I recently met a very impressive young man while visiting with my father, Mr. Johnnie Will Smith, in Los Angeles, California. This young man, who lived next door and is the son of one who helps to care for my proud and still self-powered father of 88 years young, possessed incredible vocal, musical, and even writing and producing talent. In other words, he could not only sing and dance, he could 'think,' analyze and strategize too. The only problem with this young man's life success plan, as I shared with him, was that his primary dream plan did not have a practical backup plan. And worse from my perspective, his backup plan, should really be his primary plan instead. Let me explain.
Responsible rap (meaning rap that is true to its origins and roots), Hip-Hop, the broad world of celebrity, and our varied professional sports, are so very important to cultivate and carry forward as part of the larger African-American and minority success story framework for a race. As Quincy Jones repeatedly burns into my soul and pounds into my thick head, "music, art and culture shapes the soul, helps to heal and bring together our world. They help to shape more well rounded people." I agree with Q 100%.
That said, having a career in music, the arts, entertainment (in front of the camera) and sports as the primary life success solution for more than 30 million African-Americans alone in this country, is just plain dumb. Sure, a few lucky ones will make it through, but I would argue that most of them are not in fact all that 'lucky,' at the end of their career-day. A couple facts.
70% of all professional football players file bankruptcy within 5-years of retirement from the game, and there is a 100% injury rate amongst professional football players.
70% plus of all professional basketball players file bankruptcy within 5-years of retirement from the game.
And a vast majority of the "celebrity" artists, from rap to Hip-Hop and beyond, find themselves dead broke after a short, and often even highly visible career.