Three Basketballs lined up on a rack with records between them.

Basketball: Hip Hops Inspiration and Friend

By Jason Arline
Music Journalist

    Hip-Hop and Rap undoubtedly owes its roots to the streets of New York where all the kids that were too young to get into the discos would throw their own parties instead. Most of the people listening to rap were minorities at the time.

Without the acknowledgment of Rap by mainstream media it was allowed to be a transparent form of expression for the youth. The lyrics often reflected the need to party, freedom of expression and the pursuit of one’s dreams despite being from a low-income part of the U.S. population.

One of the dreams that are still reflected in our music today is to play basketball in the NBA.

Rappers love basketball; its rise in popularity over the years is almost parallel to that of Hip-Hop. Since 1984 with the release of Kurtis Blow’s iconic “Basketball”, rappers and professional basketball players have intertwined both their cultures together over and over again.

Ironically 1984 was also the same year Michael Jordan was drafted, marking the dawn of a new era for both the NBA and Music. 

Fast Forward to 2005 when David Stern enacted a “Dress Code” for NBA players. The rule change was designed to prevent players like Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony from wearing baggy clothes on game days.

The players were expected to dress business casual when they arrived to the games. However many players objected to the rule changes, saying that the rules were “racist” and that the NBA was afraid of becoming “too Hip-Hop”.

Fortunately, this rule hasn’t been heavily enforced as of late, especially with players like Russell Westbrook who have an interesting fashion sense. 

NBA players want to be rappers and rappers want to be NBA players. Both careers intertwine so much these days that some NBA players actually rap and some rappers can ball. In one of the most notable cases, Shaquille O’Neal released several albums in the ‘90s.

Two of which went certified Gold and Platinum. More recently we have players like Damian Lillard and Lonzo Ball who have been releasing music over the past few years as Dame Dolla and Zo. 

On the other side of the entertainment industry, you have rappers like 2 Chainz who played for the NCAA in college but eventually went on to become a successful musician.

2 Chainz recently released the album “Rap or Go to the League” encapsulates a youth’s dreams of either becoming a famous performer or athlete perfectly and is full of basketball references just like many other Hip-Hop songs and albums before it.

In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Migos rapper Quavo pointed out the relationship saying “Basketball is hip-hop. Hip-hop is basketball.”

In the interview, he describes how Hip-Hop is basketballs culture and basketball is Hip-Hops inspiration. With songs like Jim Jones’ “Ballin” and Post Malone’s “White Iverson” the intermingling of rap and the NBA will continue for the foreseeable future and as they both dominate the world’s entertainment industry.

Featured image by Jason Arline.

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