ALLEN IVERSON, August 22, 2000

Allen Iverson was named the Sports Athlete of the Year at The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards 2000. Afterward, he talked about his upcoming hip-hop album.

How does it feel to win this award from The Source?

"It means everything. The Source is hip-hop. That's what I am. That's what I live and breathe. Every day."

Talk about the influence of hip-hop on your image.

"It's just about the perception. A lot of people have a bad perception of us because of how we look. Off the top it's about skin color a lot of times. Then there's the braids, the tattoos, the jewelry and everything, and that kind of scares people. But I just want to be the proof for little kids that wear tattoos and baggy jeans and everything to know that you can do something positive with your life. You can make something out of your life and still do it that way and be a good person at the same time. So I'm just trying to change the image up a little bit. Let people know that I can wear baggy jeans and t-shirts and still be able talk to somebody with a business suit on."

What's the status of your album?

"I got like three songs left. It'll come out in February on All-Star Weekend. It's on Universal and it's called Non-Fiction. The first single is "40 Bars."

What's it sound like?

"It's for the streets. I know a lot of people will think that I'll be setting a bad example for kids or whatever, but it's music and it's street and it's the only thing I know. I hope the response is not too bad, but the most important thing for me with the album is that it's for my people in the streets. It's for people that came up like I came up. I might talk about violence on the album, but that don't mean that after I leave the studio I'm gonna go shoot somebody in the face or something like that. It's gonna get some negative things and some positive, that's all."

What's your favorite hip-hop moment?

"My favorite hip-hop moment? Biggie Smalls coming into the rap game. I think that was my favorite moment."

What have you got in your CD player right now?

"Us... crew thick. I don't have to listen to other people's music no more. I used to get mad when I went around the stores and they didn't have the CD that I wanted or when it was a time when no CDs were out and I had to listen to old CDs. Now I got the luxury of just going and making my own song and listening to it if I want to."

What are some of the guests on the album?

"None. Just people from where I'm from. That's the most important thing about the whole album. That's the thing that's gonna be special to me, because you're not gonna go by the record store and see 'such-and-such' on the album, this person on the album. 'Oh, let me get it because I want to see how that person and A.I. get down.' It's not gonna be like that. You're gonna see a lot of people on the album that you've never heard before. You're gonna have to buy the album because you're curious to know if I can rhyme. A lot of people are gonna buy it because I mean something to them besides basketball or something else. I know that. That comes with every artist. But when people hear it, and the streets get a hold of it, it'll do what I think it's gonna do."

What made you decide to do an album?

"I always wanted to do it. The game is so messed up now because you got a lot of basketball players and guys who made it in sports first try to rap and it just stunk the game up...that's why you're laughing, 'cause you know what I mean. It hurt the game. It hurt the credibility for somebody like me that can really, honestly do it. I'm not calling out any names, 'cause I'm not like that, but..."

Why do you think you've been embraced so much by the hip-hop community?

"Because I'm where they from. They can relate to me. Adults say what they want to say about me. A lot of them say different things. A lot of times it hurts, because you know you're not the person that they're trying to make you out to be, but I always just concentrate on kids. You can't come up to no kid and say, 'Allen Iverson is a bad guy' and that kid who loved Allen Iverson ever since he's known Allen Iverson is gonna say, "Okay he's a bad guy. I don't love him no more.' It's just real with me as far as kids. The media writes things about me -- they assassinate my character every chance they get -- but it's hard to convince a kid that I'm a bad person. The media is the media. There's gonna be a million people that love Allen Iverson. There's gonna be a billion people that hate Allen Iverson. Concentrate on the ones that care about you and keep steppin'."

What are some of the most influential albums in your mind?

"All the Redman albums. All the Biggie albums. I'm a big fan of Redman and Biggie. Big time. I mean, I love Kool G. Rap, 'cause he was like before that era. I like Jadakiss from The Lox. I love talented people. I'm far from a hater. You got talent, I love you. Those guys right there I take my hat off to 'em, because they made me want to do this."

What advice do you give to kids who want to be Allen Iverson?

"Whatever you want to be in your life, concentrate on just doing that. It's not about everything else. God gave everybody a talent. It's up to you to recognize what it is. He's gonna put it right in your face. Once you recognize what that talent is, you know what you've gotta do to get to that level. Do everything it takes to get there. If you want to be a basketball player, you know you gotta go to school first. You've got to do the things necessary that it takes to be somebody. If you don't do it, you won't. If you do it, you will."

-- Mason Storm, The 411 Online

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