Sounds Ridiculous: The Problem With Athletes' Music Labels

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At Sports Illustrated, Chris Mannix has both a cool name and a brief, somehwat saddening column about Roy Jones Jr., whom you probably remember as the best fighter of the 1990's and almost certainly do not remember as a hip-hop artist. With all due respect to the proto-Hype Williams aesthetics on display in the album cover at left, and due deference to Jones's work with Pensacola, Florida supergroup Body Head Bangerz, Jones was much better at boxing than he was at rapping, or running a record label (Body Head Entertainment, which is admittedly a pretty good name).

Rooftop like we bringing '88 back.

That's understandable, because Jones was better at boxing than just about anyone is at anything during his heyday, when he won titles at three weight classes and looked effectively unbeatable for nearly a decade; also, to be fair, he rapped like this. But Jones's experience with Body Head was so bad, and so expensive, that he's now back in the ring. Jones is 42, and won a cruiserweight fight last Saturday against someone named Max Alexander, who hadn't fought in over two years. Before that, Jones had been knocked out twice in two fights.

This was not the endgame Jones had planned, obviously, and while it's easy enough to believe him when he says that he wants to win a cruiserweight title—it is the one weight class at which he hasn't won a belt—it's tough to believe that he wouldn't prefer getting paid well for being a (very good) boxing commentator on HBO to getting knocked unconscious by obscure cruiserweights in front of smallish crowds so that he can pay his back taxes.

It is not, of course, new to hear that bad investments, bloated entourages and sprawling air-conditioned McManses on bummer-ass Florida lagoons have conspired to painfully prolong an athlete's careers, although Jones blaming internet file-sharing for Body Head's failure is fairly novel. But where there's something amusing about goofing on Bernie Williams for his audio-Ambien waiting room-jazz, say, former NBA guard Troy Hudson selling 78 copies of his hip-hop album, it's mostly because we can assume that it's just an instance of a hubristic hobbyist learning an ego-deflating lesson about how poorly outsized ability translates between pursuits. Chris Webber making beats or Marquis Daniels fucking around with raps is fine, at least on the sliding scale we use to judge tall, wealthy people's side gigs. It gets harder to chuckle over when someone goes broke over it, or is put into a position that compels him to get punched in the face because he has liens on everything. I guess what I'm saying here is that I'm worried about Ron Artest. But I'm always kind of worried about Ron Artest.

Also, I'll be devoting some blog-space to the discussion of music by athletes, so if you've got something that you think I ought to know about—the long-rumored Elton Brand basement tapes, for instance—go ahead and let me know about it. Until then I'm going to invest wisely and hang out in this choreography-afflicted mansion with Kurupt, Chris Webber and an extravagantly be-jacketed Ghostface.

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