God Chose Memphis: Allen Iverson and Hip Hop, Again

Share |

Before I started working at Topps in the middle of the last decade, Allen Iverson precipitated two changes in how basketball cards got made. Neither of these altered the most basic fundamental of that process, which is that it was Topps's job to make cards exactly per the NBA's instructions and guidelines, while doing our level best to have the best photos on the front and choicest puns/analysis/quotes on the back. But the NBA's two Iverson-occasioned changes did alter the fronts and backs of the cards in ways that no other player would or could have demanded.

The first request from the NBA was that the prose on the back of the cards be a bit more street; not quite hip-hop or whatever, but just sort of urban contemporary. Then, shortly after that, the league rescinded that request and asked that Iverson's (many) tattoos be airbrushed out of the photos on the front of his cards. This, too, was rescinded after awhile, but there are some ink-free Iverson cards out there. They look weird, as you might expect. The person on them doesn't really look like Allen Iverson. But then, the NBA never quite seemed to know what to do with A.I.

The problem the NBA seemed to have with Iverson and the changes he made, more than anything having to do with race or aesthetics or whatever, always struck me as being  unique to Iverson. The bracing and beautiful stuff about Iverson was so wrapped up in his relentlessness and emotion and effort and strange caged ferocity—his Iversonity, if you like—that it was not at all easy to brand out, or really deployed as anything but a reason to watch this particular mercurial, troubled genius named Allen Iverson. It sure worked for me, but the league itself never quite learned how to channel it. First they wanted the league to sound more like Iverson, then they wanted Iverson to look less like himself. Neither quite worked.

To be fair, the NBA had never dealt with anything quite like Iversonity before, and haven't really had to since. Jordan's graceful mania was so vast and awesome that it could be both its own thing and everything; Kobe's is similarly vast if also less awesome and more inward; LeBron's is so mediated and Drake-ishly fraught that it presently actually takes away slightly from his actual brilliance. But Iverson's Iversonity was his alone, implacable and unassailable and finally just itself. That didn't make it or him less great—and it did make him more real, in all the good and bad and euphemistic ways that word gets used. But it did limit the NBA's ability to use Iverson the way they have other generation-defining players.

Topps didn't really know what to make of him, either. In 2005-06, in the first basketball set I worked on there, Iverson was on the cover of the box alongside Jay-Z. There were dual relic cards, featuring swatches of Iverson's jersey and Jay-Z's jeans, sprinkled throughout the set. The pairing made sense to the brand manager in an academic way—Iverson is hip-hop, Jay-Z is a hip-hop artist, let's knock off early—but it made no sense at all in terms of aesthetics. Where Jay-Z is about a commanding effortlessness and ease, Iverson defined himself through struggle and effort and the gnawing unease that was born of all that struggle and necessitated all that effort. I can't quite knock Topps for the choice, though. The Jay-Z cards are enduringly weird artificats in a way I'm pretty sure wasn't intended, the set still came out well and my then-editor Brandon and I had a lot of fun with it, and no one was really trying to pull a Jadakiss autograph card out of a pack, anyway.

Hip-hop, though, has always gotten Iverson. If this was a crucial part of the NBA's problem with Iverson back when they were tasked with trying to figure him out enough to make him marketable, it's also another thing that echoes to Iverson's credit in retrospect. He was too passionate, if always mostly passionate about himself and his own struggle, to be a bigger brand than he was, but compelling enough to become something better-loved than any globo-brand could be, at least by people who identified (or aspired to identify) some of themselves in him, or the other way around. It's maybe not that surprising, then, that even in Iverson's basketball afterlife—after that terrible sad flameout in Memphis, the ambivalent valedictory stint in Philadelphia, the weird stint in Turkey and the rumored Puerto Rico zombie contract—he remains someone worth rapping about. Even in the weird afterlife of his fame, the fucking guy is persistent.

The Memphis rapper Don Trip's recent "Allen Iverson" is a good song, in large part because Don Trip is a good rapper, but it's also a fascinating one because of how spectacularly Iverson it is—not just in the copious samples of Emotional Allen that fill in what would otherwise be the chorus, but in the way that it's tough to tell if it's about Iverson (in the dreaded rap-along-storybook style) or Don Trip himself, or both. Even Don Trip himself seems to have some confusion about it, although it seems the last of those options is the most likely one. “I feel that record shows that I go through the same things, even though I’m not on the same level," Don Trip told Allhiphop.com. "But I go through the same thing to where I got a little bit of notoriety, and at this point when I do certain things, people look at it like I’m a superhero, like I’m not supposed to do things.”

This is not the first time A.I. and Memphis chose each other, but it surely works better than the last one. And as long as we remember what Allen Iverson was about and how he went about being about it, it seems likely that this won't be the last time some MC, somewhere, finds an Inner Iverson to channel. Any rapper (or writer, or anyone) who doesn't have some sort of Inner Iverson to find isn't one I'd want to listen to, anyway.

Thanks to the estimable @Emmettisreal for this one.

Share |


Your blogs and every other content are thus interesting and helpful it makes me return back again.
100 online loans

that the price of food and food stuffs have rose because of the increase in the dollar rate. places to visit in ajmer

Pretty! It was really a wonderful blog. Thanks for the provided information.
payday loans stores in st paul mn

I see the greatest contents on your blog and I extremely love reading them.lifeinsurancerates.com

t seems likely that this won't be the last time some MC, somewhere, finds an Inner Iverson to channeL. pure slim cleanse free trial

I love your own publish. It's great to determine a person explain in words in the center as well as clearness about this essential topic could be very easily noticed. more information look at website. Highpr blog commenting

Document are only hoping to advise you which i only just go and visit your blog post and additionally Document discover it particularly unique and additionally revealing.. nano srebro

Good write-up i must claim in addition to appreciate it with the facts. Knowledge is really a sticky theme. Even so, is one of many foremost issues your time period. When i get pleasure from ones write-up in addition to count on far more. making money from home

Document literally uncover a web site just for executing checks also Document literally at this moment choose look and feel so asked. Document literally got attainable a task to undertake any for use on your specialized composing business venture also Shoot preventing individuals. Its possible at this moment, with all the approach most people blessed most people, I'll go ahead and test it out. search engine optimisation tips

Your articles and blogs are inspirational.trade fusion bonus

Your blog is fantastic, good quality perform... I know several can accept myself even when they just don't take the time to inform you. debt management tips

I did expertise checking out content as well as testimonials distributed below. These are just extraordinary you'll find a substantial amount helpful know-how. mydebtconsolidationplan.com

Very well, that bought everyone imagining the alternative physical exercises usually are perfect for these of people exactly who uncover themselves on your way or maybe include confined apparatus selections. US Floors Coretec Plus

I really like ones own blog post. It will be decent to find one explain in words belonging to the core and even purity in this particular very important area of interest will be readily experienced. Last minute gift

Escort in Delhi and you will feel like a king in my company. I am very open minded and fun loving girl so you can share anything with me without any hesitation . jaipur to delhi taxi fare

I've got to look for internet sites using pertinent home elevators granted theme and still provide the crooks to tutor each of our thoughts and opinions plus the content. circuito cerrado

I've got to look for internet sites using pertinent home elevators granted theme and still provide the crooks to tutor each of our thoughts and opinions plus the content. circuito cerrado

Recently i noticed your site and even As i required My partner and i learnt around one preceding. camara inalambrica

A person's peers are actually flaming about your merchandise as well at this moment I come across the key reason why. daily trade alerts

On the glimpse of this information sites, you could have received quite some practical knowledge having publishing. vidpush review

league to sound more like Iverson, then they wanted Iverson to look less like himself. Neither quite worked.iptv server

I'm keen on ones write-up. It truly is beneficial to discover people verbalize on the cardiovascular system in addition to understanding within this significant theme is usually simply discovered. guidance check out web page. day trade alerts

They look weird, as you might expect. The person on them doesn't really look like Allen Iverson. But then, the NBA never quite seemed compare adt and frontpoint

If somebody wants expert take on the main topic of blogging next I advise him/her to go to this site, continue the fussy job. life insurance policy terms quote

Hey buddies, such a marvelous blog you have made I’m surprised to read such informative stuf online payday loans in virginia

Much obliged concerning taking this chance to examine this; I acknowledge with this and in the event that you have some more data please impart it to me about Bluehost coupon. Luti Car

yoga rishikeshYour work here on this blog has been top notch from day 1. You've been continously providing amazing articles for us all to read and I just hope that you keep it going on in the future as well. Cheers!

I am very sexy Independent Escort in Delhi and you will feel like a king in my company. I am very open minded and fun loving girl so you can share anything with me without any hesitation. Real Estate News

This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. This is very nice one and gives indepth information. Thanks for this nice article. Luti Car

It’s going to be ending of mine day, but before ending I am reading this fantastic piece of writing to improve my knowledge. Real Estate News

My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting insights, will be back for more! rishikesh india yoga

Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. sverige

Nice blog and absolutely outstanding. You can do something much better but i still say this perfect.Keep trying for the best. advice

I may need to thank you for the attempts you have made in making this article.I completely really regarded all parts of it and i in like manner have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site. tellpayless.com

Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! Simply put your blog post to my favorite blog list and will look forward for additional updates. Simply wanted to write down a word in order to say thanks to you for those wonderful tips. Providence plumber

Document look at your blog how for you to all the and additionally Document definitely preferred the software! I mean, great trainers experience articulated the job opinion sufficiently conditions still normally comes with wine basket reasonable like awesome simply because. Most people allow it to looks like an advantageous quest! I’m making my student's dissertations right from right relating to.
learn about debt negotiation

You have set up a nice website,the stuff is good to read.I appreciate your efforts in making this post.credit card debt

Right now for this reason I really like reading through your own weblogs. Dissertations tend to be this type of job particularly if you have virtually..video noticias

perhaps virtually all web guru proposed an identical standard of articles and other content whenever you, the on-line world will be more effective destination. Why not keep writing!
rs232 logger

at this point when I do certain things, people look at it like I’m a superhero, like I’m not supposed to do things.iPad mini cases

I want an individual's place. It is actually superior to observe everyone verbalize within the heart and soul together with readability on this subject necessary area are usually conveniently detected. facts observe webpage.

Preponderance of probabilities lean against the case set up by defendants 1 to 5. DW.1 has not only made material contradictions but in my opinion is otherwise a discredited person in as much as he had contrived with defendants 1 to 5 in bye-passing the requirements ofDDA and having the property mutated in the name of defendants 1 to 5 notwithstanding the act that initially attempt was made to seek mutation on the basis of the will and on DDA insisting that the will be probated, he managed mutation de-hors the will.  sub registrar office mehrauli

We've certainly not after go through a chunk that will details precisely what I truly do together with your the latest web site really does. Thanks a lot to the honor!

buy vine followers with credit card Truly, this article is really one of the very best in the history of articles. I am a antique ’Article’ collector and I sometimes read some new articles if I find them interesting. And I found this one pretty fascinating and it should go into my collection. Very good work! buy usa youtube views

The problem is that you provide may be worth our time and also effort. native american scholarships

shadow fight 2 hack On that website page, you'll see your description, why not read through this. clash of clans triche

Glad to visit your blog, I look forward to more good articles and I think we all like to thank so many good articles, blog to share with us. http://lco2serve.com

Great blog article about this topic,I have been lately in your blog once or twice now.I just wanted to say hi and show my thanks for the information provided. coupon codes

A task easy inside your last web log is really remarkable! Air cleaner will add, As i was confident the fact that the significant difference is really that speech implement however always was sophisticated. At present it’s utterly do- confident enough. Thanks for your time in the encouragement.
adderum review

Any blog seem to imply you've got a large amount of feel by means of making and additionally making offerings via the internet. what about approximately in the form of websites? A fellow worker referred to how the is normally even though it about searching for wonderful specialty essay or dissertation internet websites. Is normally this incredible website a dependable cause?
cognimaxx xl review