Post-NBA All-Star Weekend, 2 Chainz, the originator of what I refer to as “Checklist flow” announced that his 2019 album RAP OR GO TO THE LEAGUE has a release date, March 1st. However, the release date is not what has fans going crazy about the 2 Chainz follow up to wildly popular, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music.

THE KING

Amidst rumors of Father Time taking a physical toll on Lebron James, the NBA All-Star has added another hyphen to his multi-hyphenate career title. A&R. According to 2-Chainz, James has spent countless nights over the past year, in the studio helping the recording artist to finalize his project. In an interview clip circulating the net James even suggests a way to repurpose the unreleased project; offering that 2 Chainz grant his audience the gift of a deluxe album including two additional tracks two weeks after the initial release.

Per a statement, Rap or Go to the League “challenges the notion that the only way out of the inner city is either to become a rapper or a ball player… [the album] flips that trope on its head, celebrating black excellence and focusing on the power of education and entrepreneurship.”

 

IS THERE A BETTER FIT?

For a collaboration? Simply put, no.

As a culture rooted in the African American community, we instill both hip hop and hoop dreams as ways for our young men to succeed and garnish riches. However, both of these men have been able to secure professional opportunities in other industries including content creation in film and television, and ownership in food franchises and restaurants. And because they are each at the top of their game, the merging of forces between Lebron James and 2 Chainz can only produce something great.   

For the message? That has yet to be determined.

The primary reason is that that stance is outdated. Inner city kids see so many different examples of black excellence at this time that it is almost insulting to infer that our focus is still on those two professions. With the uprising of black activists, commentators, politicians, tech innovators, and healthcare professionals in the limelight within the past ten years black children have various examples of success today.

Moreover, it is very easy for both of these creatives to say that professional sports and the music industry, or entertainment industry as a whole is not the only one way to make it out of the hood. They are out. And they are out with the various opportunities mentioned above because they used those methods to make it out.

Are They Barking Up The Right Tree?

Ask yourself, is “awareness” or “exposure” the issue? Is it possible that the problem is the persona and the flashiness that comes with the entertainment industry and the professional sports world? That’s what attracts kids and inner city kids in particular to those professions. That attraction strengthens when we are talking about the extremes, extreme poverty, and extreme access by way of money.

Why wouldn’t and who wouldn’t want to skip from the former and go straight to 24k gold chicken wing necklaces (see Nicki Minaj circa 2011) and massive walk-in closets?

Sure, being a doctor is noble and being a lawyer is prestigious. However, as a the United States student loan debt crisis continues to escalate with over 44 million borrowers, it is not highlighted enough that the highly educated at 1.5 trillion in the hole collectively. Yes, Lawyers, doctors, and many others who went on to get post secondary education pay an obscene amount of student loan debt and struggle for a very long time to get comfortable financially. In the vein of entrepreneurship, small businesses can barely get and stay in the black on the year to year basis, and entrepreneurship is very hard when you are a minority looking to qualify for a loan.

Nothing about this is black and white. And with projects like “Trigger Warning” via Killer Mike talking kids out of their dreams and into technical school, it would be beneficial for the hip hop community to hear 2 Chainz and James use this body of work to delve into both sides of the issue:

Side One: How limiting the pursuit of being an athlete or musician can be.

Side Two: How you can pursue those professions when you have the sheer talent and ability to do so, and if you have a love of the game and just so happen to be from the inner city that is OKAY.  

Having the freedom to go into whatever profession that will make you happy is a luxury that we should not shame each other out of having. It will be interesting to see how “RAP OR GO TO THE LEAGUE” impacts the culture’s thinking on that.

Written by Chay Rodriguez