Scourge of the Era
This may be difficult to remember, especially for some of you younger kids, but there was a time not too long ago when the world wasn't nearly as fucked up as it is now; the crack epidemic had more or less come and gone, taking with it may of society's least desirable elements, the Arab community was more or less in check, and the economy was about as good as it was going to get in this age of globalization uber alles.
The time I speak of was, of course, the 1990s. Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones" was a Buzz Clip, and all was right with the world - or at least as right as it'll ever be in our lifetime. As such, we were forced to find more trivial issues to concern ourselves with. For example, I remember reading as a middle school-aged kid that the most popular drug amongst kids my age was not in fact weed, but steroids.
In fact, a subplot of the first season of my favorite TV series evar the Real World involved steroids. Eric Nies had been kicked out of high school for juicing up and would have to take regular trips to New Jersey, or wherever trashy white people live in New York (Queens?) to see his p.o. and take a piss test.
Interestingly enough, after that first season ended, he went on to have one of the more successful careers of a Real World cast member as host of The Grind, and I couldn't help but notice he was a lot more cut up than he was when he was on the Real World. Hmm... (nullus). I'm not accusing the guy of going back on the juice, but suffice it to say that a young, but already quite portly Bol began to consider his options.
Of course the thing about steroids is that you still have to work out while you're on them. In fact, I'm not even sure what would happen if you took steroids but didn't work out. My guess is that you'd just get fatter, but your junk would get even smaller. Or maybe nothing would really happen. Either way, I obviously didn't care enough about my appearance to find out.
When you get paid borderline subsistence wages to talk shit about music over the Internets all day, it doesn't matter as much how you look; but one arena in which personal appearance is becoming increasingly more important is hip-hop. There was a time, back before hip-hop began to suck balls, when a fucked up-looking rapper like Biggie Smalls could get by on sheer talent, but obviously those days are long since gone.
In these days of rappers dancing around on TV with no shirt and making out with other guys, it's as important as ever to have a nice six pack rather than the proverbial fuel tank for a sex machine. As cynical a genre of music as rap is, I suppose it was only a matter of time before rappers turned to steroids in order to get a leg up on the competition.
Here's the thing: I could give a rat's ass if some d-bag wants to ruin his heart and shrink his junk just to get that toned, Nazi look. If baseball players want to juice up, that's perfectly fine by me. Best case scenario, maybe they all turn into Barry Bonds; but even if half of them die, there's an obvious up side: fewer athletes in the world = more time for people to read about things of actual consequence.
But I do worry about the effect 'roids may have on the hip-hop community. We're only a few years into Steroid Era and already I'm noticing way more roid rage incidents than we see in professional sports. Busta Rhymes stays in and out of jail for going all Incredible Hulk on people, and now I see Saigon has gone and tried to beat up his girlfriend with a car.
Similarly, you have to wonder what effect steroid abuse is having on hip-hop beef. Is it any wonder that the two highest profile beefs in hip-hop as we speak involve 50 Cent and Timbaland, who are both obviously on the juice? How long until either of these turns into the first hip-hop beef-related roid rage incident?