In Young, Black, Rich, and Famous, Todd Boyd chronicles how basketball and hip hop have gone from being reviled by the American mainstream in the 1970s to being embraced and imitated globally today. For young black men, he argues, they represent a new version of the American dream, one embodying the hopes and desires of those excluded from the original version.
Shedding light on both perception and reality, Boyd shows that the NBA has been at the forefront of recognizing and incorporating cultural shifts—from the initial image of 1970s basketball players as overpaid black drug addicts, to Michael Jordan’s spectacular rise as a universally admired icon, to the 1990s, when the hip hop aesthetic (for example, Allen Iverson’s cornrows, multiple tattoos, and defiant, in-your-face attitude) appeared on the basketball court. Hip hop lyrics, with their emphasis on “keepin’ it real” and marked by a colossal indifference to mainstream taste, became an equally powerful influence on young black men. These two influences have created a brand-new, brand-name generation that refuses to assimilate but is nonetheless an important part of mainstream American culture. This Bison Books edition includes a new introduction by the author.