons, maybe even a water gun or two, and the loudest, most rambunctious fireworks in the world.

But what if you don’t have any of that? Or what if you’re actually totally ‘over’ the 4th of July before the first grill is even lit?

When I was a Young in Los Angeles, 4th of July was more often than not a day when it seemed like everyone except my family and I could enjoy the time. There was never much money for fireworks, and ever since my brother and I were toddlers, mom had completely banned any water guns for us to play with. This left just water balloons, but then, there were only so many kids who still wanted to chuck water balloons at each other as teens; everyone was more interested in the crackle and spark of fireworks. This left my brother and I to mostly just watch as other kids got to light up their explosions.

But now, maybe because you’re luckier, I’ve got 5 tips for you to get through the 4th of July when it’s dragging that my bro and I would have appreciated when we were in your shoes!

1. Go outside because it’s fresher. Even if it’s just to go to the store to get some milk and cookies, that still counts as getting ‘outta the house. You’ll notice the slower pace of the city during a holiday like the 4th. In L.A., most of the roads tend to quiet down some, which relaxes the vibe of the whole place. And if you and your folks can hop on a bus or rail line to get out somewhere farther like the Santa Monica Pier or Elysian Park, the city will feel even more fresh for you to sift through. You need this!

2. Make your own cheeseburger. I’ve got a secret for you: with just a little over five dollars, you can purchase a pound of ground beef and a bag of burger buns. Throw some salt and seasoning on the beef, grill it easy on the oil, warm the buns, then add onions, lettuce, and a slice of tomato, avocado or whatever other ingredients your creativity calls for. Your burgers won’t taste like the kind you’re used to getting, but they’ll be better because they’ll be made by your own doing. Your own personal barbecue!

3. Take a nap. If you’re able to, try to take a short nap, preferably during daylight since the evening will be locked in explosive sounds at least until midnight. A nap also works well with Item 2 on our list, since both the beach and the park can serve as key locations to catch a few Zzzzs. You need this!

4. Start your podcast for the Jimbo Times Hoodie Challenge. Err, I mean, can you blame me for trying to motivate you into some action? Now’s as good a time as ever! At least to get started on the outline, for crying out loud! You realize you’re going to need a new hoodie after summer, right?!

5. Tell mom or dad you love them, then run like they’re zombies. Continue running. What I mean is, you need to take a jog! Why doesn’t anyone believe me on this? A light jog is good for your mind and body! It helps expel the pressure points, or the places where your body accumulates stress!

Now, is this a bulletproof list of stuff to help you get through the day? Nope. It’s just a start. Most importantly, what you have to know is this: if the day ends up dragging for you no matter what, you’re not alone. It happens. And quite a lot at that as you come to terms with reality. But in this case, you might as well give at least one of the items here a shot just to see if it helps. At day’s end, it’s still never too late to make the day count in your own way, and of course you can do it. Jimbo Times believes in you!

J.T.

Secret Agent: How to Discover Your Neighborhood in Los Angeles

Kev with the new Los Cuentos Black & Gold Cap; Summer 2019

So it’s the second week of summer and you read How to Beat Summer 2019 Parts I III, 10 Ways Not to Beat Summer 2019, and even How to Outline Summer 2019, but you’re still not quite sure what to do with all this newfound time on your hands.

In this case, you’re likely making it just a tad more complicated than it needs to be (I know from experience). But with this blog, we’re going to give it one more shot in a last-minute challenge for you.

The only requirements for this challenge are a few hours of time on your hands, permission to go out for a few of those hours, and either a parent, friend, sibling or pet turtle to accompany you. Okay, maybe not the pet turtle. Sorry pet!

Ready? You’re now officially a secret agent going on an adventure. Your mission: to explore the second most populous city in the world and bring some of its top secrets back to headquarters. Your key ‘weapons’ for the mission are: walking shoes, a smart-phone, a Los Cuentos hat, and a water bottle.

There are also no cars allowed for the assignment. Metro buses and rail-lines only.

Ready to find out where you’re going? You will choose one of the following places for this mission:

  1. Little Tokyo
  2. Plazita Olvera
  3. Koreatown

In true secret-agent fashion, you’re not visiting these places just to ‘have fun.’ You’re going to ‘excavate’ them for some classified info like a world class spy. Sure, you can go with your people, get some ice cream at the stores, and check out the stuff on sale like a lookie-loo. But the real purpose of your visit to these other places will be to find out the following:

I. Where is ‘the heart’ of the neighborhood? (As in, where is the public square, or main area? What kind of businesses are there? Is there any kind of art you see there?)

II. How does it differ from your side of town? (What kind of people are there? How many languages do you hear spoken? And what can you tell about the ‘other’ kids at this other part of town?)

III. How might your neighborhood ‘be’ more like this one? (Could there be a different Metro Station to make it easier to get to your side of L.A, like with these other neighborhoods? If you could choose the stores you’d have in your neighborhood’s main area, what would they sell? And apart from the stores, where would the kids in your neighborhood hang out? Would they have their own main area too, or public square?)

That’s it! It’s true that these are quite a few different questions to remember during your visit to the assignment, but we both know you can glance at this blog while you’re out there on assignment.

We also both know that this is a mission you can definitely accomplish in three to four hours. Metro’s lines were made for you to use for exactly this kind of challenge, just as these ‘other’ places were made for you to visit and learn about.

At the end of the assignment, you’ll feel accomplished for learning about a new part of Los Angeles for yourself, send me the answers to your questions for a top-secret review, and receive a brief follow-up mission, if you so choose.

So, what are you waiting for? Give this last-minute challenge a shot and get out there, young storyteller. Your city is counting on you!

J.T.

10 Ways Not to Beat Summer 2019

Jer knows what's up this Summer 2019, with his J.T. gear on point
Jer knows how to beat Summer 2019; with J.T. gear on point

 

    1. Stay home all day playing Fortnite. Because let’s be frank: if you spend your entire summer just wriggling your thumbs to the Fornite Gods you’ll lose extraordinary amounts of sleep and simply age faster, except not in the cool way, but in the way where you end up looking like Yoda from Star Wars for lack of enough sunlight and oxygen.
    2. Stay home all day watching Netflix. Face it. No matter how chill it is to stay planted on your couch watching re-runs of On My Block, the fact is that there’s a real block out in L.A. that only you can tell great stories about. Does this mean that you’ve got to write out your own magnum opus instead of watching someone else’s? No, but it does mean that getting started on it is probably a good idea.
    3. Stay home all day waiting for ______ to get home to take you out. Whether we’re talking about parents, big brothers, sisters, or whoever, it’s fundamental for you to understand that 99.9% of the people around you have their own lives to lead and take care of. This means that depending solely on another person to show you a good time is 1: Going to require lots of waiting, and 2: Not going to work out most of the time.
    4. Don’t visit your local public library. Who needs books, right? Books are for school! And school is OUT. So what does the library matter? Oh, idunno. I guess it’s just there to provide you with free air conditioning, peace and quiet, and time, all of which are key for you to develop the outline of your own On the Block. But wait, that’s what you’re NOT trying to do, right? You’re NOT trying to create your own elaborate stories, but hoping to leave it for others to do, right? (WRONG)
    5. Eat lots of McDonald’s and other fast food. Did you know that in a single day the average McDonald’s in your vicinity takes home nearly $7,500, or about 75% of what the state of California spends on educating just one student in a single school-year? How much do you take home, after your 3rd happy meal for the week? You take home a +$21.00 Loss, my friend, not including gas. We can do better!
    6. Drink lots of soda and consume endless amounts of Takis. Look, I get it. Often when you’re Young, you’ve got maybe just five dollars in your pocket. Once you get to the market, you feel the only things you can get with that are a bag of Takis, chewing gum, and a Gatorade. But did you know that for five bucks you can also get a half-gallon of milk, a container of strawberries, and a handful of bananas? For what, you ask? To make your own strawberry banana smoothie, which gets you more natural sugar without all the extra calories, bud!
    7. Don’t read Jimbo Times: The L.A. Storyteller. Because free Los Cuentos merch for what, you say? Who needs that!!! NOT YOU.
    8. Don’t sign up for a free class at your local community college even though in L.A. it’s practically free for students under 18. After all, learning is too much of a lethargy anyway, right? And there’s no time for that. Wait, what does lethargy mean again? Not time for school!
    9. Don’t Exercise. After all, exercise is for animals, and humans aren’t animals, we’re mammals. Which is so different, right? Oh, I forgot. Not time for school!
    10. Don’t care. Because since we’re not doing much this Summer 2019 anyway, whatever this potentially productive item could be doesn’t even matter! Just imagine just how much doesn’t get done when we think and act this way! A lot.

      J.T.

How to Beat Summer 2019: Part III

Los Cuentos with J.T; Summer 2019

Alright, so you made it past How to Beat Summer 2019 Parts I & II and are now nearing the finish line. However, if you think the third and final part of this series will be easier because you’ve gotten through the first two lists, you’re in for a surprise.

1. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS OR ENTERPRISE. To some, this may sound “too far advanced,” but it can be done in so many ways that it’s actually much easier than it appears. You can start a band, or you can start a rap career. You can start painting, illustrating or photographing the world you live in, or you can start making delicious soup out of it; you can start on your path to becoming a motivational speaker, or you can start on your destiny as a fashion designer. But first, you need to start by getting organized, which is where your outline comes in. Depending on your choice, your outline will answer one of the following questions from this list:

I. What will your podcast talk about to make it unique?
II. How will your raps set you apart from the competition?
III. What will your paintings show about the importance of self-expression?
IV. What will your photo or drawing capture that the world needs to see?
V. What will the name of your soup kitchen be?
VI. What will your motivational speech sound like? Or, who will your ‘target audience’ be? (E.G. Youth, undocumented, queer communities, etc.)
VII. Who will your fashion design be for? (Same as above)

Your business can also be an idea from outside the list, but check with me first about it. No matter what the idea though, you’re going to need an outline explaining the mission of your business. For any questions on your outline, I’m just around the block.

2. RECORD YOUR FIRST PODCAST FOR YOUR BIZ. UPLOAD IT TO SOUNDCLOUD. HIT PUBLISH. Here, you’re not only going to create your own original content, but you’re also going to build a platform to showcase it like a pro. But wait, I can hear the doubts trickling in already: What are you going to record? Or, what if you record, but people think your podcast is silly? Or what if no one stops by to listen? These are the kinds of questions that many creators ask before starting something new, but the fact is that such questions just get in your way; they’re based on fear, not reality, and this is because we all have the ability to be creative in our unique way that others can learn from. Moreover, what you should really be concerned about is how if you’re not taking advantage of how quickly you can make your own podcast in 2019, that’s a way bigger loss than someone thinking your recordings are silly. And. Here’s. The. Best. Part:

This Summer 2019, if you’re up for this challenge on our list, I will show you how to make your own podcast. Wait, did someone say challenge? Like our Hat Challenge, or our New Hoodie Challenge? Yes, indeed, Youngs!

3. COMPLETE BOTH ITEMS ON THIS LIST TO WIN THE FIRST EVER BLACK & WHITE HOODIE BY J.T. That’s right. If you choose to start your rap career this Summer 2019, you’re not only going to write and record your verse, but you’re going to record your own podcast telling people more about your rap. The first step to building your podcast will be an outline. If you choose to start a soup kitchen, you’ll record a podcast describing your kitchen’s menu with details like how I’ve done with these posts.

To make things more interesting, you’ll also be choosing a pseudonym, or a mysterious online name specifically for this project, which in actuality is how a lot of the internet used to be, since a lot us were shy about our work when we were just starting out! Complete these steps, and I assure you that you’ll be the first student to ever WIN the First Black & White Hoodie by Jimbo Times.

SO, are you entering the challenge? Then get a MOVE ON! For all yours questions, try the new contact form to reach me. I can’t wait to see all your ideas!

J.T.

How to Beat Summer 2019: Part I

Los Cuentos with Pierre; Spring 2019

Okay, so you’re (finally) done with school and can’t wait to enjoy the summer shine in L.A. but you don’t quite know how to get started. Moreover, it seems like all these other kids have somewhere to go while you’re just sitting at home watching IGTV re-runs on your couch.

I’ve been there. It’s tough when your routine suddenly vanishes like the spammers on Instagram who follow just to unfollow, but here are the first three steps you can take on the very first day of your summer break to create an amazing time by yourself right away.

1. EXERCISE (yes, not kidding). This does not require WiFi, any long distances, or even that much time, frankly. The fact of the matter is that your body’s health totally affects your state of mind, which means that if you’re just sitting around at home all day, you’re more than likely going to get grumpy. Grumpy kids lead to awkward vibes, and awkward vibes are not at all what you’re looking to get the most of during your break.

So, does this mean you have to suddenly drop everything and sign up for the Olympics? It does not. All it means is that you need to STRETCH OUT your body in order to feel more relaxed throughout the day. You can do this on the very first day of your summer break in multiple ways, including the following:

I. 25 push-ups (or an amount more proportionate to your ability)
II. 25 jumping-jacks (same as above)
III. 1 Mile of light jogging (same as above)

I promise that if you can do any one or a combination of these at least three times a week, you will instantly feel better about nearly everything else in mind.

2. FIND A BOOK. TURN TO THE FIRST PAGE. READ THAT MF. Now let’s be honest, I know that flipping through the pages of a textbook doesn’t prove as IG-worthy as a trip to Magic Mountain or your best friend’s cousin’s quinceñeara, but I’ll explain how it’s just as good, if not better. Let’s be clear about this too: it’s true that when you’re assigned books at school and are required to read them, it can take a lot of the fun out of the reading experience. But this does NOT mean that reading overall isn’t an enjoyable, enriching activity for your mind. It just means that you’ve got to take reading at your own pace is all. Consider three key benefits you’ll gain from channeling your inner-reader this summer season:

I. You’ll improve your vocabulary, which is just better for everyone, including those of us who want to rap, those of us who want to go out on dates to drop a great one-liner or two, and those of us who simply want to better explain to others why they can’t tell ’em nothin’.

II. You’ll get away from home, even if you’re just home. This is especially important when you’re not really trying to go out to anywhere in particular but still want to get away from the predicaments of home. Now, I know what some of you might be thinking: your phone is the best way to get your distance, but consider this: your phone is a warm and tired object that rarely let’s you focus on just one thing. Over the summer, it’s going to need a break from you and vice versa. A book, on the other hand, is literally cooler since it doesn’t require batteries, and is much easier to focus on as it entails just you and the author on an adventure. The latter will not fail you. Trust me.

III. You’ll grow to see yourself in more of the world out there. Again, let’s be honest: your IG is filled with people who are like you but also not. In the throes of being similar to others you’ll inevitably compare yourself to others. But what if you’re really just comparing yourself to an idea you have about someone else based on appearances instead of reality? Don’t overthink it, though; Just consider this: reading allows you to relate to other characters and personalities out there in a way that doesn’t require you to compare yourself to them. This, my friends, is an extremely useful skill that you’ll appreciate being familiar with over the course of many lifetimes.

For a few favorite books by yours truly to get you started, consider Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, or even–if you think you’re tough enough–Alex Haley’s Autobiography of Malcolm X. You can also check out my BOOKS section on the site for more recommendations, which I’ll be adding more reviews to this summer (because of course I’m going to follow my own list).

3. SUBSCRIBE TO JIMBO TIMES FOR MORE COOL STUFF. By far the easiest thing to do on this list is to make sure you’re in touch for all the latest updates with The L.A. Storyteller. There will be more poems, stories, contests for Los Cuentos, and a world of other stuff in the making through the site. Subscribing will also guarantee that you don’t miss How to Beat Summer 2019: Part II. So, what are you waiting for? Find the subscription button on the bottom section of this column and DO IT ALREADY! And if you’ve already done that, tell a friend! Or FIVE. This is not a drill.

J.T.

Schoool (For the students of Los Angeles)

A little remix of 21 Savage’s billboard-topping ‘a lot’ by yours truly for the students of Los Angeles:

“How much homework you got? (straight up) 
How much homework you got? (straight up) 
How much homework you got? (straight up) 
How much homework you got? 

How many homeworks you got (a lot) 
How many quizzes you got? (a lot) 
How many teachers done doubted you? (a lot) 
Kicked you out the class? (a lot) 
How many lessons you lost? (a lot) 
How many field trips it cost? (a lot) 
How many laughs did you caught? (a lot) 
How many admins you shock? (a lot) 
How many times did you try? (a lot) 
How many times was it pride? (a lot) 
How many times you cold feet? (a lot) 
How many times did you sigh? (a lot) 
How many times your hope grieve? (a lot) 
How many times did it cry? (a lot) 
How many chances rap done gave you? (a lot) 
Thuggin’ round words like poets (a lot) 

Every day that I exist, I’ma side with the kids 
I’d rather be paid their thoughts than collect like Trix 
Told my students take my cred if my speech starts to cringe 
But I’m J.T. forev ain’t no way I’ma fidge(t)”

We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground 
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we make L.A. go ’round.

Huge potential outcomes if you state a couple facts 
Your dream so bold you could put it in your cap 
Fam vs the world, me and moms, it was us 
Then school sent me to da station and they really cuffed me up 

My father broke wives so he failed to be my teach 
My brothers popped ice and it fell em to the streets 
I been through the court but it turned me to J.T. 
Now the other side is sunny, I get paid these thoughts on sheets 

How many homeworks you got (a lot) 
How many quizzes you got? (a lot) 
How many teachers done doubted you? (a lot) 
Kicked you out the class? (a lot) 
How many lessons you lost? (a lot) 
How many field trips it cost? (a lot) 
How many laughs did you caught? (a lot) 
How many admins you shock? (a lot) 
How many times did you try? (a lot) 
How many times was it pride? (a lot) 
How many times you cold feet? (a lot) 
How many times did you sigh? (a lot) 
How many times your hope grieve? (a lot) 
How many times did it cry? (a lot) 
How many chances rap done gave you? (a lot) 
Thuggin’ round words like poets (a lot) 

We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground 
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we make L.A. go ’round. (x2)

How many sent to the deans’? 
For throwin ‘ they shots like vaccines 
I can see behind the phones and filters 
Egos ain’t big as they seem

Intersects like a string
Everybody got they thing 
Some students make dean’s list, other students make lean
I’m gon’ reflect on the scene
I’m not gon’ choke, I’ma free ‘em 

I don’t wan hear your concerns 
This ain’t no parent-square but I’ma care 
When they dragging kids down for expressin’ they heritage 
U know kids can learn from rap battlin’ and culture 

I guess you were hoping the rules would just tame they true selves
But these bars flowin ‘ college of self

OK, I got it, we’ll show up on everyone’s algorithm 
You know what bro Malcolm would preach 

Bettin ‘ a thousan

It’s got to the point that these schools ain’t even always the safest to be 
Fuck it cause that’s where this Los Cuentos fashion just hit me
It led me to save kids a spot, on a new remix to drop 
Shout out to “a lot, ” I polish the hook and I jot 

Pray for our schools cause they robbed like Iraq 
I picture the slaves on the fields pickin ‘ cot 
Respecc how they made it past all em cops 
Risking no less than they death if they caught 

I pray for the students who think they should cut 
Just want you to know your lives matter, my kiddos 
If I never met you, still know that you special 
And that the world needs you, don’t doubt it, for reala 

All the real teachers, stay solid, amigos 
I’m only tellin ‘ it just how I felt it 

I saw this parent look lost and abandoned  
When told that her kid goin ‘nowhere by standin’ out,’ I got amends 

It’s said that ur grades all about ur success, jot this dissent 
Flow on a mission reflectin’ how goals at our schools got be bigger 
Before we relent, reala

How many homeworks you got (a lot) 
How many quizzes you got? (a lot) 
How many teachers done doubted you? (a lot) 
Kicked you out the class? (a lot) 
How many lessons you lost? (a lot) 
How many field trips it cost? (a lot) 
How many laughs did you caught? (a lot) 
How many admins you shock? (a lot) 
How many times did you try? (a lot) 
How many times was it pride? (a lot) 
How many times you cold feet? (a lot) 
How many times did you sigh? (a lot) 
How many times your hope grieve? (a lot) 
How many times did it cry? (a lot) 
How many chances rap done gave you? (a lot) 
Thuggin’ round words like poets (a lot)

We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground 
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we make L.A. go ’round.

J.T.