From the jump, Allen Iverson has been all about keepin' it real, yo. So why were y'all hatin' him last week when his profane gangsta rap single, 40 Bars, blew up? Cuz y'all don't know where he's comin' from, yo. Y'all don't understand hip-hop culture in the year 2G.
"Sports journalists who don't listen to the Hot Boyz aren't going to get it," an Iverson adviser, Henry (Que) Gaskins, recently told a paper in Philadelphia, a.k.a. "Illadelph," where A.I. breaks ankles for the Sixers by day and by night "flows" on "wax"—raps on CD—about murdering "faggots," "nig-gas" and "bitches." Wack lyrics, yeah, but you can't judge a man till you've walked a mile in his kicks, dig—you can't hate if you can't relate—and so here's the 4-1-1 on A.I., yo, so you might better understand his anger.
Angry? Hell, yeah, he's angry. You would be too: Sometimes, when A.I.'s keepin' it real in his suite at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (where the Sixers have stayed when they play in Phoenix), removing his 'do-rag (which is imprinted with $20 bills) so that his hairstylist (whom he flies in from New Jersey) can freshen up his 'rows, Iverson has an impulse to "reach for heat" and "leave you leakin' in the street." But there's no complimentary 9-mm in his suite, only an in-room rotary shoe-buffer. There's no "street" outside his suite, either; instead, there's a polo pitch. So A.I. starts buggin' at the injustice of it, yo.
Sure, he's makin' mad paper: $71 million over six years from the Sixers, plus $50 million cash money to wear Reeboks. But check this shiznit: In the NBA, bailers are only clockin' $85 a day in meal money! For real! Try getting a Cristal breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel for $85, yo. The little orchid in the tiny vase on the room-service tray costs more than that!
If you've flown your crew in from Bad News—that is, if your posse is visiting from Newport News, Va.—then e'ybody goes hungry. If a man can't prop his peeps, can't show 'em loyalty, then of course he starts trippin': He becomes, as Iverson raps, "man enough to pull a gun" and "man enough to squeeze it." But all he can squeeze is more fresh lemon into his imported Chinese Hoji-Cha tea. So his rage continues to build.
Then these corny sportswriters say he's hatin' women. Puh-leaze. His moms, Ann, is bling-blingin in a mad platinum pendant—a number 3 encrusted with 63 diamonds. That piece o' ice is so big, yo, that the Illadelph Inquirer could only describe it as "the size of a frozen waffle." The woman is iced out.
So when A.I., who has a five-year-old daughter, busts a rhyme about his desire to "kill and f—bitches," that ain't really him flowin'. It's his MC alter ego—whom Iverson calls "Jewelz"—keepin' it real by rhymin' about all the wack shiznit that a playa sees every day on the mean, clean, privately maintained streets in the gated communities of suburban Illadelph. YouknowwhatI'msayin'?
No? You've no earthly idea what I'm sayin'? Well, this is what I'm talkin' about: Nothing and nobody will keep Jewelz from keepin' it real, see. Not the Martin Luther King Jr. Association for Non-Violence, not the Lesbian and Gay Task Force, not Racial Unity, nor any of the other playa-hatin' protestas who last week picketed outside the Sixers' home, the First Union Center, evidently displeased with A.I.'s lyrical ambition to "kill your ass" in a variety of ways. Not even Spike Lee, who last week called A.I. "a 21st-century minstrel show," will stop Iverson from chronicling the hard-knock life he lives every day while keepin' it real from behind the smoked glass of an ivory Bentley Azure convertible.
No, the Answer answers only to God. God, and a small Jewish lawyer from Scarsdale, who told A.I. last Thursday that if he continues to keep it real with his "repugnant" raps, then he—commissioner David Stern—will personally hound Iverson's foolish bizooty right out of the NB-friggin'-A, yo.
So A.I. promised to expurgate the most offensive lyrics when his LP drops in February, at which time it's sure to go as platinum as Ann Iverson's Eggo-sized medallion. "He always talks about being real," Sixers president Pat Croce told the Inquirer. But for this wack, corny, outta-touch sportswrita, another quote comes to mind. "The most essential gift for a good writer," said Ernest Hemingway, "is a built-in, shockproof s—detector." For real, Papa. Yo.