STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The city of Dallas wants to give no break to people who dress a certain way. Today, politicians, hip-hop artists and businessmen send a message to people whose pants are sagging around their knees.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports on the campaign to pull your pants up.

WADE GOODWYN: Deputy Mayor Dwaine Caraway's work life usually involves economic development, crime, housing code enforcement and stray dogs. But the drumbeat of anger from South Dallas, the predominantly black part of town, got so loud that Caraway decided to take a little detour into law enforcement work - you know, fashion police.

Mayor DWAINE CARAWAY (Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, Dallas City Council District 4): This is not just a teenage problem. There are people sagging that's in their 30s. You know, where's your mind? You're not a teenager.

GOODWYN: Caraway says, at first sagging was about showing your boxers. Then sagging was about showing more of your boxers. Then sagging was about showing more of your boxers. Then dirty boxers were cutting edge. And now...

Mr. CARAWAY: When you're actually seeing the guys walking around, not with boxers on at all. You have some folks that don't even have on underwear period. And who's to say what the generation that's looking at this generation will do after these guys?

GOODWYN: So two weeks ago, Caraway called a press conference and proposed a new sagging ordinance. Unfortunately for Caraway, lawyers then called with some potentially bad constitutional news. So Caraway backed off a bit on the legal front, but he didn't give up.

Mr. CARAWAY: The number one mission is very simple: pulling up your pants. That's all we want. We don't want to throw folks in jail because they wore their pants low. So we're going to make it man's law and not city law.

GOODWYN: And here is where fate stepped in to rescue the deputy mayor's crusade, because in his barbershop in South Dallas, a rapper named Dewayne Brown saw Caraway on TV. Brown is called Dooney, and Dooney was suddenly very excited, because he'd been thinking about writing a new song. He already had a title.

(Soundbite of song, "Pull Your Pants Up")

DOONEY (Rapper): (Rapper) Hey, pull your pants up. Hey, pull your pants up. Woo, pull your pants up, man. Pull your pants up.

GOODWYN: After the 10 o'clock news was over, Dooney ran to his recording studio in the back of his barbershop, and by 3 a.m., he'd written a masterpiece: an anthem, a hip-hop plea to America's youth.

(Soundbite of song "Pull Your Pants Up")

DOONEY: (Singing) I'm just saying, man, I'm sick of seeing your underwear.

GOODWYN: Dooney believes most of the boys and young men who are sagging don't know where it really comes from, but another word for sagging is jailing.

DOONEY: They don't know why their pants are low, and I'm - in the song I'm educating them because I asked them why you're wearing your pants below your bottom? And they don't know why. They think it's a fad or it's something to do or it's cool. I say, well, no, this is where it comes from. It comes from behind the bars.

(Soundbite of song, "Pull Your Pants Up")

DOONEY: (Singing) Look at it, ladies, you think somebody is standing on the side of the wall or on the floor with their pants real low. Take your index finger and put it in the loop on his pants and pull his pants up. Be a real man. Stand up.

GOODWYN: Clear Channel has agreed to donate billboard space around town, and Dooney designed the billboard, showing him with his arms crossed, standing in front of downtown Dallas.

But if 14-year-old Kayree Mitchell(ph) and his friend Calvin Jones, who were both working down the street with their pants down low are any indication, there's a lot of convincing to do.

Mr. KAYREE MITCHELL: I don't really care too much about it. But then again I was thinking it's some bull, though. I think they need to just shut up and just do them instead of doing us.

GOODWYN: Minutes later, 17-year-old Derrick McKinney(ph) walks by with his two friends, Trajan Rush(ph) and Kindira Bonner(ph). They are not sagging.

Mr. DERRICK McKinney (Resident, Dallas): I don't even like sagging, but I still feel like it's unfair. You can't just ban it. If they let them ban that, what's next?

GOODWYN: Dallas is not the first city to confront sagging. Shreveport, Atlanta and Stratford, Connecticut have all discussed passing laws. But Dallas is taking a different approach, trying for the hearts and minds of its young people. Could be an uphill battle.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.

(Soundbite of song, "Pull Your Pants Up")

DOONEY: (Singing) What's up with you, bro? Pull 'em up before your pants hit the floor. Pull 'em up, yeah.

INSKEEP: So this is our music selection for the morning. The artist Dooney Da Priest founded the label Peculiar Records. He says it refers to a biblical injunction to be a peculiar people. You can hear more of the song at npr.org.

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