Commentary: Rappers and the NBA

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, December 15, 2006

NBA commissioner David Stern arrived in Sacramento as The Bee was running its series on gangster rap.

It struck me:  Stern heads an organization built on the extraordinary talents of a group of men who are disproportionately black from poor inner cities. Brotha Lynch Hung and T-Nutty, rappers featured in The Bee series are black entertainers, also from the inner city.

NBA’s fan base stretches beyond urban ghettos. Upper middle class suburbanites fill most NBA arenas and the league cultivates a world audience. Rap music originated with the urban underclass but has become popular among middle and upper class kids of all colors. Rap has caught on in other parts of the world too.

Both the NBA and gangster rap use nearly naked women to sell their products. Both practice garish consumption. Think Joe and Gavin Maloof swilling $6,000 bottles of wine while eating hamburgers. Now picture rapper T-Nutty with pieces of gold and diamonds embedded in his teeth rolling up to the A1 Mini Mart in his white Cadillac.

Of course there is one big difference. Stern’s NBA clients regularly seek handouts from taxpayers to build arenas. Gangster rappers do not.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.