Growing up in the 90s was really the beginning of this relationship between basketball and rap. Rap really came to the mainstream in the 1980s, right as the NBA went through its big ascent in to worldwide popularity with players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and of course Michael Jordan. The players of the 80’s were the first to really get people to go out and buy their sneakers, but luckily spared us from having to pretend to like their music. Unfortunately success on the court does not equal automatic success in the recording studio. Now with the ease of purchasing and using recording equipment a lot more players continue to release music, but I really wanted to focus on the pioneers in the 1990’s.Embed from Getty Images
The Team Rapping
The 1985 Chicago Bears really started his off with the “Super Bowl Shuffle”. After this the floodgates opened to take this marketing opportunities. Luckily for these songs, they tend to not take themselves too seriously. My beloved Portland Trail Blazers made two songs that make for a nostalgic listen to this day.
Bust a Bucket
Rip City Rhapsody
Shaq was the first player to make the move in to the music biz. As a larger then life figure Shaq Diesel was everywhere possible, he was becoming the most dominant player in the game, was starring in Movies (Blue Chips, Kazaam), having his own video game (Shaq Fu) appearing in tons of commercials so having a music career seemed like the last step. He was lucky to have some great collaborations with Method Man, RZA, Redman and Warren G. Though it’s on his third album where he gets some heavy hitters in Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z. Once he made the move to the Los Angeles Lakers he put out his final album “Respect” the big single was “The Way it’s Going Down” the video features Shaq hobnobbing with all his celebrity friends like Oscar De La Hoya, Cuba Gooding Jr and most importantly Steven Segal…
Kobe and Shaq are forever linked in a lot of ways, this is one I’m pretty sure they don’t want tons of people to remember. He never put out an album, but his one single K.O.B.E featuring Tyra Banks (yes Tyra Banks) was set loose on the public. Luckily the greatness on the court allows us to look past the attempt at a music career.
C. Webb was able to have one of the better songs of an NBA player, but was not a long term fixture on the scene. Luckily he was able to take a time out and make the change to being an analyst…
One of the most iconic players of this era, Allen Iverson went by the rap name Jewelz. AI had the most cred of any of the player as he was a real taste maker in style as he started a lot of trends in basketball fashion and eventually made the NBA institute a dress code to try and stop him. His album never saw the light of day (he received a lot of pushback from the NBA), but it was an insanely popular search on Napster as fans clamored to hear his songs. It was early enough in the internet that it was hard to verify things, so in fact the song we listened to the most turned out to not actually be from Allen Iverson but was made by a band from Norway called Jewelz. So his rapping ability really left us with more questions than Answers.
Not many people know about the rapping of Rasheed Wallace, so consider this a special bonus. Sheed got to add his vocals to a special Trail Blazers themed remix of The Beatnuts “No Escapin’ this”. Portland radio station Jammin’ 95.5 put the track together and it features a prelude from my favorite player (and Portland native) Damon Stoudamire. The song talks about how the Lakers should be afraid of facing the Blazers. The lyric “Fourth quarter big shot who’s up for the challenge” plays right in to the wheelhouse of the ball don’t lie master himself!