And now, because football is over and baseball can’t get started, we bring you Deion Sanders, a man who clearly has too much time on his hands.
He has come to rap.
“It’s Deion, stepping on the pe-on,
tell me have you seen one?
No, we haven’t Deion.”
I’m not sure what that means, but Deion raps it on his new album, so it must mean something, right? The two-sport superstar — who obviously never sleeps — is in Motown tonight for a concert at the State Theatre.
He’s not attending it, he’s giving it. Deion Raps.
“Being prime time is easy for me
but there’s a big difference between you and me, see?”
True. Here’s one difference: I don’t wear sunglasses indoors.
But that’s just me. I also don’t refer to myself in the third person — although I would like to because then I could say, “Mitch is going to lunch” and it would sound like I was talking about someone else — nor am I surrounded by an entourage.
Deion has an entourage. He came for our interview Tuesday with 1) a tour manager, 2) a regular manager, 3) a record company guy, and 4) several other gentlemen who, near as I can tell, were there to shoo away anyone who might bother Deion. They stood against the wall, nodding when Deion spoke, scowling when I spoke. I assume they are paid for this.
At one point, the record company guy had his arms crossed and his head tilted sideways and was staring at me so intently, I felt compelled to play more of Deion’s CD, “Prime Time” — now available in stores! — before he hurt me.
“Inquiring minds what to know, about the All Pro
so they often ask me why am I so flasy?
They say I got an ego
but it ain’t easy to be me.”
Now, call me old-fashioned, but I don’t consider that a great song lyric. I consider Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” a great song lyric:
“Mama may have, and Papa may have
But God bless the child who’s got his own.”
Billie Holiday didn’t rap.
But as Deion likes to point out, it’s a new era. I ask him about all the celebrating he does on the football field, and he says, “This is a whole new breed of athlete. This isn’t like the days of Dick Butkus.”
True. Can you imagine Butkus doing a rap record?
“I whack your legs, I whack your feet
I whack your head — out comes your teeth.”
Anyhow, Deion is just one in a long line of athletes- turned-rap artists. Shaquille O’Neal sold over a million copies of his rap album — “Shaq Fu” — in which he shouts about his fame and talent. I find this interesting, since every time I interwiew Shaq, I can barely hear him.
There’s also a new CD, “B-Ball’s Best Kept Secrets,” full of NBA stars rapping, and this fall, the NFL plans a compilation called “NFL Jams.”
Personally, I would like to hear someone really unusual on that, say, kicker Morten Andersen of the New Orleans Saints.
“I come from Denmark, I like Ingemar Stenmark . . . “
But that won’t happen. Mostly we’ll hear guys rapping about their cars, their women, their status. And that’s what I don’t get: The point of rap is the lyrics, right? So wouldn’t a record by Deion suggest he has something . .
. to say?
What? I have listened to the entire album. Twice. And near as I can tell, this is Deion’s message: “I’m rich; you’re not.”
The place is packed, nowhere to find a seat
but I don’t worry cause I sit in VIP.
Or . . .
“Now it’s on, to my selection,
which one will it be from your Benzo collection?
My 300? My 420? My 560?”
It sounds like the Home Shopping Network.
Now, before Deion gets bent out of shape — or worse, he sends that record company guy after me — let me state I once made my living as a professional musician, back in the days when you played the notes, you didn’t “sample” them on your computer.
And — surprise! — I like and own a lot of rap music, from artists such as Arrested Development and Queen Latifah, who don’t just sing about themselves.
And I do salute Deion for avoiding gangsta rap.
“That’s not Deion,” he says.
But this is. Songs titled “Prime Time Keeps on Ticking,” “House of Prime” and “2 B Me” — which suggest an artistic inspiration that comes from looking in the mirror.
The music world doesn’t need it, anymore than the sports world needs to see Elton John return a kickoff. I like Deion as an athlete, and he’s far more intelligent than he lets on.
But there’s talent, and there’s marketing. This whole rap- athlete business is being pushed as superstars returning to their roots. But it’s really about money, selling albums the way they sell shoes — by associating them with famous people. As Sanders raps in one of his songs:
“Look deep into my eyes, so you can see
the man who you envy.”
I would, Deion, but you’d have to take off the sunglasses.