December 2, 2004

The Pretty Toney Column: Taking It to the Stands

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I’m a basketball fan, and I’m a hip-hop fan, but I obviously didn’t give a second’s thought to Ron Artest’s burgeoning career as a rapper until he stormed into the stands in Detroit and left a trail of intoxicated Pistons fans in his wake, only to come out with a beer-soaked jersey, a 73-game suspension, and a new reputation as America’s First Psychopath. He somehow surpassed Dennis Rodman as the craziest basketball player ever to wear number 91.

Artest, who goes by Paqman when rapping (probably because the Curb Your Enthusiasm character already took the name Krazee-Eyez Killa), teams up with some dude named Challace on “Da Next Day,” which samples Lauryn Hill’s “Everything is Everything.” Of course the song fails on every possible level. Artest destroys whatever Nas-inspired mystique Queensbridge previously had as a fertile feeding ground for young MCs. It’s remarkable to think that he requested a month off to make songs like this when any respectable rapper could have shit “Da Next Day” out in less than five minutes. Paqman, who’s repeatedly forced to pause in order to realign himself with the beat, devotes an entire verse’s worth of rhymes to the word “a’ight” in lines such as, “We ain’t leavin’ till they sleepin’ a’ight / We gonna sell a million records a’ight.” Whether or not Artest’s mental breakdown ends up generating a platinum-selling amount of interest or not remains to be seen, but if that many people do end up buying his album, then there are going to be one million disappointed record-buyers, more than the industry can afford in its current recessionary state.

We’ll probably never know for sure, but if “Da Next Day” was recorded on November 18th, it could go down in history as the most prophetic song ever put to tape. The chorus tells us that, “No matter what you’re doin’ / Everything is everything, da next day is the best day,” and Paqman spits out that there’s “a lot of craziness in this world today, but the fam’ is beautiful, plus I love my team.” Eerie.

I don’t want to seem like I’m kicking a horse when he’s down and wearing a straightjacket in a padded room — what Artest’s skill as a rapper should really be measured up against is all the other ballers like Shaq, Allen Iverson, and Kobe Bryant who’ve previously tried their hand at the rap game. Where does he stand amongst this accomplished crew? To be honest, I don’t know, because none of them went crazy, therefore I had no reason to listen to any of their songs.

Merry Christmas.

Archived article by Ross McGowan
Sun Staff Writer