My first introduction to author/illustrator/teacher/coach/multi-platinum tweeter Shea Serrano was his now defunct music series Diamonds & Wood on Four Pins dot com (RIP).
Every week on D&W, Serrano told stories about his family, his students, his players, and whatever else was on his mind, as well as five hip-hop records we needed to know about. That was three years ago. Now, a ton of fire tweets, a ton of great articles on publications like Grantland (RIP, too), LA Weekly and Village Voice, a coloring book and a New York Times best-seller in The Rap Yearbook later, Shea Serrano is the fucking man. So we talked to him about the Spurs, Twitter, and of course, rap.
Everyone knows you’re a big fan of the San Antonio Spurs, what are your predictions for them this season?
They’re winning the championship. They’ll beat the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, the Thunder in the second round, the Warriors in the conference finals, and then the Cavs in the Finals.
What was the first rap album you ever bought?
I think it was To The Extreme by Vanilla Ice. I’m probably wrong about that, but I think that’s right. Besides your own, do you have a favorite hip-hop book?
Hip-Hop America by Nelson George. He’s fantastic in it.
You’re notorious on twitter for being really nice and honest; I think that played a huge roll in the amount of people that bought the book. Eventually the movement led to your followers turning into a rabid army and shutting down websites. What was it like for you to see that reaction?
It was real dope. You’re of course always happy and excited to see people supporting something you’ve worked hard on.
Was it hard to be diplomatic and choose the best song of the year and not your favorite song or did they usually turn out to be the same?
No, it wasn’t that hard. They’re easy to separate into Best and Most Important if that’s what you’re trying to do. You’ve got three kids, infamously named Boys A, B, & C, how do you make time to write while taking care of them?
I mostly just ignore them a bunch. My wife is the one who makes sure that they receive love and attention. I don’t talk to them. I don’t really like them very much.
Your style has always been wildly imaginative and funny; you once said you could still teach science to kids if a grizzly bear landed on you. What helped you develop your writing style?
I’m fairly confident I never said that. I’m not even sure what that means. But to answer your question, what helped me develop my writing style was I had several editors who helped me gain confidence as a writer. Really, that’s all you need. Once you have that, the rest just sort of falls into place.
People talk so much shit about print but there’s also a weird hype around it right now. Why do you think people still feel like they need a physical copy and not just an e-book? Do you think people miss looking at stuff IRL?
In this particular case, there’s a bunch of art in the book, so that’s probably why people wanted a real copy and not an eBook or whatever. Print books are just way more dope in general.
You were part of the great team at Grantland, which has unfortunately shut down. Any stories or memories you want to share about the site?
Yes. Sean Fennessey has perfect hair. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s incredible.
The Rap Year Book is available at most book retailers. Here’s the Amazon link.
— Anteneh Gebre is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. He’s currently online window shopping. Follow him on Twitter.
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