Hip Hop 50: Five Decades of Hip Hop Beating in the NBA

From his spot on the corner of the court, Miami Heat DJ, M Dot, front row can watch a harmonious fusion of ballonchest and music.

M Dot, whose real name is Michael Hankerson, has seen LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler shake their heads to the summer with songs from artists like Drake and Jeezy. I have seen fanatics muttering lyrics to applause and rappers cheering the crowd.

It’s a relationship that began in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when hip hop was on the rise, and also a new era of the NBA.

Today, basketball games are a playground for the sounds of hip hop, the unmistakable musical genre full of rhythm and fiery utterances.

Just as a movie’s soundtrack helps the audience follow the action through each plot twist, hip hop has done the same thing with basketball through the NBA. During the last five decades, the genre has incorporated song, rhythm and culture into the DNA of the game. Now, as hip hop approaches its 50th anniversary, the two are deeply intertwined like sheep.

M Dot says, “Hip hop has always been young, fresh, and recognizable.” “If you watch an NBA game, I’d say it’s probably a third of the music that’s played”.

There is no doubt that hip hop culture has influenced other sports over the past few decades. But the cancha and its kinship have always been separate, literally since the birth of the music genre, hip hop and balloncesto.

“I believe the relationship between rocking equipment and hip hop seems like a kind of symbiosis. Both allow individual expression within a team, says Mark Campbell, professor of music and culture at the University of Toronto. “Victoria’s cantidad has since been made memorable as a single, so Dr. J (Julius Irving) made the circle again, to contribute personally to a film. … how the body did interesting, dynamic and new things”.

Many hip hop artists and basketball players have gone through similar stories of rising from poverty to riches, creating a natural camaraderie on and off the court.

This connection has its roots in the early days of the genre. Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, the first rap song to appear on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, linked a swing set to a drum machine in 1979 when Big Bank Hank rapped: “I got a color TV so I can watch the Knicks play basketball (I have a color television to watch the Knicks play basketball).

Curtis Blow did it again in 1984 with “Basketball”, his lyrical ode al deporte and one of rap’s first commercial hits.

“Basketball struggled to become a profitable professional sport after the merger of the NBA and ABA in the mid-80s,” says Campbell. “There really was a need for someone like (Michael) Jordan, who has the arrogance of Barrios’ b-boys, whatever it is, the arrogance of a Rakim or take that type of ego and put it on. In a scenario where cable television allowed people to see what they could not see from neighborhoods of people who were not a part of it.

This was the beginning of a relationship that has lasted for decades.

Michigan’s “Fab Five” was the first university ballroom team with a hip hop touch and hit the scene in 1991, the same year Public Enemy became the first hip hop group to top the Billboard charts.

From their cropped pants to their black pants and shoes, five Michigan freshmen (Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King, Juwan Howard and Ray Jackson) brought a persona to the game that was in direct contrast to their usual style . Before the players who came.

King says that bringing elements of hip hop culture into Cancha was intentional.

“Most basketball players want to be artists and most artists want to be athletes. So we looked out for each other”, says King. “I believe we use the hip hop music genre in sports to enliven ourselves, maintain the spirit and motivation. And I believe artists get that feeling indirectly through the athlete… just the hand-to-hand movement”.

If the battle cry of most teams is “¡Vamos, Equipo!” “¡Familia!” However, King recalled that the Michigan team used a scream in Subtle Tan taken from the Geto Boys’ 1991 album “We Can’t Be Stopped”.

King says it was a testament to the cultural mix they proudly expressed.

“It was our brand. It was our style”, he says. “El Fanfaronio, Las Celebriones, Era Solo Una Extention”.

That’s the legacy Allen Iverson inherited when he joined the NBA in 1996 and has incorporated hip hop culture into everything he does, from his clothes to his braided hair.

Stars have embraced hip hop in unprecedented ways, and that means the NBA has slowed down and raised concerns in some circles about the league’s most conservative corporate sponsors. The league’s former commissioner, David Stern, also instituted a dress code for players who banked in street clothes.

But it was something that went well beyond the style of wear, the hip hop/NBA camaraderie became stronger.

Iverson’s time in the league helped solidify an era of NBA players who went from simply consuming hip hop and spending time with their stars to composing their own music.

Original hip hop albums by Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Marcus Smart, Damian Lillard and many more.

Lillard, who has been called to the All-Star game seven times, is known in the studio by his stage name Dame Dolla. With four albums to your credit, a menudo showcases your lyrical talents on social networks. Last season, when a blizzard left him and his Portland Trail Blazers teammates stranded on the field for more than seven hours, I used the free time to write a poem about that terrifying experience , which was completed with recording an impromptu music video.

The connection between the two worlds remains clear.

Drake and J Cole are a pair of famous hip hop artists who are deeply involved with NBA teams. Drake has been the world ambassador for his hometown team, the Toronto Raptors, since 2013 and, at least, he finds himself interacting with the coaches and players. Cole, who played on his high school’s basketball team, became a minority owner of the Charlotte Hornets when Michael Jordan sold his majority stake in June.

When Nipsey Hussle, a popular Los Angeles-based rap artist, was signed in 2019, the teams and players of NBA Le Rinderon paid tribute to him. Los Clippers displayed a shirt with his name on it. Stars such as Stephen Curry, who had developed a friendship with Hussle, read tributes on social networks and at press conferences.

This highlights how hip hop has used the NBA to leave its urban origins and reach all corners of the country.

The words and contributions of hip hop artists, once ridiculed by mass culture in the United States, are now influencing the public.

Not only did Jay-Z buy a minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets, he also designed their uniforms. When NBA players were troubled by racial injustice and the death of a black man from a police shooting in Wisconsin, they organized a march in 2020 within the league’s pandemic bubble, a physical manifestation of the pain that hip hop was experiencing at the time. The music was beating. Moment.

“There’s no way to underestimate the influence of hip hop culture,” says Campbell. “Let’s see if the NBA is going to be home to the kind of extreme style that is part of black or urban culture, someone else will take advantage of it. Fashion brands, dance, all of these elements equally factor into how Ball Baskets tries to make money. Como tries to be genius in a certain sense. It’s the genius factor”.


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