No. 3, With A Bullet Allen Iverson's controversial rap CD blares an ugly worldview at odds with his cushy lifestyle

October 22, 2000

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," "niggas" 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 shiz-nit: In the NBA, ballers 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 shiz-nit
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 biz-ooty 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.

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: DAN PICASSO

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