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Documenting hip-hop's greatness

12/21/2011, 6:21 p.m.
Documenting hip-hop's greatness

For the amount of paper generated by the culture, you'd think that entrepreneurs originated in hip-hop culture would be granted a little more respect. Despite the roadblocks, enterprising brothers and sisters press on and continue to make inroads in ventures outside of clothing lines, film or books.

Jay-Z's involvement with the New Jersey Nets is perhaps the most celebrated venture in hip-hop entering the uncharted terrain of professional athletics, sparking a small trend of celebrities with minority stakes in sports franchises, but an event this past Saturday showed that in terms of dealing with athletes on a world-class level, he was beaten to the punch.

After a two-year journey, Showtime's "Super Six World Boxing Classic" came to a conclusion, and after a virtuoso performance, Andre Ward laid claim to the World Boxing Association super middleweight championship, the World Boxing Council super middleweight championship, the prestigious Ring magazine super middleweight title and the Showtime "Super Six" tournament trophy.

In, other words, he is at the very top of the boxing world.

At the dais, addressing the media after his lopsided win, Ward offered, "I'd like to thank God for not only this opportunity and victory tonight, but from day one putting the right team around me. You have a lot of great talent in this sport, and if you don't have the right manager and the right promoter, you can get rushed and put into a bad situation and you'll never know what you had. I didn't have that.

"From day one, I had a manager, James Prince, who I know for a fact is the best in the business. When no one is looking, no reporters are around, he is fighting for his fighter."

What's telling about this statement is that this is the same James Prince who founded one of the most important labels in rap music, Rap-A-Lot Records. Based in Houston, Texas, the label was established in 1986, becoming the world's introduction to Southern hip-hop.

Since its inception, rap luminaries such as Scarface, Bun B, Pimp C, Devin the Dude and the Geto Boys have called the label home. In an interview last year to promote his project "Trill OG," Bun B discussed the significance of the label. "This, to me, is the start of the next 25 years," he said. "Rap-A-Lot has had 25 years of incredible success and impact in the music industry and in the culture of hip-hop, and the lifestyles in the South, Texas and Houston to be exact."

"For me, I truly believe that, right now, I kind of have this label on my back," he continued. "There's a lot of history and there's a lot to live up to what J. Prince has put down."

In honor of its 25th anniversary, Rap-A-Lot Records will release a limited edition box set on Dec. 26 exclusively at Best Buy. The set will include two discs of songs compiled from the Rap-A-Lot catalogue, as well as a DVD with interviews with artists and industry executives such as Lyor Cohen, Russell Simmons, Rev. Run, Jay-Z, Juvenile, Young Jeezy, Mannie Fresh, Birdman and Ronald "Slim" Williams.

A third disc will also be included in the package consisting of covers of classic Rap-A-Lot songs by Lil Wayne, Birdman, Young Jeezy, Big K.R.I.T., Yo Gotti, Trey Songz, Slim Thug, Rick Ross, T.I. and more.

Only 8,000 copies of the box set will be made available.

Just got word that tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 23 for Lenny Kravitz and special guest Raphael Saadiq at Radio City Music Hall on Friday, Jan. 28. More details will follow, but this sounds like a winning stocking stuffer to me.

I'm out for now. Holla next week. 'Til then, enjoy the nightlife.