The 1990s represented a cultural shift in America. Black athletes like Michael Jordan and Ken Griffey, Jr. were splashed all over sports pages and their gear didn’t stay on the shelves long at any sports apparel outfit.
Similarly, the 90s brought us arguably the greatest Hip Hop rivalry in history: Biggie vs. Tupac. Battle lines were drawn as people raised on the east coast rep’d the Notorious B.I.G. while those on the west side rode for Tupac.
While Biggie and Tupac were both cut down in their primes, Jordan, Griffey, and other black athletes continued to set trends in both black and white America. Griffey was inducted into the baseball hall of fame recently and the Jordan Brand is the most recognizable world wide.
But a disturbing trend surfaced at the dawn of this seismic shift in culture and unfortunately for a lot of men, it continues today and that is hero worship.
I remember a few years back I was riding to work with a dude who had “Hail Mary” blaring over the speakers. When the track was over he said something to the effect of “Man, Tupac was a genius man. He wasn’t just a rapper…..he was more like a poet.”
He continued to wax poetic about how lyrically brilliant Tupac was and how he changed the world…basically suckin’ the rapper’s dick and talking about him like he was a God. I remember thinking to myself “This dude worships Tupac.” To each his own, I thought, but there was something fundamentally wrong with a man worshiping another man.
On the eastern seaboard, New Yorkers and other east coast hip hop fans were also turning Biggie Smalls into a deity. Hyperbolic statements ran rampant during his rise to stardom and like Tupac, a lot of that worship continues today.
Don’t get me wrong here…there’s no doubt that Biggie and Tupac are two of the greatest hip hop recording artists of all time. Their untimely (and eerily similar) deaths only adds to their legend and respective legacies. But grown men in their 40s and 50s talk about these dudes as if they turned water into wine, or cured cancer.
Yes, there’s real value in true art there’s no doubt about it. But as men, we’re blessed with the gift of compartmentalizing the artist from the art. Acknowledge that what these two men did in the studio were great and represented a paradigm shift in the world of hip hop and music in general. But getting tattoos, putting posters on your wall, or putting them in the same class as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Nelson Mandella is not only foolhardy, it’s flat out irresponsible.
As talented as they were, at the end of the day they were simply recording artist who happened to be better at it than most. Men need to stop slobbering over these dudes every time their names come up. Leave that to women who throw their panties on stage when the Beatles are in town.
It’s a sad state of affairs when people camp out at Footlocker for the privilege of paying upwards of $300 for a pair of shoes with the Jordan name on it. I understand that sneaker heads are passionate about footwear and that it helps a lot of people make a good living in that market.
However, the Jordan fetish is symptom of Jordan worship. MJ is widely regarded as the greatest player in NBA history. He is now a business mogul worth over $1 billion and is part owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Needless to say he’s done well in life.
And while it’s fine to admire the achievements of professional athletes, wearing his jersey is one of the most pathetic things a man can do in his life (marrying a slut isn’t too far behind). Wearing another man’s name on your back not only disrespects you as a man, it disrespects your family name. There is no reason to have another name anywhere on you that isn’t yours. Period.
If you’re a fan of a player on a team, cool. Root like crazy for him on game days. If you wanna rep your team, sport a hat or a t-shirt. But wearing a jersey literally tells the world in no uncertain terms that “I have no respect for myself or my family name so I’m living vicariously through the accomplishments of another man who, other than his athletic prowess, is no different from me.”
I’ll be the first to jump down someone’s throat who hates on pro athletes for “making all that money while school teachers and firemen make jack shit!” or how “they should just play for the love of the game!” I can’t stand those simple minded idiots who hate on men who are doing better than them in life.
By the same token, there’s no need to have an athletes poster on the wall or his name on their back. You’re a man. You’re better than that.
If you worship rappers or athletes…
…then you’re not a real man and it’s as simple as that. It’s fine to admire talent and enjoy watching the perform. But when you become a fanboy you’re acting like a boy and not a man. If your son wants to put a poster of Lil’ Wayne or Kendrick Lamar on his wall, that’s cool. If he wants to rock a Kobe or LeBron jersey, that’s fine too. He’s a boy after all and as boys we all have heroes.
But part of growing up is realizing that men who have a few more zeros and commas in their net worth, eat, shit, and sleep just like the rest of us. There’s no need to be a hater but there’s even less of a need to be a star struck worshiper.
Get your shit together and stop acting like a groupie. You owe it to yourself as a man to do so.