From the moment Kurtis Blow declared basketball as his favorite sport in the opening of his 1984 ode “Basketball,” hip hop and b-ball have been connected at the hip. They influence each other in a myriad of ways, from fashion to slang, and both depend on a competition of one-upmanship, whether on the court or on the mic. And just as many a rapper likes to claim he’s nice on the hardwood, and does whatever they can to prove it (yo Drake, I’m looking at you kid), a bench full of ballers have tried their hands as MCs only to drop the ball (**cough**cough**Lebron **cough**cough**).
Right now, as All-Star weekend commences, the connection couldn’t be anymore obvious. The two cultures collide to create an environment unlike any other sporting event in the world. To celebrate this glorious basketball weekend, we’ve compiled a list of NBA players rapping on songs that weren’t complete trash. And yes, it is a very short list. But let’s be honest, most players rap skills aren’t even worth the piece of paper they write those struggle bars on. So no need for the mute button on this one, because these songs have already been prescreened for your enjoyment.
Shaquille O’Neal featuring Lord Tariq & Jay-Z – No Love Lost
With platinum and gold plaques in his possession, Shaquille O’Neal is easily the most successful baller/rapper the world has ever known. Maybe that’s because as one of the biggest athletes in the world at the time he had every well-known artist and producer on speed dial. Never the less, Shaq Diesel on the low has some quality in his catalog, with this song being one of them. Originally released in 1996 on his third album, You Can’t Stop The Reign,”No Love Lost” features Jay Z circa the Reasonable Doubt era and Lord Tariq, who two years later would release the classic “Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)” with future ’Love & Hip-Hop’ star Peter Gunz.
Lance Stephenson – Hot N**** (Freestyle)
This one technically falls under the category of a freestyle but my man shot a video like it was an actual single, so we’ll going along with it. Last summer, Lance Stephenson signed a brand new contract with the Charlotte Hornets after four seasons with the Inidana Pacers. What did he do next? He personally remixed one of the hottest, if not, the hottest song of the summer. Guess when you’re from the same city as The Notorious B.I.G, Jay Z and Fabolous the ability to kick a hot 16 is second nature.
Brian McKnight featuring Kobe Bryant – Hold Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiMLtKIq0yA Back in the day, Columbia Records decided to give Kobe Bryant a record deal, which made sense at the time because — Shaq. For one reason or another the album never saw the light of day, maybe the lukewarm reception to his debut single featuring Tyra Banks was all the label needed to abandon ship. In any case, before the release of that monstrosity, Brian McKnight let young Bean go for his on the 1998 single, “Hold Me.”
Iman Shumpert featuring XVRHLDY – Anarchy
Before he was shipped off to Cleveland to play with King James, Iman Shumpert and his flat top called New York City home. The 24 year-old shooting guard let it be known from the jump that he had rap dreams to go right along with his hoop dreams. He’s released a plethora of music under the rap name “2wo 1ne,” his Soundcloud page is proof of this. This song in particular was featured on his mixtape released some time ago, entitled “Th3 #post90s.”
Shaquille O’Neal featuring Notorious B.I.G. – Can’t Stop The Reign (Remix)
Yes we know he’s already on this list, but what do you expect? We already told you he’s easily the most successful athlete/rapper ever. Not many people can say they worked with both Jay Z and Biggie, the man obviously knows how to call in a favor. This remix is pretty significant since it’s one of the last verses B.I.G recorded before his tragic death in 1997. Please don’t sleep on Shaq’s verse on this one, he held his own on a song with an all-time great and that should commended. By the way If you want a good laugh, check out the video for the original version and witness Shaq absolutely destroy a 90s video budget.