Emmy-award winning sports journalist and host Bomani Jones has his Black history knowledge tested all while schooling Dr. Christina Greer on why Michael Jordan is the NBA goat. Jones’ love for hip-hop music and season two of his HBO series “Game Theory with Bomani Jones” are also highlights of the conversation.
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[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:00:06] Hi and welcome to the Blackest Questions. I’m your host, Dr. Christina Greer, politics editor for theGrio and associate professor of political science at Fordham University. In this podcast, we ask our guest five of the Black as question so we can learn a little bit more about them and have some fun while we’re doing it. We’re also going to learn a lot about Black history past and present. So here’s how this works. We have five rounds of questions about us. Black history, the entire diaspora, current events, you name it. And with each round, the questions get a little tougher and the guest has 10 seconds to get it right. If they answer the question correctly, they’ll receive one symbolic breakfast and they’ll hear this. And if they get it wrong, they’ll hear this. But we still have them anyway. And after the five questions, there’ll be a Black bonus round at the end. Just for fun. Our guest for this episode is Emmy Award winning journalist, host and producer Bomani Jones. Bomani has own show on HBO entitled Game Theory with Bomani Jones.
Game Theory with Bomani Jones [00:01:02] College basketball was better when Duke was the official team of white America. Ten years ago, if Duke would have played the Klu Klux Klan, we would have rooted for a 0-0 tie.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:01:10] And he’s also the host of the wildly popular ESPN podcast The Right Time with Bomani Jones. Bomani has spent nearly 20 years in sportscasting and once had a successful radio career and show that he turned into a podcast back in 2011, becoming a pioneer in this space. Bomani is also a commentator that you’ll see everywhere from CNN to late night talk shows. And in 2016, he was named one of the most influential African-Americans in the country. Hello, Bomani. Thank you so much for joining the Blackest Questions.
Bomani Jones [00:01:38] Oh, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:01:40] I’m really excited. I think I first started watching you on Highly Questionable. Is that highly questionable H.Q.. Yeah. And I would go to the gym and time it just so I could be on the treadmill and watch the show. But now we’re going into season two of Game Theory, which premieres this month. Tell our listeners a little bit more about Game Theory if they haven’t seen it yet.
Bomani Jones [00:02:06] Nah. Game Theory it is a late night show that is fairly sports specific, but we definitely try to do a show where if you are a person who’s really into sports and you’re watching television with somebody with whom you have to negotiate the television, who isn’t that into sports, we need to show that that second person can also be into also. So it’s me. We’ve got a full writer’s room. We do deep like longer essays, somewhat in the vein of John Oliver, but not really the same as those wind up going on. We got field segments that we do. We got like we’re basically taking my ideas on sports that you may have heard me have on a podcast or on television somewhere, and then we’re really putting them in three dimensions. Like we got more resources than we’ve ever had, at least that I’ve ever had before, to put them together. And so just figure out what is like the most lush way that we can illustrate the things that kind of bounce around in my head.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:02:54] I love it because I like the fact that it’s a multi-dimensional show, not just for sports heads. Because I find myself, I’m like a casual viewer in the sense that there are certain seasons where I’m more into sports and others. But I love the fact that there’s so much politics in sport. Obviously, I care a lot about Black people. So like when we combine the conversation of race and sport and class and all the different dimensions, I feel like the show encapsulates that really beautifully.
Bomani Jones [00:03:20] I appreciate that. And that’s really just kind of what we’re going for here is there’s a lot that’s going on here, but it’s hard to put it all together at one time. So that is the ambitious goal that we’re going for, is trying to figure out how to run this all together and make it something coherent.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:03:33] Well, I’m going to say, Doctor Christina Greer says that you’re hitting the mark.
Bomani Jones [00:03:36] I appreciate it.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:03:37] Because everyone cares what I think. So tell your bosses is “Chrissy Greer likes your show.” Okay. You also won a sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Documentary series in a film about NFL wide receiver Randy Moss. How and why did you choose Randy Moss? I remember growing up and loved watching Randy Moss play.
Bomani Jones [00:03:54] Well. What was interesting about that was many, many years ago I was trying to write a book that was very much so featured on Randy Moss. When, you know, the book proposal thing, a lot of them want you to write a sample chapter. So I had written a sample chapter about Randy Moss, his journey from high school to the NFL draft. Like, that was the sample chapter that I had done, but I didn’t really have time to follow through on it and just kind of put it on the shelf. And then three or four years later, a meeting with an executive from ESPN and he tells me, So we’re working on a documentary about Randy Moss, and it stretches from when he’s in high school to when he gets drafted. And I just happened to have, like all this research. I still have the research binder here and all the notes and everything that I had happened to do on it. And so the project was already well underway. It was directed by a gentleman named Marqise Daisy, who was the first ESPN employee to direct a 30 for 30, which is the documentary series that this was a part of. And so he did really most of the work. But I just came in with some of my insights and then the whole series gets an Emmy. So everybody who did a 30 for 30 that year was on a certain level, wind up getting an Emmy. I got the thing over my shoulder right now. So I always say, I got this Emmy. I don’t know if I won it necessarily, but I definitely got it.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:06] Okay, you have it. It’s on your shelf and you’re one quarter of a way to an EGOT. So I mean, that’s more than what.
Bomani Jones [00:05:13] Please understand not winning it and just getting it is a lot more fun.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:16] Right.
Bomani Jones [00:05:17] Like it’s just all profit here. It’s just all come up.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:20] Okay, so I want to borrow the Emmy just so I can put it on the back of my shelf. It’s like, Well, I got the Emmy, too. It’s like I just I’ll put it in fine print. I got it from Bomani, but I got an Emmy, too. Okay. So are you ready to play Blackest Questions?
Bomani Jones [00:05:33] Let’s go.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:33] Okay, let’s do it. Question number one for Bomani Jones. This person was the first Black owner of a major professional sports team in the United States. Who are they?
Bomani Jones [00:05:44] I believe that that is Robert Johnson.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:48] You are correct, Robert. Bob Johnson bought the Charlotte Bobcats in 2002. He later sold the Bobcats to Michael Jordan, making Michael Jordan the first athlete to be the majority owner of an NBA team. Jordan later changed the name of the Bobcats back to the Hornets. Hornets, which was the original name of the team. And Bob Johnson is also known, as many listeners may know, as co-founding BET. So we know that you went to grad school at UNC Chapel Hill, which is the same college where Michael Jordan attended, the same state where the Charlotte Hornets play. This is a debate that I hear a lot, not just on ESPN, but obviously in the circles that I run in. Who’s the GOAT? Are you in the camp that Michael Jordan is the GOAT or is it LeBron? Or do you have someone else in mind?
Bomani Jones [00:06:31] No, it’s Michael Jordan. I don’t ever really engage people so much in the in the discussions about that one, because you can lay it out all out papers say everything that you want, and then all you got to do is go on YouTube and watch Michael Jordan and suddenly the discussion is over. Like, it’s just one of those things where you just look at it. You’re like, No, nobody’s ever been better at this than this guy was. I just. I just don’t know how anybody ever walks away from watching anything from Michael Jordan and then is like, “Yeah, if only if he was as good as that other guy.” And that’s no shade to the other guy. It’s just that Michael Jordan is that dude.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:07:01] Okay, so I got it. I got to push this question, though, when we talk about the entire person. Do you still, like when I compare Michael Jordan and let’s just say LeBron, I add in kind of social justice, I add in how vocal he’s been about like the time and the moment. And there were times in the eighties and even the nineties where I wanted Michael Jordan to say and do more with his power, obviously prestige and his money. I don’t really know what he does with all of his money, so I can’t fully speak on that. But I wanted him to be a little more overt in the social justice space. I add that in my rubric of the GOAT, and that’s why I feel like LeBron ekes out Michael in that space. Do you not.
Bomani Jones [00:07:43] I don’t do that.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:07:43] Count outside stuff.
Bomani Jones [00:07:44] Nah, nah, nah.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:07:46] Okay. Sports only.
Bomani Jones [00:07:46] Not to Michael Jordan as bad person but I’ve come to terms with the fact that bad people have good stuff all the time. So I don’t need to like go out to the side and try to figure out how to let the person I like win a little bit more easily. Like I do think LeBron has done a lot of very, very good work. I think that Mike has done more that people probably aren’t aware of in some ways. There’s also era questions about this one, like the era in which Michael Jordan was coming into our consciousness was a much different one, where it’s not like it’s not like everybody else was out here burning it down. And then Michael Jordan was all alone being quiet. You know.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:08:22] It’s not like Charles Barkley was like leading the charge on the picket line.
Bomani Jones [00:08:25] Yeah. You know, and Charles was like, Charles was ahead on the things that he wanted to be ahead. All right? Like, he’s just all over the place in terms I got to think there’s really a consistent ideology. So, you know, sometimes you like it, sometimes you didn’t. But no, I give LeBron all the credit in the world for what he has done for the world. He just not Michael Jordan was the time to come into a gym.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:08:44] Okay. So what about competition? Do you feel Michael Jordan played against slightly more difficult competitors than, say, this era of LeBron James and the current NBA?
Bomani Jones [00:08:58] I think I think that the current NBA has more excellent players than any era the NBA has ever had. It is also worth noting this era, the NBA has more teams, so the distribution of the talent is a bit more even. But I’d say yes, there are more really good players now than there were. But at the top level, like that echelon that you talk about that Jordan is on. That is about the same, right? Like when you start getting into the most excellent of every era, they can match up with the most excellent of every era. Like that typically how that winds up going.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:09:32] The Rushmores are the same?
Bomani Jones [00:09:33] Yes, Yes. Like Babe Ruth is still the greatest baseball player of all time, even with everything that there was to say at every knock that there is to have and everything you could talk about time or whatever you go look at, like just if you just looked at numbers and everything else, you realize nah, they probably still haven’t created one as good as that one in that time. Like, sometimes it happens.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:09:51] Gotcha. Oh, Babe Ruth, that’s a whole nother podcast episode where I’ll bring it back where we can talk about Babe Ruth in Harlem. Okay, so we’re going to take a quick commercial break. I’m with Bomani Jones and you’re listening to the Blackest Questions.
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Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:37] And we’re back and we’re playing the Black as questions with Bomani Jones. Bomani, are you ready for question number two?
Bomani Jones [00:10:42] Let’s go.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:43] You’re on a roll. This author is a Spelman graduate who wrote a book that was selected for Oprah’s 2018 Book Club and won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. She’s currently a professor at Emory University. Who are they? And bonus. What is the name of the book?
Bomani Jones [00:11:01] Her name is Tayari Jones, and the book is called An American Marriage.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:04] Right. Right. So Tayari Jones, his book, An American Marriage, is about an African-American couple whose lives are shaken when the husband is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. President Barack Obama included An American marriage on his summer reading list back in 2018. Tayari has spoken about author Toni Morrison’s influence on her work, specifically Song of Solomon, for its portrayal of the Black middle class and characterization of Black female characters. Also, Tayari is big on his older sister and is a successful novelist. Their parents are academics who participate in the civil rights movement. And I was telling Bomani before we came on air to our listeners here that his father, Dr. Mac Jones, was one of the founders of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, of which I am a lifetime member. So growing up in the Jones household, was everyone reading and writing at all times?
Bomani Jones [00:11:52] Nah. I wouldn’t say that. Like, I think that when people hear all that stuff, they think that like, it’s almost like living.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:58] Everyone has a typewriter at the dinner table.
Bomani Jones [00:12:00] Yeah. Nah, Nah, Nah. So the thing you got to remember is my siblings are all much older than me. Like, my nearest sibling is ten years older than me. So I didn’t grow up with them, you know, like in the house or in that sort of thing. Like, I don’t I don’t think our family existence was really that terribly differ from what I would go to other people’s houses. Like even I think you know real easy with your parents being professors and all that stuff that people make like a Huxtables comparison. But, you know, we weren’t just sitting around here pretentiously listening to jazz all the time and wear sweaters and slacks in the house and stuff like that. Like, it wasn’t that. Like we are actually are pretty decidedly, for lack of a better term, like a regular set of people. Where I got the exposure and like a real benefit on that is like I was going to a college campus after school every day, you know, like that’s that’s where I would get to, like, kick it and spend the time and everything else. Like that was the big win for me was in that.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:53] Okay, I’m just I’m going to take what you just said. Now, that is a dig, considering I was just listening to Miles Davis on vinyl and I am wearing a sweater.
Bomani Jones [00:13:02] Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. I was listening to Miles Davis the other day, but, you know, Bill Cosby with The Cosby Show was definitely trying to make an overt presentation of what he thought you should be like.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:13] Absolutely.
Bomani Jones [00:13:13] And we were there was nothing What you should be in that forum like that was like definitely like a moralistic sort of what you should be. But no, my daddy is not really in line with all that pretense. I don’t think your Miles Davis inclination is pretense, but, you know, you know them people I’m talking about.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:29] I sure do. Now, growing up, because for me, I read fiction when I need to start writing my academic articles, I read fiction because I need to hear language and just let it roll around in my head. Do you read anything in particular before you start writing, or when you were growing up? What did you what were you drawn to?
Bomani Jones [00:13:48] Like, I always got a joke that I’m probably not as well-read as people think. Like I’m well read in terms of like periodical type stuff. Like I’m always there. I’ve never really gotten into reading fiction for whatever reason. That’s never really been my bag. I do love a good bio, right? I love a good essay collection when I get there, but when it’s time for me to write, I really just write. Like it’s going to kind of come out however it does. The thing I figured out about writing or the trick for me to get it going is you got to write everything down. Like if it comes out and you put it together, write it down. You don’t have to use it, but it’s there and it’s something may come back later off of it, but that’s really my only trick. But when it, you know, the times when I do write, which isn’t as often as it used to be, it just I just throw it down there, you’ll figure it out later. You got enough bouncing around there to make it work.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:35] So I call that ugly writing. So I always tell my students I’m like, just ugly, right? It’s like when I play tennis, I call it ugly tennis. My goal is just to get the ball across the net. I was like, I’ll work on my form later on. I just right now I need a win psychologically so I can keep going. So when I write, I’m just like, get something out and then I can clean it up later.
Bomani Jones [00:14:52] I saw an interview with the writer from I think it was a writer from The Simpsons, and he made like the simplest point that felt incredibly profound, which was, whatever it is, just write it down. Because if you don’t write it down, we can’t fix it. Like, if you put it down, you can improve it. You can’t improve zero. Like, just give yourself something to work with.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:14] Mm hmm. Something to mold. I mean, that’s the thing. You know, the sentences you can edit and clean up or delete. You know, I used to also get very attached to sentences that just, to me, sounded beautiful. And I had a professor once who was like, then just put them in a file, like, they can’t be in this paper, they can’t be in this essay, but, like, you are attached to them, but they make no sense. So it’s like ubiquitous melancholy put it someplace else and you can either come back or just delete it at some point in time.
Bomani Jones [00:15:42] And I right at this point, like an economist, and what I mean by that is I had a professor my first year grad school, and it was to me, I thought it was the best writing exercise every got was that every paper had a 800 word maximum, but it was not a minimum, it was a maximum. And it was cool because all of a sudden you learn like, Hey, maybe you can figure out how to put a graphic in here. That’s not a word, right? Or chart or something like that. You know, like to get your mind. The day that you realized that the books you’re reading are the books that you’re training to write. And so the things that are in, you know, like it was that kind of thing. But I view the writing, like in terms of what it is that you write and why I don’t typically have a whole lot of pretty sentences and stuff is that what you learned in economics is effort is costly, right? Reading is effort. You have to offer a payout to the reader that is greater than the cost of the effort that it takes for them to read it. And that typically means get in and get out as quickly as you possibly can. Right. Ideas are far more important than the words, and you save a lot of time that way, too.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:16:45] That’s right. I remember I had a conversation once with Ta-Nehisi Coates and, you know, again, someone says something that’s kind of straightforward and simple, but really profound. And I said, you know, I really struggle with writing. And he just looks at me and he says, “Chrissy, everybody struggles with writing.” And I don’t know why that completely changed my world, where I could sort of envision Toni Morrison and James Baldwin and whomever sitting at the typewriter actually struggling to get things out. And I was like, “Oh, everyone’s basically the same.” We sit down, I write longhand like Frederick Douglass, like I have, you know, a legal notepad and I buy myself nice fountain pens and get get started that way.
Bomani Jones [00:17:23] I mean, all you see from anybody is the end.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:17:26] Mm hmm.
Bomani Jones [00:17:26] You have absolutely no idea how they got there. All you see is the end.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:17:30] Oh, okay. So next podcast, you’ll come on, we’ll just have a whole section on the writing process, and we’ll go from there. We’re going to take a quick commercial break. I’m talking to Bomani Jones and you’re listening to the Blackest Questions. And we’re back. Bomani Jones is killing it on the Blackest Questions. Are you ready for question number three, sir?
Bomani Jones [00:17:53] Let’s go.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:17:53] Okay. This African ethnic group makes up 21% of the Nigerian population, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Who are they?
Bomani Jones [00:18:04] Huh. I am going to roll the dice on this one and say the Hausa.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:18:10] Oh, so close. It’s the Yoruba people.
Bomani Jones [00:18:13] It’s Yoruba. Okay, I had.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:18:15] Yoruba.
Bomani Jones [00:18:15] My reasons I guessed the Hausa. I thought that you were getting cute with on something but you did not.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:18:20] And, you know, and I took Yoruba. I went to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. So I speak a little bit of Yourba and my Yoruba name is Adeyemi. And during the month of January, theGrio is amplifying Africa, as we call it, with unique content and conversations. The Yoruba people are a West African ethnic group that inhabit Nigeria, Togo and Benin. And in the United States, there are over 150,000 people who speak the Yoruba language. So when I took it, I took it just because my best friend from college, her parents are from Nigeria. They speak Yoruba and I thought it would be great for me to learn how to read and write. I didn’t have a lot of folks to practice with. So, you know, as with most languages, if you don’t use it, you lose it. But your middle name is Babatunde, which is your before the father returns or the father has returned. And you lived on the continent for a short time when you were three years old. Where did you live?
Bomani Jones [00:19:10] We lived in Nigeria. And that was the reason I guessed Hausa that we lived in a town called Zaria in the North, which was a Hausa area, as I recall it. But the parents had Fulbright that year, and so we went and did a year at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:19:28] Now, do you go back to the continent often or have your travels for work or personal take?
Bomani Jones [00:19:34] No, I have not. I have not been back there since actually. It just has not quite come up and now realize that all the upwardly mobile Blacks are now going to Ghana every new year. But now I did not make it. I have not made it back yet.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:19:49] I got to say, this might cause a little controversy, I like West Africa. You know, I love Ghana. It’s beautiful. I actually really love East Africa. Like Uganda, Tanzania. That’s I feel like I know we’re all from you know, we can do our our DNA and 23 of me. But there’s something about East Africa that makes me feel like I am right where I’m supposed to be. What’s on your what’s on your bucket list of places, you know, besides partying in Ghana?
Bomani Jones [00:20:15] Yeah. No, I want like, East Africa is something that I’ve looked at, like Seychelles and those types of areas, they look actually dope. I want to get to South Africa also. I have not made it. It’s wild. I don’t know. I just I didn’t really get into, like, the super travel thing really until like the last five years or so, honestly, because I didn’t really have enough money to be doing that. I don’t really understand how you be doing it like that, but whatever.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:41] Listen, after this, I will tell you all of my secrets. I should just write them. I should write a book on how to travel, on a different type of budget. On a myriad of budgets.
Bomani Jones [00:20:52] Yeah. I also want to get down to South America. Like I haven’t done Brazil. Brazil would be cool. That’s on the list of things I want to do.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:59] Absolutely. I’m going to take a quick commercial break. You’re listening to the Blackest Questions. I’m here with Bomani Jones. And we’ll be right back. And we’re back. You’re listening to the Blackest Questions. Bomani, are you ready?
Bomani Jones [00:21:15] Lets go.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:21:15] Okay. You’re still killing the game. I love it. This city is internationally renowned for its world class, Black owned restaurants and cuisines. For ten days, every year, dozens of Black owned restaurants and Black culinary professionals participate in this event that highlights their contributions to the city’s food scene. What is the event called.
Bomani Jones [00:21:35] This Restaurant Week in Harlem?
Dr. Christina Greer [00:21:38] Close. Houston Black Resturant Week. So Houston Black Restaurant Week was founded by three friends in 2016. Black Restaurant Week is dedicated to celebrating the flavors of African American, African and Caribbean cuisine nationwide. It’s food, trucks, bakeries, mom and pop shops, and all Black owned food establishments are welcome to participate. It started in Houston, and it’s expanded to more than a dozen cities nationwide, including New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New Orleans. And Black Restaurant Week’s website also serves as a hub year round to help people find Black owned eateries near them. So I know you were born in ATL, but you grew up in Houston. You’ve lived in Miami and North Carolina. You’re now in New York. Who has the best food.
Bomani Jones [00:22:24] I mean, New York is going to beat just about everybody on that just because of the sheer volume, Right. Like this out of the forces of urban economics go. Like whatever it is you got on your mind is probably 10 minutes away.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:22:37] Mmm.
Bomani Jones [00:22:37] Right in high quality.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:22:38] And it doesn’t close at 9 o’clock.
Bomani Jones [00:22:39] Right. And the price is probably not bad by the forces of competition. Like all those places on food are very interesting and different by Miami, I think is a bit overrated on food, because so much of what goes on in Miami is catered to a people who are only going to be there for a couple of minutes. Like my problem with so many places I went in Miami is all the seasoning twas outside on the meat, it wasn’t on the inside, you know what I mean? Like, you didn’t you didn’t really get it in that way. North Carolina is real strong in like around the time, like as my time there was ending, they were really starting to get a reputation for it, like Durham, where I lived in particular. I think The New York Times even came down and did a thing about the food scene as it was going to barbecue scene there strong, just like Houston got strong barbecue scene. And like L.A. is different Mexican food. But any place that’s got like real Mexican food, like, you know, like, I really like I don’t need to be fancy. Like, I want my barbecue place to make my clothes smell bad. I feel very similar about mexican food.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:23:35] I need I need the brother to be dripping sweat. I need there to be sawdust on the floor. Like, I need that apron to be greasy. Yeah, but we’re just like let’s not think about all the other things.
Bomani Jones [00:23:47] Yeah, no, like, Raleigh had a couple of spots where they figured out how to give you that vibe, but also ambiance, shall we say. But generally speaking, I ain’t looking for no ambiance on a barbecue place, I’m just in this for some barbecue.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:23:59] Right. Some barbecue. Now, see, when I travel, especially internationally, I’m a big fan of street meat. Like the people who are cooking on the street. That’s what I want to eat, you know, like I don’t want to eat where other tourists are. I want to. I want to be where the people are. So my secret. Are you ready for my secret? To make sure that everything is, you know, on the up and up? I have a small glass of Coca-Cola every morning. It just kills out all the germs and it just lays a nice little lining so you can eat whatever your heart desires the entire day and you’re good to go.
Bomani Jones [00:24:30] Interesting. I’ll keep that in mind
Dr. Christina Greer [00:24:31] So when you go to South Africa, just have a little shot of Coca-Cola every morning and you’re great.
Bomani Jones [00:24:37] Good to know.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:24:38] Yes. Okay. So are you in your travels, because I know professionally your work takes you to very, you know, lots of different cities, what’s kind of the first thing you do when you go to a new city? Like, what are you looking for? Are you looking for restaurants or are you looking for the hood? Like, what’s your your game plan when you go to cities and you have a little bit of time to kind of explore?
Bomani Jones [00:24:58] Oh, that is a good question. Like if I’m doing it all domestic travel, like my first move is like, where’s the CVS or something? Load of room with like your basic level essentials. Okay, cool. Then from there, you’re probably looking for food, right? Like, I’m probably gonna be there, but for so long, the best way that I can do the things that I need to do while I also get a handle on this place is by getting the food game right.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:20] That’s right. Now, do you cook at all?
Bomani Jones [00:25:23] “At all” is as an interesting way to put it, I’ve cooked before. But I’m not like totally foreign to the concept. I wouldn’t say I do it regularly at this point.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:33] This is a pot. You are well aware of this.
Bomani Jones [00:25:36] Yeah, I know what to do with those things too. But if you ask me the last time I did, you know.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:42] Okay. Do you have a go to dish?
Bomani Jones [00:25:44] No. I mean, it’s been so long, honestly, not really. I live in the delivery capital of the world.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:49] That’s right. Right.
Bomani Jones [00:25:50] We’re just talking all this about New York food. What would I be if I was not, like, putting that to work? It’s one of the perks of being here.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:55] I am going to say, you sound like Eric Adams, our mayor of New York City, who says, you know, you got to try out the the local nightlife. You have to try out the local cuisine. So you and Eric Adams are lowkey twins.
Bomani Jones [00:26:06] Yeah. Yeah, I wouldn’t say that again.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:09] This is where Bomani’s cuts out and he leaves my show. Never to return again.
Bomani Jones [00:26:13] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like I just met you. You know what I’m saying? Right.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:20] I apologize. Okay. We’re going to take a quick commercial break. Hopefully, Bomani will join us when we return. We’ll see. Okay, We are back. I’m with Bomani Jones. We’re in our last question before we get to the bonus round. Bomani, are you still there? Are you with me?
Bomani Jones [00:26:37] Let’s go.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:39] Okay. In 2004, this hip hop act became the first hip hop group to win the Grammy for Album of the Year. Who are they and what was the album?
Bomani Jones [00:26:49] That’s Outkast and Speakboxxx/The Love Below.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:52] That’s right. You are correct. SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below is the fifth studio album from Atlanta duo Outkast made up of Andre 3000 and Big Boi. This critically acclaimed album has been certified Diamond selling over 11 million copies. And no hip hop artist has won the album of the year category since. Now I have it on a CD and vinyl, so I guess I’m part of the the consumer base that helped make it 11 million copies. I have to admit, though, when listening to SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below, I was a huge fan of Love below and really didn’t get down with SpeakerBoxxx. It was years later before I, I really sort of developed an affinity to SpeakerBoxxx. Where are you on that album?
Bomani Jones [00:27:31] Yeah, yeah. It took a long time for y’all to figure it out.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:27:34] Oh “Y’all.” I’m in the “y’all” category.
Bomani Jones [00:27:36] Oh yeah, you’re in “ya’ll” category. And it was so enthralled with the idea of Andre 3000 that the very existence of The Love Below made it such that people were so all over it, and it just took them so long to realize, “Wow, theres just a really bangin rap album over here waiting for you.” And he kills it from track to track and it’s really smart and it talks about all of these. It says a lot more about the world than The Love Below does, right? Like, The Love Below is interesting, but it is ultimately a not that talented singer trying to sing all the way through. Now where he raps on there he is incredible and it’s mind blowing and it’s everything else and he’s a great producer and his drum programing game is incredible and there haven’t been a lot of albums that really sounded like that. They came out. All of it. All of it, All of it. But SpeakBoxxx since day one to me has been the one off of that album to point to.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:27] Why don’t we talk about Big Boi more in like the pantheon of great rappers?
Bomani Jones [00:28:32] Because people are biased against Southern is the answer to that question is simply that he doesn’t look like what they think a dope emcee is supposed to be. And this was also especially when juxtaposed against Andre, who kind of had this bohemian esthetic that was out there that makes people who want to act like they’re smarter than they are, feel like they’re latching on something that’s smarter than it is. Not that he is a smart, but it was just kind of like he fit the vibe of all this other stuff that was out there. And then people latched on to it and it Big Boi over here talk about Cadillacs and pimpin and they can’t see what else is there beyond that, because once they see his esthetic, they get locked in. Once they see the esthetic of Big Boi, they view that as something narrow. When they see the esthetic of Andre, they think about what else there is beyond it. Right. Like they go to this other place. But in the end, as a reason, they was in the same group, right? Like, like when you really stop and think about that. But that’s what I always think it comes down to, is that people generally struggle with the idea of appreciating Southern brilliance, no matter like where it comes from. Like and even if they can’t appreciate it, it’s appreciated in a way. Like you can appreciate the simplicity of the blues, for example. That’s like, but that’s where they go. But the idea that somebody like Big Boi could have this expansive creative vision I think is just hard for most people in this country to wrap their minds around.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:29:57] Okay. So my father gave me his vinyl collection from college, and I feel like I learned so much about my dad from his vinyl collection. And, you know, I’ve added, obviously more modern stuff. Anyone who listens to this podcast knows that Biggie is my day one, number one, like he’s my everything rapper. But I have, you know, I keep my little Mount Rushmore charts. How did you make this transition? Because I know you started off as a music and pop culture critic and you were writing for AOL dot com and then ESPN. So how did you make this transition from music journalism to sports journalism? And do you have a preference?
Bomani Jones [00:30:34] When I write about music, I do it for free at this point. Like I prefer to do that over anything else. The problem is most people who want to write about music also want you to do it for free. So how did the transition come about? The transition came about because I met Ralph Wiley. I made the equations around Wiley in 2003 and he walked me up to the ESPN folks. After Ralph passed in 2004, I kind of maintained a relationship and then in 2005, ESPN had a page called Page Three. that already had Page Two, which had been an expansion on kind of sports writing and bringing in what is now like the modern Internet model of sports writing. Page Two was at the front of that, but they had a sponsorship deal with Mazda for the the Mazda 3, and so they started Page Three and Page Three is supposed to be a pop sports pop culture overlap. And so I got in there because I had the music thing and the interest in sports. So that I could put those together and then use that to move over into the sports stuff from there. So that was my way to sneak in.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:31:34] Okay, So also, who is your number one rapper?
Bomani Jones [00:31:43] I believe I don’t know if I’m putting it as my number one per se, but the greatest rapper to ever walk the face of the earth is KRS-One. Like that to me, if you put in the total package of what a rapper is and a big part of that package is being able to stand in front of you and rap, not just do this on tape, KRS-One is the guy. The The The guy. if I start talking about my favorite rapper, like individually, it gets tricky because Outkast is absolutely, without question, my favorite group.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:12] I’m tied with Outkast and Tribe Called Quest, though.
Bomani Jones [00:32:14] Yeah, yeah, I see the tribe argument, right? But I am like, I’m strong into Kast camp and a lot of that is very, very personal. But when you talk about like the one individual who is your favorite rapper over all the rappers, that is the hardest question in the world for me to answer.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:31] Hmm. Okay. So what’s your favorite Outkast album?
Bomani Jones [00:32:35] Oh, my favorite, look, the best one is Aquemini. My favorite is Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. The one that is probably most personal is ATLiens. It’s like I can go up and down the line with all the reasons why I have these distinctions on where I go with it. But if you were to tell me you thought Aquemini the best rap album ever made, I’m not gonna argue with.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:56] I think that there’s a conversation to be had about that, and I don’t know if I’d really push back on it. I definitely think Aquemini is their best album. ATLiens is my favorite album of theirs. I just there’s something about it. Maybe it’s the time period. Maybe it’s where I was in life when I first kind of like put it into my DNA. But Aquemini there’s something really special about that album from start to finish. It’s to me, it’s up there with like a Purple Rain where I can listen to it from literally the opening note to the closing note and not have a single complaint.
Bomani Jones [00:33:33] Yeah. The thing above me with their catalog is with every passing album, the distance between the two of them is greater and greater. And I don’t mean the stylistic distance. I mean in terms of like proximity, like the relationships and knowing what, you know, like they are, I don’t want to say less and less close because that’s too presumptuous. But you can tell like the directions that they are they’re going in are every album you can tell, till you get to the point where they’re not even recording together anymore and not because they have beef.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:34:02] When you have Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, like two totally different CDs.
Bomani Jones [00:34:05] Yeah, yeah. But even the stuff before that, like they weren’t in the studio necessarily doing their verses together, but somehow it all stayed together. Like that’s the most amazing part of their whole catalog when you think about it, it really is like walking through a relationship, but it never comes with an unhappy ending. It was just a, “Yeah, we want to make different kind of music right now.”
Dr. Christina Greer [00:34:24] Right.
Bomani Jones [00:34:24] And that’s what they do.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:34:25] Well, I mean, some relationships just grow apart, and that’s just human nature.
Bomani Jones [00:34:29] Yeah.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:34:30] Okay. All right, So before we get to Black Lightning, tell us a teeny bit more about season two of your HBO show Game Theory with Bomani Jones. Where can we find it? When should we tune in? What can we expect?
Bomani Jones [00:34:41] All right. Well, season two, we got out there on January 20th and we’re coming on 11:00 after Bill Maher after Real Time with Bill Maher. And like, what you can expect is me. Like, I mean, that’s it. I don’t I have no idea how you answer that question. Like I said, you know, like, I can’t really give you too much about the content because the content is still at work. It me. I give ideas and then we figure out how to bring them to the screen, right? Like, that’s what it’s going to be. But it’s we are every part of the show that we’ve touched so far as we’ve prepared for the season is better than it was last night. Last season you figured out what you do, and now we got an idea of what we’re doing, and now we’re trying to figure out how to make it better.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:35:24] I’m really excited for you. I can’t wait to check this out. I mean, you’re super brilliant and funny and witty, and I think folks are going to love season two. So be sure to tune in on HBO. Are you ready for Black Lightning?
Bomani Jones [00:35:35] I am.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:35:36] Okay. So Black Lightning is us. There’s no right or wrong answers. You just tell me the first thing that pops in your mind. How about that?
Bomani Jones [00:35:43] All right.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:35:43] Okay. What would you rather watch the NFL or the NBA? And why.
Bomani Jones [00:35:48] NBA. Your conscience doesn’t have to creep up nearly as much for when you do that.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:35:53] You don’t have to do any penance afterwards. Okay. You’ve got 24 hours to do whatever you want. Which U.S. city are you visiting and what are you doing?
Bomani Jones [00:36:01] New Orleans. I’m eating and kicking it. I ain’t got to give you nothing in particular, but I ain’t nobody really giving you more fun than New Orleans.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:36:08] Okay, You can have dinner with anyone alive or dead. Who are you sitting down with?
Bomani Jones [00:36:14] Anyone alive or dead. I mean, there’s no need to make this too deep. You can pull one of the four En Vogue members out of a hat, I’m there. I ain’t gotta talk. They ain’t gotta talk. We ain’t gotta talk. We can just eat and look at each other.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:36:32] Oh, gosh. That’s a whole nother podcast episode. Which would you rather play, spades, dominoes or uno?
Bomani Jones [00:36:37] Dominoes. I’m from Texas.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:36:39] Okay. What bucket list item do you want to tackle next?
Bomani Jones [00:36:43] I say go to the continent. Let’s put that. You know I’ve done it before, but I do that, you know, I don’t know if that’s what’s going to happen next. But lets throw it out there.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:36:51] All right. Field trip to the continent with Bomani. I feel like that’s a whole nother TV show, too. Okay, last one. One TV show has to go. Martin, Living Single, Fresh Prince of Bel Air or A Different World.
Bomani Jones [00:37:02] Oh, Martin. That’s not even close. Martin got one, Martin got one and a half good seasons and then after that, I was just like aye this just a little unwieldy for my personal taste.
Dr. Christina Greer [00:37:13] Oh, my gosh. Okay, Bomani, I can’t thank you enough for joining the Blackest Questions. For all of our listeners out there be sure to check out Game Theory with Bomani Jones on HBO. Wherever you find it on your dial. And thank you for listening to the Blackest Questions. The show is produced by Sasha Armstrong, Geoffrey Trudeau, and Regina Griffin is our director podcast. If you like what you heard, subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode. And please download theGrio app to listen and watch many more great shows.