Hip-Hop Fridays: Athletes-Turned-Rappers
In all of my years in the music business, I was always intrigued by the mentality of the athletes who befriended Hop-Hop artists. It was so peculiar to me how the basketball and football players went out of their way to be "down" with the rappers. It definitely was not a case of mutual admiration as it was the athletes who clearly wanted acceptance from the rappers and seldom the other way around.
The part that I most disliked about the interaction was how the athletes nine times out of ten, attempted to become rappers. It was both hilarious and insulting. In a few rare cases, an athlete made for a pretty good MC. One such athlete that I got to know was Andre Rison, the all-pro wide receiver. But he was the exception to the rule; usually the individual had no rhythm, was offbeat and required a professional artist to write their rhymes.
I felt that the athletes always took their love for Hip-Hop too far by trying to rap with professionals. And the truth be told, if they weren't paying the artists so handsomely, they never would have made it into the same recording booth with these gold and platinum selling solo artists and groups.
I always used to think of how an athlete would feel if a rapper tried out for their squad. And lo and behold, I didn't have to wait too long as Master P did in fact try to make it in the NBA. From what I hear his B-ball skills are nice but just not on the NBA level.
Well, we may have reached the apex of the athlete-turned-rapper phenomenon with the emergence of Allen Iverson or "Jewelz" -- his Hip-Hop MC name. The difference between Allen Iverson and his athlete-turned-rapper predecessors, apparently, is that he has made it his mission to not sound "corny" or cheesy. He aims to represent "the real".
The pressure to appear "real" and street is so great in Hip-Hop that one often isn't considered a serious MC unless his lyrics are validated on street corners and car systems in the inner cities and among the legendary Hip-Hop underground community.
Well, some artists are very explicit and graphic in their lyrics when they seek to win the approval from this sector of the Hip-Hop community, and in the process, offend many die-hard fans as well as casual listeners.
Allen Iverson now appears to be the first athlete-turned-rapper to accomplish this result.
Reportedly, his album offends many and reflects more of the life that Iverson saw as a youth than the lifestyle that he lives today.
For many, this is illogical and for others it is understandable.
But another question that I think should be raised is whether such creative works are credible. And do they help or hurt the evolution of Hip-Hop culture and MCs as respected artists.
Are athletes-turned-rappers legitimate Hip-Hop artists or are they perpetrators who, whether intentionally or not, are making mockery of a profession and art form?
What do you think?
We will post your responses.
And we will review the Iverson album after it drops.
Here are a few articles that deal with the Iverson-turned-rapper controversy.
Taking The Rap
Iverson Besieged On Issue Of Rap Lyrics
Iverson Apologizes For Rap Lyrics
Friday, October 6, 2000