Why a bad rap cost Auckland students The Game

By Anna Leask

A top US musician is facing a ban from visiting a Kiwi school because of his "unsavoury" history of drugs, gangs, guns and prison.

LA-based rapper The Game, real name Jayceon Terrell Taylor, is performing in Auckland, Wellington and Rotorua next week.

He was due to appear at Papatoetoe High in Auckland on Wednesday as part of a competition run by radio station Mai FM but principal Peter Gall said the visit was unlikely.

"We haven't given approval. It's a decision that will be made in line with school policy. I understand that this fellow may have a bit of an unsavoury background. While I am very pleased and proud that we won the competition, I would doubt that we would take up the offer."

Taylor, 28, was last year sentenced to 60 days in jail, 150 hours of community service and three years' probation after pleading no contest to charges of possessing a weapon at a school. The BBC reported he was playing basketball at the Rita Walters Educational Complex in south Los Angeles when he punched an opposition player before getting a gun from his car and threatening to shoot him. He was also charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after allegedly swearing and refusing to leave a US shopping mall in 2005.

The Grammy-nominated artist, who has had two number one US albums, has had public feuds with other artists, including rappers 50 Cent and Jay-Z. The father-of-two, who also survived five gunshot wounds after being attacked in his home, told XXL Magazine he had gang links and had sold crack cocaine and cannabis while at high school.

Australia-based tour director Josaiah Ofapu has described Taylor as a "positive role model for youth". However, Rotorua police are drafting in extra staff in case of gang-related violence when he performs there next Saturday.

Mai FM marketing manager Natasha Meleisea said Taylor's background was discussed before the station approved the promotion. She said he was inspirational and it was not every day an international hip hop star agreed to visit an Auckland classroom.

"The reason we wanted to do it was to focus on his struggle and what he has been through and how it's not the way to go. The message is there is a way to deal with things," she said.

However, Gall did not believe Taylor's "story" was appropriate.

"There are a few of those stories around but it almost seems like the message is 'it's OK to be a bad dude when you're young because you can turn your life around later'. I would much rather have messages from people who say it's great to be a good dude all the time," he said. "I have nothing against him, but I am very much against what he has done in the past. It's not right, it's unhealthy."

The decision is likely to be rubber-stamped tomorrow, with chairman of the school's board of trustees, Ben Taufua, backing his principal.

Meanwhile, Allan Va'a, a youth worker at Auckland's Crosspower Ministries also thought Taylor's message was not ideal. "We don't have to go through all the hard times and turmoil to find something positive in our life."

- Herald on Sunday

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