It's hard to be black in Lake Worth. At least that's how the rapper 28 Gramz tells it. The 27-year-old self-described "King of Palm Beach County" wants people who live east of Dixie Highway to understand his struggle.
This past June, he released "Living in Lake Worth" through Smokeface Entertainment. In the video, Gramz raps in front of Lake Worth Community Gymnasium about poverty, imprisoned family members, and being raised by the streets. A sample lyric: "Money is everything when you living in the hood/Tell that to the rich folks, because they be burning it like wood."
That's the exact kind of sentiment that's enraged Rosemary Kerttula. She's been living in Lake Worth since she was an infant, although she's planning to leave. On Saturday, the 41-year-old posted 28 Gramz's video on a Lake Worth community Facebook page with the comment: "just wanted to share what is going on the south side since some college park people have no clue."
It started a debate over the city's crime rate, which is about four times higher than that of the average city in Florida.
"We would all love to live in a crime free beautiful city, old pipes and pot holes are not the problem," commented Orlando Fernandez. "The problems begin at home, teach children manners and respect, something I feel is lost."
Lake Worth is about 19 percent African-American and 65 percent white, according to the 2000 census. The rap video riled up a debate about how to "fix" the community.
"If these kids want to have a glimmer of hope we HAVE to fix our schools," wrote Theresa Cavanaugh. "Drive down any main street in Lake Worth and look at the graffiti and gang signs everywhere. This is the youth of our city."
28 Gramz, who attended Lake Worth Community High School, also ignited a debate about the influence of hip-hop culture on impoverished youths.
"The JayZ's and Beyonce's create this false delusion that promotes the opposite of working hard and getting educated," chimed in Mark Parrilla. "Success is now equivalent to selling drugs, getting shot or going to jail and you'll become a rap star. Boy is he in for a rude awakening."
28 Gramz did not respond to a request for comment about his video. Neither did Kerttula, the woman who considers it a reason to move out of dodge.
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