Born in a Bad Way
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Born in a Bad Way

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Ted Lucas grew up in Carol City, a black neighborhood close to the Broward County line. His family was poor but his athletic talent helped him win a scholarship to Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School in Hollywood, though his football career ended after just one semester at a Texas community college. He returned to Miami and a life on the streets. Then the murder of one of his best friends changed everything.

Instead of living the thug life, Lucas began promoting it -- musically. He enjoyed modest success booking acts into small local venues. One financially disastrous show he organized at the Miami Arena nearly bankrupted him. But with help from family and friends he recovered, and in 1994 founded his own label, Slip 'N Slide Records. A savvy business sense and a good ear for hip-hop have led to rapid success. Today his stable of artists includes mega-stars Trick Daddy and Trina, along with Iconz, Tre+, Money Mark, Unda Presha, and CO, among others. Lucas still lives here, never far from the grinding poverty so familiar to Miami's black community. And he hasn't forgotten.

Growing up poor, it make you appreciate things. Make you work harder. It's hard to get that opportunity. When you get an opportunity, you gotta take advantage. Not everybody grow up with college paid for, so at the age of thirteen or fourteen they out trying to get a job to help support their families. That's what stops the people that's poor from making it in the world. Age thirteen, fourteen they out trying to get a job. They see the struggle they parents been going through, so they try to help to get school clothes. That make it hard to get somewhere.

All my life I wanted to upgrade the generations of my family, my niece and my nephew. To help the roots coming up behind me, that's all I want in my life. If I can help the younger generation see something bigger, not just get a job at Burger King to help my parents.

Rich kid go home, he have salad, then he have dinner, then he have dessert. He got a full belly. He go to school, he can listen to what the teacher saying. You know this poor kid, he worrying about: What I'm gonna eat for dinner? The lights gonna be turned off. It's hard to concentrate and get an education when you got things like this to worry about. He gotta go home and take care of his little brother and sister cuz his mom gotta work two jobs. For someone to make it, it takes a strong family. It's hard for one single parent. It takes two incomes, and that's a big problem.

It's very hard to get a job here. In other places it might be easier to get a job. Miami just don't have the black ghetto that's poor. You got poor Hispanics. You got poor white Americans. You got Haitian poor people. In Chicago or St. Louis they just got one section that poor. In Miami you got Liberty City, you got Little Havana, you got poor all over the area.

Everybody out trying to make it better. The Haitian community, they do stick together. The Hispanic community, they do stick together. You can have a Hispanic family living with ten people in a three-bedroom house, everybody comes home and give money to Grandma to save for another house. It's a good model because they work hard. In the African community it happens, but we just don't stick together all the way till the end. Somebody might not want to save their money. Somebody else get a paycheck and they don't wanna take it home to the family.

Let me see, how I can say it? This I'm for myself attitude, that's what's bad about Miami. You know, ever since 9/11, when that happened the first thing I said to myself: The poor people gonna be homeless; the middle-class people gonna be poor; the rich is gonna get richer. The people that was barely making it, they're in trouble. They're the first getting laid off. The rich is gonna get richer. They gonna buy up all the stuff the poor people losing. That'll bring the crime rate up. Rich people, 'stead of trying to help the poor people, they use it for their advantage. That's a problem that poor people have.

Politicians talk a good game. A lot of people make promises of what they going to do, but once they get there, they don't do it. It sound like it gonna be a good thing, but it don't never go through. Somebody got to take a stand. All the stuff they promise they gonna do -- if they don't do it within a six-month or a year period of time, they may be kicked out: You don't do it, you're out of here.

You know, you can walk a half a block over from the American Airlines Arena, half a block, right next to our big pretty arena you got homeless people. If you go to a Miami Heat game you can feel so happy, feeling good leaving the Heat game. Then you get a sad feeling seeing someone laying on the sidewalk. I hate to see people laying on the floor outside. If I can help, I would do something to change it. Definitely a homeless shelter, that is number one. I don't care if every week you got to build on it and make it bigger. I would open up a homeless shelter where you get your three meals a day, you can get a bath, and rehabilitate these people. Whatever your excuse is, you won't have an excuse not to get a job as long as you got health and strength. That would help the poor people get back on the right track.

Rappers can change things, not on a major scale but on a small scale. Like I know for a fact that Trick is in the process of trying to do a day-care. He get tired hearing about kids that get left at home when Mom at work or went out. He's not doing that like a business venture. He's doing it from his heart. He been saying it for the longest, that that's something he really wanted to do. I could see him being home when he was young and seeing kids growing up had to be home by themselves while they momma's at work. It makes a rapper rap about his life history -- and so many people that's poor can relate to what exactly he's saying. It inspires another young rapper, another young poor person, who say, Trick going through what I'm going through. He made it. I can make it. Trick tell 'em: Don't use drugs. He tell 'em: Go to school and get an education. He know it ain't easy.

I ain't rich. I just got a little bit of money. I try to invest that little bit of money that I got into other things besides music. Growing up poor make you appreciate [money] more. Growing up rich all your life, you take risks because daddy gonna take care of me. You know if you poor, if you don't know how to invest your money or pay your rent, you gonna be in the streets. It definitely has a different effect on people.

I have to give it to my grandmother, Eartha Tyler Parks. My grandmother got a backbone that's made of steel. She was working at a meat department in a grocery store and taking care of seven people: my mother, my aunt, my uncles. Seven grown people. Feed us and clothe us. You can depend on a hot meal on the table. She told me when she first bought a house back in the Sixties, she remember catching three or four buses just to make five or ten dollars that day. If she had to take three buses, she might of spent a dollar to pick up two extra dollars. If she wouldn't have been that strong, I wouldn't be in this position today.

She always said, God hear your prayers. He'll make it happen. She put that in me and it worked. If she wasn't so strong in her faith in God, I don't think I would have made it. She inspired me to want more, to work harder.


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