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Opening Statements

Street Legal

CD Cover courtesy of Mekka Don

In the rap world it’s all about street cred. And Emeka Onyejekwe has credibility—just not the kind typically as­sociated with rap. What he does have is a law degree from New York University and experience as a litigation associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Manhattan.

But the 26-year-old left it all behind to become a rap artist. His self-produced “mixtape,” Law & Order, can be downloaded from MySpace, and his reality show The “Legal” Hustler can be seen on YouTube.

When Onyejekwe calls himself a hustler, he’s not kidding. Besides music, he says, he’s earning a living through modeling, event planning and sports marketing along with running a small legal practice with his sister.

Q: You are the son of a U.N. diplomat and an academic. What do your parents think about your career change?

They’ve always known I had a burning desire to be an artist. And it’s not like I just left and said I’m going to rap every single day. I may be crazy, but I’m not dumb.

Q: If you had it to do over, would you go to law school again?

Definitely—I love the law. That’s what people kind of lose in this situation.

Q: What do you mean?

I’ve been able to make it cool trying to run your business like a model citizen. All these things rappers talking about that people love so much—money, women, cars, jewelry—there are other ways to get those things. I grad­uated from law school at 24 and was making $160,000.

Q: So why give it up?

It makes me less legitimate in some people’s eyes if they think I’m doing this as a side thing. For me to really make it, I had to go all out. If I was still working at Weil, I would still have that support system, and I wouldn’t have that burning desire to make it.

Q: What’s the biggest misunderstanding about you and your work?

That I’m doing this for fame, to get rich, just for stardom. That it’s kind of a self-serving type of situation. That’s not entirely wrong, but it’s misguided.

Q: Fame and fortune is not such a terrible thing.

Well, yes. But this may not be my best idea. I probably have better business ideas and opportunities than this.

Q: What sort of reaction are you getting from the legal community?

To my face they say it’s cool, but behind my back there are a lot of negative responses. Some black lawyers think this is the worst possible thing I could have done in the black community. But almost every piece of criticism is from someone who’s never heard my music.

Web extra:

See all of Mekka Don’s The “Legal” Hustler.

Episode one

Episode two

Episode three

Episode four

Episode five:

Season finale, part 1:

Season finale, part 2

Leaning Green

Is There a Specialist in the House?

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