Cobbski has lobbed a question my way. He’s asked my answer for who the best writer is when it comes to hip hop literature. I’m going to have to go to my default answer on this one…
Gotta go default because of my relationship with “literature.” Unlike most people, my love affair with words wasn’t spawned by an eary affection with fiction. I’ve always dug reading, but I don’t recall really being too much into fiction when I was younger. As a result, I’m not that keen on fiction now. The closest thing to fiction that I’ve dug recently is the book Hunter S. Thompson wrote about himself five years ago or so. I don’t have it right in front of me, so the title escapes me, but you know this much about Gonzo–no fiction could be as unbelievable as his life.
Did the FBI come to his houses for something he did as a child? I really can’t tell. My ESPN colleagues could probably mine for the truth from his madness better than I could, but I doubt they even could tell. This isn’t a knock, though…Hunter was a real live literary genius, the kind whose work simultaneously motivates me to get better and comes as close to making me insecure as another human can. For someone that’s never been prone to much modesty–but in a healthy way–that’s about as strong a statement as there is.
Jimmy makes me feel the same way. I won’t be where I want to be as a writer until I’m capable of writing my The Fire Next Time, an encapsulation of the world that can be read in less than a day but can literally alter the reader’s life. Altered mine. Were it not for that, I’d either be bartending or bartended way too much.
Anyway, back to this hip hop literature thing. I just don’t do much fiction. I’m told that my favorite writer does fiction, so he is my default answer.
Who? Tate. Greg Tate.
It’s all about Tate. Should you not believe me, you should hear Harry Allen talk about Tate. I did an interview with Harry under less than desirable circumstances–he didn’t like the way that he was quoted in this piece–and one way I was able to get him to relax a little bit was to start talking about our respective influences. We were both Jimmy-philes, but his affection for Tate was amazing to listen to. Harry’s pretty damn legendary, so it was something to hear him talk about someone else the way a generation of folks talk about him.
And when it comes to Tate, we agree. He’s a bit of a vocabulist, which I’m not always in the mood for, but his insight stays dope, and he manages to spit out all that shit without sounding terribly self-indulgent. Amazing.
Anyway, I’m told he writes fiction. I’ll take a stab and say his fiction’s better that everyone else’s, too. I was supposeed to review a bit of pulp fiction Ronin Ro a few years ago, and I just coulnd’t get through it. Some story about a hit man. Stinkin’ hot garbage. Then, the guys at that company wanted me to write one. No dice, pimpin.
But, as far as I know, books like that are the majority of the hip hop literature that you’ll find. I’ll be real…I don’t know. Me and fiction don’t get along. Tayari, my sister, is the one that does fiction. Maybe she can tell you something, but I doubt it.
But me and fiction…I can’t suspend disbelief. Just can’t do it. Plus, I find the real world to be far more compelling than anything someone could make up. Call me kooky like that.
Wait, did any of that make any sense? Oh well…