When David Hollander couldn't get Will Smith to take up his cause, he turned to some of Palm Beach's rappers. When that crew told him his mission was lame, he came up with the moniker he now performs under: Pro Se.
The legal term means "to represent yourself," which is what Hollander, a 35-year-old Boca attorney, has been forced to do in his latest venture. After three years of working as a Jacksonville prosecutor, he's learned the easiest way to reach would-be offenders.
"I saw I was prosecuting juveniles who commit these crimes like drug dealing and armed robberty, and no matter how big of a heart you have, you have to prosecute them," he says. "And they're taking their cues from rap music."
So Hollander spent nine months penning the manifesto of what he calls "responsible rap." He had a local beatmaker, Wedly "Beat Beast" Altidor, make the tracks sound like "what
you would hear at a club," he says.
So how does Hollander -- a graduate of Stoneman Douglas High, in Florida's safest city -- hope to reach the state's youth?
"You've got a million-dollar boat/a million-dollar Benz/a million-dollar house for your million-dollar friends/what you gonna do when that million dollars ends?" he raps on "10-20-LIFE," a song that teaches the titular legal principle.
In fact, all of Hollander's songs are instructive, like "Buckle Up," which explains the laws surrounding DUI, and "Flip on You," which tells kids that if they deal drugs, someone will inevitably betray them and they'll end up in prison.
The nontraditional rapper with a nasally voice says he admires artists such as Wu Tang Clan, Eminem, and Dr. Dre for their artistry but likens himself more to contemporary guys who he says have a more responsible message.
"Newer groups like --- I can't think of names -- the white guy. Macklemore?," he explains. "I'm kind of in line with that."
Since June, women in Palm Beach County have been clutching their pearls over a video called "Living in Lake Worth." In it, rapper 28 Gramz explains the difficulties of being black in that community and rails against its wealthy denizens for wasting money rather than working to reduce crime. The song started a debate on Facebook about the future of the city.
So has Hollander, who is now a personal injury attorney, gotten any reaction for his work as Pro Se?
"I've done open-mic nights at Funky Buddha and the Purple Lotus Kava Bar, and I rock the house every time," he says. "I'm requested for Christmas every year at the juvenile detention center in Palm Beach."
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