The Intertextuality of Hip Hop and Sport

   It seems that every athlete wants to be a rapper and ever rapper wants to be an athlete, at least this is the case for African American males. Athletes such as Ron Artest, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and others have tried to rap, and many rappers have played sports and decided it wasn’t for them (Shaq was actually a decent rapper). On the other hand, rappers such as 2-Chains, Roscoe Dash and others have had a short stint on the hardwood. I always wondered why this is the case? Maybe the rappers were undersized – most rappers are short – and maybe athletes’ word plays weren’t strong enough. One thing that’s for sure is that you can always catch rappers at sporting events and athletes at a hip-hop concert. Even in the film “Brown Sugar,” Boris Kodjoe’s character is an NBA player who is an aspiring rapper. In his song “January 28th,” J. Cole says  “I turn the TV on, not one hero in sight, unless he dribble or he fiddle with mics.” I think the commonality between the African American males that rap and play basketball, or even football, is their economic statuses. Consider the aforementioned athletes and rappers’ cultures. Each of them have tough backgrounds and have had to overcome some struggles, and they either had to rap or play their way out of their situations.

Rappers talk about ball players in their songs and ball players are inspired by rappers by listening to their music before practices and games. It’s a strong connection because of the African American culture. It should not be the case – because there’s more to life than rapping and playing sports for males of color – but J. Cole has a point in saying that all of the rappers and athletes serve as heroes for young black males, mostly by default due to their statuses. Nevertheless, one basketball player who has been successful in articulating his lifestyle is Portland Trailblazer Point Guard Damian Lillard. He’s better than a lot of these rappers that are currently out. Check out his freestyle.

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