Take it from the top

UCLA carries a 5'7", 170-pound cornerback named Justin Combs, son of Sean/Diddy. Recently, Combs the elder said, "I will become the first African-American majority owner ... Not having a small stake but actually owning an NFL team ... it's time for that. A majority of players who are in the NFL are African-American, but there are no African-American owners." Combs is of course the founder of Bad Boy Worldwide and Sean John apparel, co-owns cable channel Revolt TV and partners with Diageo (Ciroc vodka) in a deal likely, according to Forbes, to end up making the Harlem native "hip-hop's first billionaire."

There are, as Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill spits: "levels to this s--- ."

No matter how much some might act like the music has changed for the worse or hasn't done enough (most everything falls short when what is desired is fairness and equality), hip-hop with all its flaws has given Generation X and Generation Y -- black and white and Asian and Latin and otherwise -- a common (if male-centered) language. It has given them, in many ways -- some superficial, many real -- a comfort level around each other. And, not least, it has given black athletes a confidence in managing the value of their bodies and intellects in a country that bought and sold both as a matter of course.

"We just want the credit," rhymes Drake in his "Started From the Bottom," a song that might one day be understood for being the monument to unheralded creative genius that it is. "We just want the credit where it's due."

Danyel Smith, a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford, was the editor of Vibe and Billboard. Her top-secret project is HRDCVR.

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