Lynne d Johnson



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12.07.06 02:22 PM

Chuck Klosterman Ponders Whether Ali Invented Rap

Chuck Klosterman, author of Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto, and Fargo Rock City : A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota, wrote a meditation for's E-Ticket, "Did Ali Invent Rap? Of course I know the answer is no. It began even before Ali. But anyway, let's see what Klosterman has to say:

  1. While it's difficult to prove Ali invented rap music, it's almost indisputable that he spawned what is now referred to as "the modern athlete," a term that's generally used as coded, pejorative language. When someone complains about "the modern athlete," he or she is usually just saying, "This particular black athlete behaves like a rap star, even though I've never actually listened to rap music in my entire life."
  2. Sports columnists and rock critics have a lot of qualities in common...And this is especially true when the (mainly) white media covers the (mainly) black worlds of football, basketball and mainstream hip-hop. In both instances, journalists remain simultaneously fixated on two paradoxical positions:

    (1.) Most athletes/artists are boring because all they do is repeat safe, meaningless clichés.
    (2.) The few individuals within these idioms who do say provocative, controversial things are ill-informed media whores who should be more grateful that they are rich.

I wonder where Greg Tate or Nelson George were when the idea for this piece came about? They, especially Tate, could have offered a more indepth perspective.

But in the end, the big deal behind whether Ali invented rap or not is more or less marketing hype for ESPN's airing of "Ali Rap" on Saturday @ 9 PM.

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