It was only a little bit surprising when it was publicly announced a few weeks ago that rap star Lil Wayne (real name: Dwayne Carter) was going to receive a jail sentence (for weapons possession) on Feb. 9. He did a “farewell” concert in his native New Orleans.

Wayne is just the latest in a long string of highly influential rap stars who have had to do time. You would think that this would be hurtful to their careers but, as disgusting as it is, serving time does not have much effect on a gangsta rap star’s popularity. In fact, it might even increase it.

The list of rap stars who have been jailed, for an array of offenses, is long and continues to grow. In addition to Lil Wayne, that list includes T.I., Lil’ Kim, Shyne, The Game, Mystikal, DMX, Tupac Shakur, Foxy Brown, Busta Rhymes and more.

As sad as it is to have to admit, so many young African-Americans — especially males — look up to people who are essentially hoodlums, and being a “thug,” in those circles, is considered a plus.

If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were here today, he might be in tears. But, as Rosa Parks said so succinctly, “You can’t expect kids to know what they haven’t been taught.

Despite the progress we as a people have made — including the country electing a Black president — we are bogged down by a lot of extremely serious, largely self-induced  problems. It’s painful to accept but, among young Blacks, street violence, gunfire and even murder have lost their ability to shock — and that is an indictment of our community and society at large.

I am among those trying really hard to think of reasons to believe there is hope. Decent, intelligent, conscience-driven Black people have got to do something because the lowlife element is pulling us all down.

ON THE PLUS side, Darius Rucker is to be applauded for being the first Black artist to win the prestigious New Artist of the Year award from the Country Music Association, based on his megahit album “Learn to Live.” Rucker is the first Black superstar in country music since the groundbreaking Charley Pride in the 1960s.

Granted, most Black people are not into country music, but African-Americans are not monolithic. There are Black people who like every kind of music to one degree or another. My music collection includes R&B, jazz, pop, blues, rock, country, reggae, gospel, classical, hip-hop, show tunes and more. It’s all good.

Most people are not aware of the fact that Chris Williams, the brother of actress, singer, dancer and former Miss America Vanessa Williams, is an accomplished actor. His film work includes “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Dodgeball.” Chris’ most recent credit is an appearance on the hit TV series “Ugly Betty” in which Vanessa has a starring role.

New albums are on the way from Usher (“Raymond v. Raymod,” Feb. 16), Toni Braxton (“Pulse,” March 2), Jamie Foxx (“Body,” March 2) and a best-of collection by Detroit’s own Was (Not Was).

Jamie Foxx, to the surprise of many, is actually a classically trained musician. He received a scholarship to the United States International University (interestingly, located in Kenya), where he studied classical music and composition. And you may not have known that Foxx’s name is actually Eric Bishop.

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