From Rappers To Sports

Last week, while in New York for business, I was able to have a private meeting with the rapper 50 cent. This was our second encounter, having met for lunch several months ago. I am not someone by nature who is impressed by celebrities, having encountered quite a few in my days working in Hollywood. They constantly have their guard up, constantly wear a mask, and this mask is generally not too interesting to me. I get a lot more out of conversations with cab drivers, waitresses, even insurance salesmen. Not to mention con artists and criminals, who fascinate me. I could think of no greater nightmare than being married to some celebrity, some actress and being enclosed in that fake, air-kissing world.

But rappers are different. They come from a place that is all too real and no matter how high they climb, they remain tied to the past. I don’t have wide experience in this area–I have met Ludacris, talked on the phone with Busta Rhymes (whom I will meet next week), and then 50. But what I sense in these encounters is that they are not just musicians, but strategists going to war in the most cut-throat industry known to man. And among them, 50 is the supreme strategist.

In the hour and a half I spent with him, he talked about his various beefs with other rappers, the music business, his film career, his drug-dealing days, on and on. But it wasn’t so much the content that interested me; instead, it was his perspective, which oddly enough reminded me of my own. He likes to break everything down, see things as a game, analyze the maneuvers of the various players in his life, take apart their attempts to gain an advantage over him. Like myself, he is obsessed with warfare and stories of great generals. He is intensely competitive and I would not want to cross swords with him, and I won’t, I promise. But despite the thug image he cultivates, he strikes me as a strategist. Perhaps the Muhammed Ali of rappers. He is smart and calculating, and if you know me, you know I have a great affection for such qualities.

Personally, he has tremendous charisma and fits to a T the charismatic profile that I detailed in Seduction. Charismatics generally come from broken homes, and turn to the audience, to the public to get the attention and love they did not get from their parents. He is charming and surprisingly open. I cannot share with you everything at this point about our meeting, but I will soon enough. In any event, I recommend reading his autobiography From Pieces to Weight. It is much better than the movie based on it, Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

As part of my trip to New York I was given some excellent tickets to a Yankee game, and this game spurred the following thoughts. It happened to be against the Red Sox. The stadium was packed. As the game progressed and more beer was imbibed, fights broke out here and there. I can tell you, there is some real animosity between the fans on both sides. It was one lively game, and emotions ran high, despite the fact the Red Sox were already out of the playoff picture.

Now, I grew up a Dodgers fan, and we Angelenos can point to the Dodger-Giant rivalry, but if you ever happen to go to a game at Dodger Stadium and see one of these games, you will be surprised at how meek and gentle the Dodger fans can be. This has always bothered me. Sports, to me, should be an outlet for our aggressive impulses. What excites me about sports, and I am a fanatic, is the pure competitive element. No bullshit, no politics, just proving yourself on the field. And of course the strategies that give one side the advantage.

What I see nowadays is that so much of this edge is being softened and it depresses me. Some of this comes from the huge salaries these players make. They see themselves as all part of a millionaires club. They don’t bear any animosity to the other side. They are friends. Some of this comes from our PC culture. And also, people follow teams from all around the country, or globe, and no longer have the deep ties they used to. But for three hours in Yankee Stadium I felt transported back into the past when hatred, an emotion we all feel, could be channeled into a game and it was exhilarating.

I am a Yankee hater from way back, but damn, I can appreciate the passion they bring to the game. It makes me jealous. Maybe I have to move to New York.

Finally: I have a column in Maxim Magazine called Work Wars. The title speaks for itself. The first issue is out. If you have any topics or stories I really encourage you to pass them along. We will create a separate thread for your ideas. I am looking for stories about wars in your office space, manipulative monsters you have squared off with, advice you desperately need. I may quote you in the column. So please, help me here. Thanks!

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