Bison Books Edition
Most intellectuals will only half listen/so you can't blame jazz musicians/or
David Stern with his NBA fashion issues.
—Nas, “Hip Hop Is Dead” (2006)
At the end of 2006 that venerable wordsmith Nasir Jones, otherwise known as the rapper Nas, released his ninth solo album, the provocatively titled Hip Hop Is Dead. The album is indeed a masterpiece, especially considering the dismal state of hip hop in post-9/11 America. Nas embraces the tradition of the culture at the expense of the present state of the game, where commercialization, repetition, and an overriding lack of creativity have taken a toll on a once uniquely energetic and influential form of expression.
Nas's album incited a lot of controversy in hip hop circles for the boldness of its statement, particularly among southern rappers (who now seem to dominate much of what passes for hip hop), many of whom felt slighted by the tills I their more recent achievements. One could argue the album's assertion rings true on the basketball court as well. Quite a bit has happened in the intermingled worlds of basketball and hip hop since I began writing the first edition of Young, Black, Rich, and Famous back in the days immediately following the now infamous events of September 11, 2001. At the time, the inevitability of a profound connection between the two spheres of influence seemed to be a given, and this was what motivated the writing of the book in the first place.