Is hip-hop ruining pro sports?
In Manufacturing Consent, Noam Chomsky talks about how he was once into sports, to the point where he'd occasionally show up to a high school football game, but then one day it occurred to him that he didn't even know anyone on the football team. So fuck it! This pretty much sums up how I feel about sports. They can be an amusing diversion, provided you don't have cable or anything, but who has the time these days? Nothing against people who are really into sports. I'm just saying.
Probably the last time I wrote about sports on this site was the time when Pacman Jones made it rain in the strip club and a buncha people ended up getting shot. Most likeky, I would've found that story hilarious regardless, but there was also obviously a hip-hop element, what with Fat Joe and Lil' Wayne's "Make It Rain" being a popular song at the time. Come to think of it, there was also that story about how Jay-Z and Larry Johnson went half on
some astroglide an apartment, though that could be viewed more so as one of my hip-hop = teh ghey stories. Nullus.
The latest such incident involves Michael Vick, who's apparently been running a dogfighting ring in his part time to supplement the ridonkulous sum he receives for running around with a ball in his hand. No homo? Why he would need any more money than he already has is beyond me, but you know how it is with these black athletes and celebrities trying to pay everyone in their entourage as if they actually provide a useful service. I wouldn't want to speculate too much with regard to his financial situation.
But obviously the main issue here is that he had a little money in his pocket and he wanted to make even more money. And you can't really fault a guy for that, can you? That's what being wealthy in this country is supposed to be about: making your money work for you. The problem, of course, lies in the fact that he's still just a guy who gets paid to run around with a ball in his hand, not a visionary venture capitalist like 50 Cent. What's he gonna do, become a hedge fund manager in his part time? In fact, I'm convinced this is the reason why you occasionally see ostensibly well-paid pro athletes getting caught transporting large quantities of drugs. Gotta flip that dough to get mo dough fa sho!
And then of course there has to be a hip-hop element to this. I mean, when's the last time a young black person got caught fucking up and there wasn't some sort of hip-hop element? On the one hand you can't help but be upset to see hip-hop constantly take the blame for all of society's ills, the vast majority of which existed long before there was a such thing as hip-hop as we know it today. But on the other hand, fuck hip-hop. After all, who's fault is it that hip-hop (and hence young black culture in general) has become so synonymous with crime to the point where Billy X. Sunday puts together a list of the greatest "hip-hop" films of all time, and all there is is a buncha movies where people sell drugs and shoot at one another? If you said it's the white man's fault, then I heard Michael Eric Dyson has a bridge he'd like to sell you.
It'd be difficult in this case to find a connection to hip-hop as direct as "Make It Rain" being a popular song in clubs and on the radio during the aforementioned incident, but I see some fervent anti-hip-hop types are putting forth DMX as one example. I'm not sure if DMX ever raised any dogs for the specific purpose of dog fighting, but I'm sure he at least had them trained to fuck somebody up. At the very least, you'd never see DMX walking around with the kind of fruity-looking dogs you see white girls walking around with. (Probably on their way to yoga.) Not to do any conservatives' jobs for them (which might constitute snitching, if you live in that kind of neighborhood), but there was once a hip-hop film called Fresh, which had a subplot that involved dog fighting. Biggie Smalls once rapped about feeding his dogs gun powder, and I believe there was once a cover of a Kool G Rap album where he was sicking some dogs on some white people. Big Boi from OutKast raises pit bulls to sell rather than to fight, but whatever. He's kinda short anyway, but he could stand to be taken down a notch or two.
In general though, there does tend to be this idea in hip-hop that not only is criminal activity the only way a black man can make money, so as to escape his miserable existence in the ghetto (an area which is fucked up precisely because there's so many criminals there in the first place, though that's a topic for another discussion), but if he's lucky, he just might get away with it. Meanwhile, when is this ever really the case? The incarceration rate among young black males speaks for itself. Personally, I don't care enough about dogs to get too upset about what Michael Vick did, but I do find it extremely bothersome that someone with his means would even put himself at risk like that. I don't generally wish jail on anyone who doesn't pose any threat to actual human beings (you know, like walking around in the mall with an AK-47 stuffed in your fur coat), but I wouldn't be too upset if the judge threw the book at his ass. If anything, it might send out a message to today's youth that you just can't fuck up like that and hope to get away with it.
For more on the Michael Vick incident, check out this week's Barbershop, the NPR program with my boy jimi izrael. And here's a column on the supposed connection between the Michael Vick incident and hip-hop by Jason Whitlock, that one guy from the Don Imus incident, who's gradually emerging as a younger though equally as chubby version of Stanley Crouch, just in case Stanley Crouch dies or something.