Imagine for a moment an African-American father being asked by his white step-daughter to attend a rap concert with her. That is the very scenario I faced recently.

Truth be told, I had been to only one concert before in my whole life, and it was not hip-hop music. Those two words “rap concert” conjured stereotypical visions of wall-to-wall black folks, gangs, drugs, and violence. And I could not deny the fact that at age 45, I would likely hold the dubious honor of being the concert’s oldest attendee.

I decided to go anyway. “Sure, I’ll go,” I told my step-daughter, feeling unsettled in my soul but hearing timidness in my voice.

May 4th was my day of reckoning — the much-anticipated Techn9ne concert that my step-daughter asked me to attend in Orangevale, California, a suburb of Sacramento. My first epiphany of the evening came as she and I stood in the long line that snaked around the music venue. It suddenly occurred to me that the majority of the concert goers were white. What’s going on here? I thought. Have I somehow been suckered into attending a county music performance instead?

After being carded at the front door by an amused security guard, I found myself surrounded by a sea of energized people ready for the concert to begin. The first act took the stage at 8:30 p.m., followed by a set from a second band. Tech N9ne, the main event, began at 10:00. A sea of young adults clad in skinny jeans flailed their arms and gyrated to the pulsating music reverberating throughout the concert hall. I stood rooted to the floor simultaneously mesmerized, intrigued and a bit frightened.

What most fascinated me about the crowd was the their skillfulness in sending text messages, photos, videos and even Twitter updates while dancing to the beat of the music. At one point my step-daughter called a friend who lives 100 miles away in Chico, California, and held up her phone so that her friend could listen in.

To me, this concert reinforced that rap music, like it or not, is one of the most powerful forces appealing to young, disaffected segments of our urban population. Clearly the future of our more urbanized areas will rest largely on how we as a nation acknowledge the collective influence of this extreme form of creativity

While rap concerts can create trouble for some communities, this young adult demographic adds dramatically to the economic bottom line by purchasing hats, t-shirts, music downloads, stereo systems and the like. Like our parents before us, we in the baby-boomer generation might not understand or like this generation’s music, but their dollars are a quiet boost to our sagging economy.

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