Finding the Balance Between Rap and the Books

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Keith Shine, 17, is a junior at Curie High School in Chicago. He wants to go to college — but he also wants to be a rapper. In a piece produced by Curie Youth Radio, Shine shares his dilemma.


At Curie High School in Chicago, there are just two more weeks of classes. And when students come back in the fall, 17-year-old Keith Shine will be a senior. He plans to apply to colleges like some of his classmates, but even if he gets in he's not entirely sure he wants to go.

Mr. KEITH SHINE (Student, Curie High School): (Rapping) Grim reaper, the creeper is what they speak of when I'm creeping to their window while they're sleeping. I'll be beeping like beepers of voice, coughing my - nah.

(Soundbite of music)

What's up you all. My name is Keith. I'm 16-years-old and the reason why I'm playing this audio for you all is because I got a choice to make, about being a professional rapper or going to college. I picked college, though. Man, like, I'll be thinking about it, but man, it's going to be crazy. I want to go to college because I want to have a good future, but I love the music so much I want to - don't (unintelligible) put you on saying. I wouldn't throw a monkey wrench in my plan.

Yesterday, I asked my mama how would she feel if I didn't go to college and I got an answer that I was kind of expecting, but obviously she wouldn't say.

Unidentified Woman#1: First of all, I'll be very upset because I know college is a good education for you and you can, you know, further your career and always do rap. You always want to have something to fall back on when you go to college. And then I never went, so it's a good experience for you.

Mr. SHINE: And my mother say that she never went to college, that adds conflict, you know, because I got 3.7 GPA. You know, I got the smarts to go to a good college.

Mr. SHINE: (Rapping) Sticks and stones will break your bones, but the crone that I hold in my home it'll break your domes. Sleep…

The notepad that I use to write all my lyrics now, you know, got 70 sheets. So that's 70 rhymes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman#2: I came in your room, knew about this (unintelligible)

Mr. SHINE: The girl that you all hear talking is my little sister.

Unidentified Woman#2: So, (unintelligible) said to me and Jane and I just went along with them, like, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday are my school days.

Mr. SHINE: (Singing) Thursday, Friday are my cool days. Brought you this…

Mr. SHINE and Unidentified Woman#2: (singing) …far upon the Johnny Dow (unintelligible). Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday are my school days.

Mr. SHINE: Yeah, that was hot. Yeah, that was hot.

(Rapping) Bow down to the underground king, go to shy town. Shine, 16, so remember my start, we'll see if they can save on a memory card.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SHINE: That's what I told mom, and I'm like, if I get - if I got a deal before I go to high school, man, I'm won't going to college. I really think I have become a rapper like - I could be one the one in the million. I got different styles, I can create stories, you know, I have good delivery, metaphors, confidence on the mic.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SHINE: (Rapping) Grim ripper the creeper is what they speak of when I'm creeping to their window while they're sleeping. Beeping like beepers of voice, coughing my - nah.

This is that realness, that filled this, that come into the walls over building.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Whatever you decide, good luck, Keith. Keith Shine is a junior at Curie High School in Chicago. His piece was produced by Curie Youth Radio.

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