Flint, Michigan: Pop pop pop, my nigga just got shot.

Flint, Michigan is your typical Rust Belt town.

They built the first Buick here in 1904, the Model B (though it was no Model T – they only made about 40 of ’em). At one time, General Motors employed over 80,000 people within the city of 200,000. Flint proudly dubbed itself “Vehicle City”, and lots packed with cars fresh off the assembly line could be seen from highway I-475.

Now, it’s big news if GM hires a few hundred workers, and the city’s population is down to 100,000. Thanks to cuts to police and fire and high unemployment, it’s also one of the most dangerous cities in America.

It’s hard to see a silver lining here.

But there is one: the people. They keep on livin’, despite what the headlines says. And only a city like Flint could nurture an artist like Teen♥Mom. Modern folk art – graffiti, slam poetry, rap – thrives in urban decay, finding the room to breathe in empty lots and abandoned buildings, and Teen♥Mom is a true, unselfconscious modern folk artist.

Her poem “Flint Michigan” accurately describes the everyday lives millions of young people in struggling cities across America. The mindset it depicts in cold, hard words might seem juvenile and immature, but it’s also the truth. It’s a reflection of the culture and values that rappers from 2pac and Biggie to Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy have reinforced with the help of the media. (Note: For the sake of perspective, it’s worth noting that Teen♥Mom is a white woman with an expressed preference for dating black men.)

Flint Michigan

No income in this town,
So we hustle on the daily.
We hungry round here,
And that moneys looking tasty.

Niggas shootin niggas,
Just in case of a maybe.
This dude might try to shake me,
So I have to shank em before he gets me.

Heads gettin popped off,
Over a dolla round this place.
We can’t afford our rent,
So we gotta take your space.

Pop pop pop,
My nigga just got shot!
So here’s another funeral,
I’m comming into while I’m hot!

You know if I could leave this pit,
I wouldn’t even miss this shit!
Which is real sad cus I love my niggas,
Cus I love my city but it’s just too shady.

Sawed offs AKs and shanks like no other,
This is a life of a true Flint nigga.
Color is of no matter unless it’s money green,
Try to take ours and we’ll cause a murder scene.

We just can’t help but to be this way,
If we didn’t hustle we wouldn’t be here today.
But from one hood to another stay on your grind,
Because I know your starving too if your towns like mine!
-Jennifer Rebekkah-

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