There’s many instances in life when 2 things you love come together to form something amazing. Peanut butter and chocolate… bananas and Frosted Flakes… Women and sundresses. One would think combining your favorite things would always turn out great… not true. There’s many examples of this but today we’ll speak on combining sports and hip-hop.
Hip-Hop’s influence on sports (mainly basketball) has been prevalent since the 90s. Once the genre switched from its friendly pop style to it’s more gritty inner city life ways, you saw the change make its way into sports. From Michigan’s Fab Five wearing long shorts and black socks to ESPN now frequently booking rappers to argue on First Take. Hip-Hop’s presence in sports will always be felt. Especially since athletes have taken to the booth.
This is nothing new. Athletes sometimes use sport as a springboard to musical ventures. Even if they’re not actually doing the music making. But let’s focus on the ones making the music.
My first and probably favorite memory of an athlete making a music video is Deion Sanders’ “Must Be The Money”. This is an example of the fun side of it. We all know PrimeTime wasn’t serious about a music career but since he had the money why not make a music video? To this day that video is hilarious.
Another example is Shaquille O’Neal’s rap career. Out of all the athletes turned rappers, Shaq was probably the most notable and successful. I’m not saying Shaq was a good rapper, lord knows he wasn’t, but his personality made it work. I mean the guy wasn’t awful… Sorry for that lie. His album “Shaq Diesel” was released in 1993 and actually went gold. GOLD… 500 THOUSAND people paid for Shaq’s debut album. He appeared to be very serious about his rap career recording 4 more albums over a 10 year span. In 1996 dropped what might have been his Magnum Opus. “Can’t Stop The Reign” ft The Notorious BIG was actually listenable. I won’t even lie its all flames.
I don’t know if yall caught Shaq morph from a scuba suit into an all white Italian suit and hat in that video. That happened.
The most embarrassing moment of the sports and hip-hop marriage belongs to your beloved Kobe Bean Bryant. Kobe was actually signed to Sony out of high school when he was a part of a group called “Cheizaw”. They never dropped a record or album. In 1998, Kobe was tapped to be on the remix of Brian McKnight’s song Hold Me. What happened when those 2 collided in 1 booth is a thing of absolute calamity. Skip to the 2:38 mark
Even after that Sony felt they had potential star. In 2000, Kobe dropped his first single “K.O.B.E.” ft Tyra Banks…. Yep. After gaining no traction, Sony pulled the plug on Kobe and his album never saw the light of day.
Now for the one who actually had talent. Allen “Jewelz” Iverson, well Ezell is his real middle name but whatever, the poster child for the hip-hopification of sports came thru like a storm in 1996. He was the sports first “thug” AND he crossed up MJ. If you had to pick anybody in sports to pick up the microphone it would be A.I. In 2000 he did just that. 40 Bars was set to release in 2000 but after releasing the title track “40 Bars”, he was met with criticism from David “Gustapo” Stern who thought Iverson wasn’t representing the NBA properly. 40 Bars was never released.
A.I. is solely responsible for David Stern trying to take hip-hop out of basketball. There is a dress code because of him. All hail Allen Iverson!
Those are just a few examples of how hip-hop has influenced sports. Athletes turned rappers are still going strong today although they are not as apparent with it. I don’t mind athletes venturing off into music careers but my only request is that if they are gonna do either put in the same time and effort in the studio as they do on the court/field or keep it fun and loose like Primetime.
Desean Jackson… No
And just as a bonus for reading… More PrimeTime