The intersection of hip hop and the NBA has been spoken about for many years. The connection is a pure one. It is seamless, and will likely be eternally extra. Going again so far as the 80’s with Kurtis Blow’s Basketball, as much as Kawhi Leonard showing in Drake’s Approach Too Horny video, hip hop and the NBA are synonomyous. Rappers wish to be hoopers; hoopers wish to be rappers. Why is that, and likewise, why is it so cool? The 2 are the identical, and undoubtedly extensions of one another, so let’s take it again.
Hip Hop and the NBA
The 12 months is 1984 and I am a sophomore in highschool. Roxane, Roxane, by UTFO took the nation by storm. Lots of my classmates wrote the lyrics down to recollect and recite them. Hip hop was exploding and gave the NBA a lift. Later that 12 months, rap superhero Kurtis Blow of The Breaks fame dropped a basic known as Basketball. “Similar to I am the king on the microphone, so is Dr. J and Moses Malone.” The Philadelphia 76ers have been coming off an NBA championship that everybody thought they’d win. It was their 12 months. Kurtis Blow documenting that crew and plenty of different NBA legends, together with Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, made me search the older names and join the dots. Hip hop did that for us.
Chuck D and Charles Barkley
A couple of years later, one of the crucial influential hip hop acts of all time, Public Enemy, dropped their basic album, It Takes a Nation of Hundreds of thousands to Maintain Us Again. The aware undertaking that challenged race in each course with bombastic manufacturing from the Bomb Squad was Public Enemy’s second. It contained the basic violin laden monitor, Insurgent With out a Pause. Followers of Public Enemy could not wait till Chuck rapped the next bars: “Easy and plain, give me the lane, I am going to throw it down your throat like Barkley!” Once more, a Philadelphia 76ers reference to the early NBA days of Corridor of Fame energy ahead Charles Barkley. Chuck D has a deeper NBA connection and emulated the voice of Marv Albert, the not too long ago retired Corridor of Fame broadcaster who was the voice of New York professional sports activities. Chuck D, rising up in Lengthy Island, and attending the identical faculty because the aforementioned Dr. J, Julius Erving. Doc would return to his highschool, Roosevelt Excessive, in Roosevelt, Lengthy Island, as a younger Chuck D soaked up something and all the pieces from the basketball legend – then starring for the New Jersey Nets of the ABA.
With out Julius Erving and Marviconic, there can be no iconic rapper. There can be no iconic Public Enemy. After I informed Marv Albert about how Chuck developed what’s principally “the voice of God” as rapper Mack Warbucks informed me in a radio interview, Albert was naive to the second. It was Reggie Miller, additionally on the decision, that made Albert perceive what had simply been informed him. Chuck is an avid follower of sports activities, and each time we speak, the NBA is talked about. In an interview from 2007, Chuck in contrast legends of hip hop to previous superstars of the NBA:
“Essentially the most feared rapper of all time was KRS-1. Nobody needed to rap across the dude. Jay-Z is Jordan. KRS-1 is Invoice Russell – swatting all the pieces in his path. LL Cool J is Abdul-Jabbar for longevity. Kool Moe Dee and I play this recreation of evaluating athletes to rappers. His listing would undoubtedly be totally different than mine.”
I then requested Chuck concerning the lyrical abilities of NBA Corridor of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq dropped 4 studio albums within the 90’s and in 2001. He commented on Shaq and likewise the rap forays of fellow NBA legends Allen Iverson and the late Kobe Bryant:
“The very best that’s ever come from sport. The truth that a seven-footer can B-Boy is unprecedented. Allen Iverson lived the life, however you possibly can’t say the issues he was attempting to say and be within the NBA. It’s when athletics and hip hop arrive on the flawed avenue. Kobe Bryant has a deft voice. One other factor, out of all of the athletes I’ve met, Kobe unquestionably has probably the most manners. You may inform that he was raised proper and coached proper.”
I requested him who can be the aforementioned Julius Erving and Chuck got here with the warmth:
“Kool Moe Dee. Like Doc, Mo Dee got here out the field already on a excessive degree. He instituted the spotlight reel dunk into the rap recreation.”
The subject of Chris Webber and the Fab 5 of Michigan was talked about, and Chuck noticed the hip hop parallel within the fabulous freshman:
“They have been all nice particular person entities and Steve Fisher knew that, so he needed to incorporate them into the crew side. I used to be nodding my head saying these dudes are hip hop for actual! They modified the sport.”
Chris Webber and Nas
Talking of Chris Webber, the newly minted member of the Naismith Basketball Corridor of Fame, he produced two tracks for Queensbridge lyricist Nas. He commented by telephone about one of many tracks, Blunt Ashes:
“My father and Nas have been speaking concerning the previous days. The Chitlin Circuit. How laborious it was for artists to return up and that kind of factor. I used to be blessed to be within the examine with Sean C and allow them to take heed to a few my beats on the time and he put one in and Blunt Ashes got here out of that. It was simply loopy after I heard him say “I noticed on TV at the moment, this man misplaced his son, his son died, so he had him cremated, took his ashes, after which made it to a diamond ring now he watches his son shine on a regular basis”. I received up and ran out the room. That was one of many biggest moments in hip hop in my life.”
He additionally talked about that after calling the a lot debated timeout his sophomore 12 months at Michigan, that hanging out with Kay Gee – of Naughty by Nature – and studying to provide music gave him peace after such a tough time to get by way of. He mentioned he would simply go to Kay Gee’s home and disappear from making music.
Chris and I later spoke about him being on stage on the 1996 Supply Awards. He was a presenter that night time, and being a rising NBA star, it was a pure transfer for Webber to be in attendance because the web period hit and the emergence of Michael Jordan gave the NBA new prominence. Chris calls that notorious night time the best assortment of hip hop expertise ever.
Masking the NBA, I prefer to exit to my seat in press row and take all of it in. I wish to see the Christmas eyes of followers clamoring to see their favourite NBA star. Within the lay-up line, the most well-liked hip hop tracks of the day are performed in arenas throughout the land. Followers in attendance benefit from the backdrop, but it’s the gamers who’re most affected by what they hear overhead. Hip hop appears to get them of their house to exit and carry out. That is a part of the NBA’s leisure. If the gamers are in the best thoughts, they will carry out at a better degree.
Drake and Kawhi Leonard
In Toronto, rapper Drake is a Raptors superfan. Kawhi Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to the NBA championship in 2019, and Drake was proper there in assist of a magical 12 months for Canada. He was so moved by Kawhi Leonard’s Finals MVP play, Kawhi appeared in Drake’s Approach Too Horny hip hop video in a self-deprecating ode to Kawhi’s dry character.
Jemele Hill chimes in
Commentator Jemele Hill an Emmy award successful journalist – who has a really profitable podcast on Spotify, Jemele Hill Is Unbothered – spoke of the connection between hip hop and the NBA:
“It’s simply fascinating too as a result of a few of our favourite basketball gamers remind us of hip hop artists and a few of our favourite hip hop artists remind us of our favourite basketball gamers. I usually examine Drake to LeBron. I believe that Drake is the very best hit maker in historical past, so I consider his means to provide hits, and LeBron’s distinctive means to provide championships and go to the Finals. LeBron turned going to the Finals into an artwork kind. I believe there’s a symbiotic relationship there between the 2 on prime of them clearly being mates however they remind me of each other in a number of methods by way of how they strategy what they do. In addition they get a number of hate due to they means they’ve chosen to information their careers. I believe there’s at all times comparisons there between a number of the finest basketball gamers on this planet and a number of the finest hip hop artists on this planet.”
“You take a look at somebody like Damian Lillard who could be very revered in hip hop circles as a result of he’s any person who has taken the craft of rapping severely. On prime of being proficient, I believe as a result of he has had such respect for it, that’s why you see him embraced within the hip hop world. Though he’s clearly a dynamite basketball participant, and that’s kind of his primary skillset. The truth that he’s so embraced sort of speaks to that relationship.”
The third monitor on Mr. October is Magic Man. Magic Man pays respect to Magic Johnson, NBA Corridor of Famer and extensively generally known as the best level guard to ever play.
“Triple-double Don, twenty years earlier than LeBron…”
It is an infectious underground hip hop monitor that once more speaks to the concord of hip hop and the NBA.
There have been many cases of hip hop and the NBA working as a crew. From Allen Iverson and Jada Kiss’ basic business promoting, the latest Iverson kicks, to Skee-lo’s I Wish, Skyzoo and Illmind’s Winner’s Circle or Wayne’s Kobe Bryant the symmetry between hip hop and the NBA is right here to remain.
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Q. When was your first connection of hip hop and the NBA?