Although there are always politics galore, fatalistic news and death statistics to write about, this week we’ll do a fun article.

A number of us grew up during the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s of Southern California. Though Beach Boy music may not have been our ‘thrill on the hill’, we all got inundated with Rap music. It couldn’t be helped, since the music was seemingly everywhere. (Amazingly, in the 2020’s Rap music is still going strong. Who would’da thunk it?)

Street hoods got recorded yelling poetic vulgarities at bad cops, the system, American racism, etc. They also talked a lot about toking marijuana, as many of them stayed high in music studios as they recorded. (Here’s another oddity: a more modern street rapper—Kendrick Lamar—was recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize for American literature. Will wonders never cease?)

Southern California’s Snoop Dog, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Ice T, to name a few, did pretty well for themselves financially. Several even gained substantial business acumen along the way. Dr. Dre, producer of the highly successful BEATS BY DR. DRE franchise, even donated a multi-million dollar packet of money to the University of Southern California (USC) a few years back, a school he never could attend as a student.

With the decriminalization of marijuana in California and other states, some of the old-head rappers are even going into that very expensive business on a big scale, becoming major, legit growers and sellers. Life does change strangely sometimes—what was putting scores of brothers and sisters in prison during rap’s heyday now becoming a straight-up business, but only for the well-endowed.

Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson), now in his 50’s, who has made a very substantial name for himself in movies, television, and radio, is one of those who learned his business lessons well from the hood. Recently, (2017) he and his business partner Jeff Kwatinetz chose to take a simple, countrywide practice (playing half-court, three-man basketball) known all over the United States and several other countries, and professionalize it.

The idea has been exceedingly successful thus far, bringing out former NBA stars, including several Hall-of-Famers like Dr. J (Julius Irving), Clyde Drexler and the like. It’s called BIG3 basketball and like the Harlem Globetrotters of yesteryear, games and final tournaments have been taken to many, many American cities, the league has a television contract, and as of June, this basketball franchise is valued at over $1.5 billion.

Already, Ice Cube and his partner have been targeted by other businesses seeking to oust the pair and seize their assets. In the streets, when somebody tried to take from you whatever you were doing, you knew what you were doing must have been all right. There is currently a billion-dollar lawsuit pending against the people Ice Cube considers pirates after his treasure. It’s like street competition in the old days with everybody holding much bigger pots—crazy monopoly money.

At last sight, however, Ice Cube’s ownership stake in BIG3 basketball is not going away. In August of this year, the BIG3 Finals was a huge hit on television, and everybody seemed happy, except the eventual losers of the finals game. All the players regularly got $10.000 per game during the season, paid immediately after each game, and those players in the playoffs get double that, with the winners getting very well paid.

Watching this is tantamount to watching street checkers become a worldwide phenomenon that actually pays players to play what before was just a street game. This is a very good lesson in street economics.

We all need to pay attention. Hats off, Ice Cube…you duh man, bro.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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