The city of Highland, Mich., is riddled with drugs, poverty, prostitutes and general despair. The unemployment rate in Highland is 24 percent, more than three times the national average.
Accordingly, any child growing up in the city will undeniably have a harder time making something of themselves and escaping the grips of poverty.
But the inspiring young members of the rap group "Beasts of the Beat" say they control their own destiny, and their daily choices will determine whether or not they will be just another "statistic" or successful in life.
Beasts of the Beat was formed at Northpointe Academy, where a 25-year-old music teacher, Joe "Mr. V" Vercellino, is changing the lives of his students.
In a video report from WJBK-TV, some of the members of the group offer incredibly insightful thoughts on growing up in poverty and how every kid still has to make his or her own decisions. One of the rappers in the group, Deshawn Blair, likely stunned the camera crew as soon as he opened his mouth to talk about the area he's growing up in and his own personal responsibility.
[sharequote align="center"]"I choose to be somebody successful." - Deshawn Blair[/sharequote]
"Basically, all it is is drugs and poverty. I mean, every kid has his own decisions. Like, kids may say, 'I ended up here just because of the neighborhood I live in.' It's your choice whether you wanna make or you don't," he said. "Whether you want to be another statistic lying down, another drug dealer that they know about, or you can choose to be somebody successful. And I choose to be somebody successful."
He may sound like the teacher, but Blair is one of eight kids at Northpointe Academy determined to take a different path than some of their classmates.
Vercellino told WJBK-TV his ultimate goal is that each of his students grow up to be "strong, dedicated, consistent men."
"The Beasts of the Beat is really not as much about creating rap stars as it is about creating men," he said.
Beasts of the Beat is already creating some buzz on iTunes with its first album.
Find out more about Beasts of the Beat in the video below: