'True' To His Word,Talking About Rap Or Ironworking
Most of the motorists won't give a second glance at the workers, but one of them has a truly interesting story.
In fact, his name is "True" and the Rockaway resident is an ironworker by day and an aspiring rapper by night and on the weekends, performs at many of the peninsula's "Stop The Violence" events.
Even The Wave does not know "True's" given name, because he "lives in the hood," and does not want his past to catch up with what he is doing today.
True has made it clear, however, that rap and hip-hop must take a new direction that brings the youth of Rockaway away from violence and towards staying in school and getting a good education.
"True" won't say what run-ins he has had with the law, but he admits to having a checkered background. That is why he wants other local youth to understand the consequences of improper behavior. "You have to give kids something positive to do, something like basketball, boxing," True says. "You have to show them what the gang experience is really like, what it leads to."
"It tells kids to put the guns down, stay in school, stay out of trouble and do something positive with their lives," he says. "I lived in all the 'hoods,' Edgemere, OV, Arverne, and I know what it's like. There's got to be something else. We have to point that out."
His rap song says it all.
"Running like a linebacker to make you hurt.
"Everyday of my life I struggle and work.
"More than a nine-to-five, you cats standing on a corner, slinging rocks and talking jive.
"Have no time for your foolish minds. Everything that I write goes inside my life. I transform anger, get my hustle on, work hard and the right way, so I get paid.
"I thank the Lord for letting me survive in this crazy world. We live to teach the kids from right to wrong and stay positive. Your dreams are important."
"Problems have solutions," True says. "We have to show kids that guns, drugs and gangs are not the solution to the problems they face each day living in Rockaway."
After discussing his music, True turns to his working life.
The Wave caught up to True in the parking lot on the Brooklyn side of the Marine Parkway Bridge last week.
Surrounded by his colleagues on their lunch break, he wanted to talk more about another ironworker than about his music.
"We want our condolences to go out to Gino Gelamino, an ironworker who died from a fall from the Triboro Bridge two weeks ago.
Gelamino was a member of the same union as True, Local 361 of the Ironworkers Union, and a former Golden Gloves champ who turned professional with a record of 31 wins and 3 losses, including 22 knockouts, True says.
His death points out the danger of the ironworker trade, True says, adding that it's probably even more dangerous than being a successful rapper in today's world.
True told The Wave that his message is being heard by Rockaway's teens and he hopes to perform for even more Stop The Violence events this summer.
"We've got to do something for our kids," he said. "We have to keep them alive and in school."