It’s a Rap at Samohi
By Jeneé Darden
December 7 -- Under tight security, Grammy-award-winning rapper
Kanye West performed for more than 3,000 exhilarated students, who screamed
and danced to the Chicago artist’s sharp beats and smooth flows at Santa
Monica High School Monday afternoon.
Students wearing “Kickin’ It With Kanye” were sprinkled throughout the
crowd, but the excitement was everywhere.
“I’m a happy camper because he came through,” said freshman Ori Ross.
West’s appearance was Samohi’s reward for overwhelmingly winning a radio station’s online voting contest. More than 100 Los Angeles area schools competed in Power 106’s “Big Boy’s Backstage with Kanye West.”
Samohi won after delivering 20 percent of the contest’s 5 million votes.
Dressed in his unique, hip-hop/preppy style -- a cream ski sweater with
Christmas-colored red and green diamonds, blue jeans and sneakers -- West
rocked the stage with hits from both of his multi-platinum albums, “The
College Dropout” and the new “Late Registration.”
Security was beefed-up with Santa Monica police officers and school district security guards visible both inside and outside the campus. During the concert, one guard conspicuously looked down on the scene from the roof of a nearby gym building.
Both students and teachers wore colored wristbands to make it harder
for outside students to crash the concert. Some tried but failed, school
West, a college dropout and a critic of institutional education, clarified
the mixed message that his background and this partnership may send to
“When I dropped out of school I had worked in the music industry and
had a record deal on the table, but when I wasn’t successful I had to
go back to the real world and work a telemarketing job.”
Known for his lyrics that address race, poverty and social issues, the
rapper made a jab at the president Monday when he added an extra line
to the beginning of his Grammy-winning rap song “Jesus Walks”.
Heightened security on campus came more than half a year after racial
tensions erupted during a lunchtime melee at the 3,500-student school.
But Principal Ilene Straus said she had other worries Monday afternoon.
(see related story)
“He was awesome,” said Coach Gregory Bernard. “It’s a different change
from gangster rap. He’s more conscious.”
But some students left the concert encouraged.
“The message I got was to use your talents in a positive way,” said Omid
Hadavand, a sophomore.
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