The past 2-3 weeks have been huge for rap music. Lil Wayne broke out of his indentured Cash Money servitude to drop one of the most sought after albums of recent history, Kanye lied about dropping a new project and lost his mind yet again, and Young Thug released a collab with Elton John. In honor of such a memorable month, I feel that it is my duty as a white rapper to help bridge the gap between hip-hop and professional athletics. I present to you my top rapper-athletes of all time:
A.I. aka Jewelz
Allen Iverson was one of the baddest dudes both on and off the court in the early 2000’s. Despite being barely over 6ft and 160 lbs he had a smoother crossover than Bruce Jenner, and ups like he was a small forward. The Answer also moonlighted as a rapper under the name “Jewelz” during his time on the Sixers. Prior to the 2000-2001 season A.I. dropped his debut single “40 Bars”, and was set to release a full length gangsta rap album until the white man (David Stern) forbade him to put out the heat. Sadly, Iverson’s skills on the mic were far less impressive than those he showcased on the hardwood, and his flow is off beat like 60% of the time. Jewelz can rap, but he’s not on the music industry level that some of his fellow rapper-athletes are on, so it probably was a good thing his album never saw the light of day.
As a young man who made it out of the treacherous suburbs of Mayonnaise America, I see a lot of myself in Cole Beasley. He hopped on the scene in January of 2018 with “80 Stings”, a single that amassed an impressive 400,000 + views on YouTube. Coles punchlines and flow are on point, but his music is not really my cup of tea. His whole “I’d rather spend my money on college funds for my kids then a Johnny Dang chain” mantra is not something I get tickled pink by. I like my rappers to flex the fact that they spent the entirety of their record deal advance on a diamond encrusted necklace, rather than talk about their 401Ks.
#5 Roy Jones Jr.
I can’t front and say I am familiar with Roy Jones Jr’s entire discography, I’m placing him at #5 purely off of the strength of “Can’t Be Touched”. Track is an absolute, red blooded banger. In junior high my wrestling coach used to play it before our matches, and I vividly remember head bobbing to it as I walked out on the mat for the highly anticipated 86lb bout. I got pinned in like 15 seconds, but boy let me tell you I was jacked up during my pre-match stretches.
#4 Iman Shumpert
Iman Shumpert’s music first started gaining steam on the internet around 2012-2013, when he was looking like he’d be the next young Knicks star. That obviously didn’t happen, as his glass shoulder and paper mache knees left Knick fans blue balled, and he was ultimately whisked off to Cleveland to ride Lebrons coattails towards a championship ring. This past year he released a full length EP, “Substance Abuse”, that was well received. The best joint off the project was “Critical”, a super smooth R&B-ish song where his vocals have him sounding like a Costco brand Andre 3000 (which honestly is a compliment). The problem with Shump is that he’s overshadowed by his caramel smokeshow wife Teyana Taylor. Can’t be the star of the show when your not even the star of your own family.
#3 Dame Dolla
Dame Lillard is a beast on the mic. He’s gotten cosigns from Weezy, ripped apart the 5 Fingers Of Death on Sway In The Morning, and released two full length studio albums (the first of which peaked at #119 on the Billboard charts). His rhymes are typically thought conscious, but I think he’s at his best when he’s on his get money shit. “Loyal To The Soil” ft. Lil Wayne is by far his best song. Although he completely gets overshadowed by Tunechi, he holds his own and delivers a very impressive verse. Dolla reminds me a lot of a young Lupe Fiasco, minus the whole appropriation of skateboard culture thing. You can’t kickflip Lupe, stop trying to act like Terry Kennedy.
This one is a no brainer. It seems like there is literally nothing Shaq can’t do. Big Daddy Diesel entered the NBA in 1992, and just a year after power dribbled into the rap game. O’Neil secured a deal with Jive Records and released the first of his 4 studio albums. He came on the music scene when actual lyricism was worth something, and pumped out hit after hit. “What’s Up Doc”, “I’m Out Standing”, and “I Know I Got Skillz”, all landed on the Billboard Charts in 1993. Can you imagine the tail a 24 year old Shaquille must have pulled back in the day? Hop off the court, hop on the stage, then hit the club with and endless horde of NBA/Rap groupies. There had to be a few dozen bow legged co-eds waddling home from the tour bus after the Shaq show.
#1 Master P (Percy Miller)
This one is from way out in left field. I didn’t even know that Master P played in the NBA until a few weeks ago when Large played a few of his tracks for me after the morning show. I did a little deep diving on his Wikipedia afterwards and read that he played for both the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors in the late 90’s.
He never made it past the preseason roster for either team, but he was technically a professional athlete, so I guess that top spot will come with somewhat of an asterisk. Regardless, Master P is a legend. He revolutionized hip hop in the South and was probably the first ever trap rapper. “Ice Cream Man” is one of the smoothest odes to cocaine trafficking of all time, and “Make Em Say Uh” still gets the pregame jumpin 20 years after its release. Miller started the No Limit record label, released 36 albums (19 solo, 17 collab), 15 mixtapes, had a TV show with his son, and accrued a net worth estimated at $350 million. Percy paved the way for the likes of Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane,Three 6 Mafia, Trick Daddy, and a slew of other southern rappers to create the sound that blew the Atlanta/Memphis/Florida rap scene up in the late 2000’s.
This list is more than likely wrong, and I’m willing to accept that. I am a white kid from Long Island who sounds like T-Pain’s illegitimate, and far less talented white son, so my opinion means very little. Regardless I think all guys on the list at the very least display solid rap skill, and they all are better than Kevin Durant on the mic.