SCOTT SIMON, host:

Oakland, California, can often be a grim place with high murder and robbery rates. But in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, some young people have found a creative way to brighten things up and get around town. Tyrone Stevenson couldn't afford a car, a scraper in Oakland lingo. Instead, he tricked out his bicycle with spray paint, aluminum foil, and Oreo cookie wrappers on the rims. The bikes caught on with his friends and spread across town. Young Mr. Stevenson wrote a rap about the scraper bikes. The music video has become a hit on YouTube. From member station KQED, Jacob Fenston sent us this postcard.

Mr. TYRONE STEVENSON, JR. (Scraper Bike Creator; Rap Artist): Actually, scraper bikes saved my life. I can definitely say that, because I was at a young age getting into a lot of serious trouble selling drugs and on the verge of going to jail.

(Soundbite of rap song "Scraper Bike")

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: (Singing) Yeah, scraper bikes. Scraper bikes.

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: So my mom, she told me, like, this is a way I can channel my anger and frustration. I should just focus in on something that's creative and something that's me. And the bikes is me.

(Soundbite of rap song "Scraper Bike")

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: I'm moving on my scraper bike. I'm cruising on my scraper bike. My scraper bike, go hard. I don't need no car.

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: My name is Baby Champ, the scraper bike king, inventor, creator. My forename is Tyrone Stevenson, Jr.

(Soundbite of rap song "Scraper Bike")

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: On my scraper bike. On my scraper bike. On my scraper bike. On my scraper bike.

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: A scraper bike is basically a creative way of expressing yourself. It's basically the things that you incorporate onto the bicycle such as Oreo wrappers, such as Skittles. Put things like that onto the spokes of the bike.

Little P(ph) (Scraper Bike Rider): I've got the Pepsi. I've got the Sunkist. When I bring that out, everybody's like, yeah, that thing go. Real bright cutting the corner on them big 28s, like big, big tires. And when they ride, they look like the sun, because it's the Sunkist bike.

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: The idea from the scraper bikes, it basically came from the cars that ride in Oakland. We call them scrapers. Basically it's just like an old model car, such as a Buick, that's painted a custom color to match the rims. And I wanted to take that, since I didn't have a car at the time, and still don't, and put a bike onto it.

Little P: When you get on it, it look like a big Tonka truck. You feel me? Because it's a low frame though...

Unidentified Man: On big old tires.

Little P: On big old tires.

Unidentified Man: And is this - this year...

Little P: Everybody got a little frame on big tires in my community.

Unidentified Man: Yeah, everybody got a little frame on big tires in our crew. And if you don't got one, I mean, you ain't original, you know what I mean? That's how we get to...

Little P: You got to have one if you want to be original.

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: You got to have one. Oakland has been taken over by scraper bikes. So everybody in Oakland know of the scraper bikes.

Unidentified Man: Everybody wants to buy it. I mean, every time they see me, they're like, how much do you want for your bike? I'm not selling it yet. You know what I mean. I'm going to put it on eBay or something, man. Let the world see it, you all go bid on it.

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: It is worldwide. We got people. You could check out on my MySpace, myspace/scraperbikeking. There's people from literally across the world making these bikes from Portland, Oregon, to Japan, to Australia, to Jamaica.

(Soundbite of rap song "Scraper Bike")

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: Yellow, green, orange with bling, Scraper bikes is on the scene. Trunk Boiz drill, yep that's my team, Got a fire red bike just like the bean.

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: Right now, we're making a stop at my (unintelligible) house. Little P picking up his Sunkist scraper bike, three-tone: orange, yellow and blue. And we're about to just ride out, about to continue taking over the streets of Oakland like we always do on a daily basis. You all ready?

(Soundbite of rap song "Scraper Bike")

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: I'm cruising on my scraper bike. My scraper bike go hard. I don't need no car. Smashing on my scraper bike. Scraping on my scraper bike. Scraping on my scraper bike.

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: The true meaning of a scraper bike is, basically, I want to give back something positive to the community because there's so much going on, drugs and killing and stuff. This is a way of giving the kids an outlet to a positive future, but being creative at the same time.

(Soundbite of rap song "Scraper Bike")

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: Moving fast, real swiftly. With something you've never seen. Oh so spiffy. Scraper bikes was invented in the towns.

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: Look out. Scraper bikes is here forever. I can guarantee you that.

SIMON: And if these bikes seem a little hard to imagine, you can see them for yourself on our Web site, npr.org.

(Soundbite of rap song "Scraper Bike")

Mr. STEVENSON, JR.: On the bike, and even in the car. Still pulling bras, looking like a star. It got TV's on it, and it got slap.

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