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Fans of Allen Iverson and connoisseurs of bad rap both got some unfortunate news last week. Turns out Iverson’s much-discussed debut album may never hit the bins.
Last year, Iverson declared he’d be moonlighting as a rapper under the name Jewelz, the handle he filched from Samuel L. Jackson’s hit-man character in Pulp Fiction. The former Georgetown student-athlete’s first disc, originally to be titled Non-Fiction, was going to be released in February, to coincide with the NBA All-Star Game. Given all the publicity Iverson got for his MVP performance at the game, that would have been good timing.
But the release of Non-Fiction was postponed shortly after advance copies of the single “40 Bars” got out, just before training camp opened, because folks at the NBA’s offices got worried about the gangsta pose Iverson was assuming. Here’s a partial transcript of the song (parental warning: Due to offensive lyrics and utter meaninglessness, parents might not want to read further):
Never mistake me for a fake MC
You got the wrong idea
Nigger I’m CT fool
Get murdered in a second in the first degree
Come to me with faggot tendencies
You’ll be sleeping where the maggots be…
Everybody stay fly get money kill and fuck bitches
I’m hitting anything in plain view for my riches
VA’s finest filling up ditches, when niggers turn to bitches
Die for zero digits; I’m a giant, y’all midgets
I know killers that kill for a fee
That’ll kill your ass for free, believe me
How you wanna die, fast or slowly?
Fast as a rolie, slow as a rolie polie?…
Ain’t nothing sweet about this rate of mystique
Got niggers where you eat shit, sleep, and beat your meat
Die reaching for heat, leave you leaking in the street
Niggers screaming he was a good boy ever since he was born
But fuck it he gone
Life must go on
We can't make City Paper without you
Niggers don’t live that long
NBA rap is nothing new. But the previous crossover efforts of star players were far less menacing than Iverson’s.
Check out, for example, Shaquille O’Neal’s ho-, nigger-, bitch-, and faggot-free love cut “Let’s Wait a While”:
I got your back, in fact, I’ll never hurt you
Mislead, deceive, Shaq won’t desert you
Just call me crazy, I just say whatever
Praying for the day I’ll make you my girl forever
Or Kobe Bryant’s so-smooove and boring debut single, “K.O.B.E.,” which he also recorded in Italian:
Beautiful, the feelings we share are mutual
Passion that’s telling me so for us is suitable
Uncontrollable desire flows through me
When you say my name, such lust in your slang
NBA Commissioner David Stern, reacting to complaints from the NAACP and gay advocatesand the comparison of the words of the most exciting player in the post-Jordan era with those of John Rockercondemned Iverson’s MCing. “The lyrics that have been attributed to Allen Iverson’s soon-to-be-released rap CD are coarse, offensive, and antisocial,” Stern said in a statement. “Notwithstanding [gangsta rap’s] wide popularity, Allen, by even recording his lyrics, has done a disservice to himself, the Philadelphia 76ers, his teammates, and perhaps all NBA players.” Stern called Iverson to New York for a meeting and asked the guard to apologize to offended groups.
Iverson did apologize, and he promised to remix the album to remove any “gay-bashing or any women-bashing.”
A second release date was announced for early June, along with a new title, Misunderstood. That meant the new date would coincide with the last round of the NBA playoffs. That also would have been great timing for his product to hit the shelves: Iverson was named league MVP at the end of the seasonthe smallest player in history to get the awardand he dragged the Sixers to the finals on his back. Even in losing to fellow rappers Kobe and Shaq, Iverson carried himself like the Little Engine That Could.
But Misunderstood, for reasons that Iverson’s would-be label, Universal, hasn’t made public, didn’t make the second release date, either. And the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week that Universal isn’t planning to put the album out at all this year.
MP3s of “40 Bars” can still be found on the Internet. So can “Pay Per View,” a single Iverson recorded with Mysonne and Mase, rappers whose previous collaborations include the cute little ditty “Fuck Me, No Fuck You.” More of the same from “Pay Per View”:
Is this all you got in your little bank account?
Entrepreneur nigger bounce
Come back with a much larger amount
And I’ll still stomp your bank and whatever you got in it
And as soon as I win it, I spend it
In the Benz that’s tinted
I fuck and you call her
I bust nuts and you spoil her
You know the game, militant track race
Fuck pretty, put murder back in front of Mase
And let’s blaze this place
In all likelihood, the second shelving of Iverson’s disc means that his rapping career is over. Since the end of the playoffs, Iverson, who hasn’t had a full-service agent since he jettisoned D.C.’s own David Falk, has been seeking representation. With his Q-rating at an all-time peak, he’s more eligible than ever for the licensing and marketing deals that have eluded him thus far. Unless his next agent thinks the “Got Milk” folks are going to make a play for the gangsta market, Iverson will probably be advised to shelve the hiphop pose and carry around his little boy, Deuce, as he did at press conferences during the NBA finals.
“He can still put out an album,” said one local sports marketer who hopes to land Iverson as a client, “but it’s going to be a country album.” Dave McKenna