Franklin Township, N.J. – He may be blowing up as a rapper but Dee-1, a.k.a. David Augustine Jr., still drives a 1998 Honda Accord and recently told an audience of more than 100 young people that he left his job as a math teacher to be a positive influence over a greater number of youth.
“I saw how much my students wanted to be like rappers,” said Dee-1 of his time as a 5th grade math teacher in Baton Rouge, La. “I never saw someone from my city of New Orleans who was a positive influence. There are people with millions of fans teaching a negative message. I need to get out here and get back as many people as I can, with my message.”
Interviewed by AllHipHop.com’s Chuck Creekmur, Dee-1 spent more than an hour inspiring middle school to college students with his message of hope as part of the 5th Annual Financial Freedom Conference last week hosted by the Rev. Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries in Franklin Township, N.J. Dee-1 asked students to be productive, spiritual members of society – starting with fiscal responsibility.
“Don’t even start college unless you know you’re going to finish. You have to pay those loans back,” said Dee-1. “I used to pay the minimum back. When I signed a record deal, I got a bunch of money all at once. The first thing I did with my money … I paid Sallie Mae back. One thing I love about my car is that it is paid off. I got out of debt because debt is a new form of slavery nowadays.”
Dee-1 told students that they need to be financially intelligent and know their numbers.
“Rappers are always talking about, ‘get that money,’ but nobody talks about what to do when you get the money,” said Dee-1. He said that while many rappers promote negative and frivolous lifestyles in their videos, he would rather anonymously send money to a fan in need than to waste money.
Not only are his song lyrics positive, most reflect his real life experience. Dee-1 started getting noticed for his 2009 hit “Jay, 50 and Weezy,” which he said was his first attempt to address rappers who “are so powerful, they have so much paper, they have so much platform, but they’re not doing anything positive with it.” He said he’s not sure how much influence the song has had but that it’s important for youth to “speak truth” to power.
“It’s not your job in life to save everyone,” said Dee-1. “You can plant the seed. At least I shined my light in that way.”