Rappers want to be ball players and Ball Players want to be rappers. Rappers have been comparing themselves to hoopers for decades and a few of your favorite NBA Players have dropped albums. What I want to do is breakdown how real the parallels of Rap and the NBA are.
Rap much like basketball is extremely popular in the hood and with just young people in general. Why? It’s inexpensive to start doing, you can watch someone do it, emulate easily and soon come into your own style of play/emceeing. Just like there is always one kid with a basketball in the neighborhood, it’s at least one kid that can beatbox in the neighborhood. No basketball? No problem! I’ve hooped with a volleyball, soccer ball even B.S’ed around with a tennis ball before….No beatbox…Kick that A’Capella. Bottom line, it’s always an opportunity to have fun and get good at your own pace and will.
The “Hobby Rapper” and The YMCA/Bragging Rights Tournament Hooper
I like the Hobby Rapper. Shoot, I’m a hobby rapper now. What’s cool about the Hobby rapper is, some of them are extremely NICE! They are creative and they use rap as a true method of art and therapy. It’s not about being number 1 on Billboard or getting that Future collab cause he’s hot now. It’s solely off the love of the culture. I’ve gotten to a point where I would rather listen to a “Hobby Rapper” than a dude that’s “Trying to get on”. I feel that way because I know one is going to give me some real heartfelt music and the other is more than likely going to give me something they feel should be played on every radio station.
If you ever been to Hoop It Up, Rucker Park or hit up the Y on a Saturday morning, you KNOW it’s some hoopers out there. Some may have played High School and a little college ball but they had other aspirations outside of the NBA. There’s a lot of guys trying to “get in shape” and its some cats out there that just love to compete for sport. They are more than content with playing recreationally and they go HARD. You can find more YMCA lane basketball hoopers in the Guinness Book than actual NBA players. They love the game. Their passion is not based on contracts and sneaker endorsements. They playing all season just like their favorite player would.
D-Leauge and The Underground
College ball is the last stop for THOUSANDS of aspiring hoopers…IF your goal was NBA or Bust. Some still love the game itself and they refuse to let go of it easy. So the D-League or playing overseas is home. Still next level competition, still able to make money doing what you love and hey…may STILL get an NBA look if you got it together. Some NBA greats have went on to win Basketball titles past their primes in the international leagues and some D-League players have become NBA starters. Never say never. Some of those guys at the Y may end up here. You just never know when opportunity presents itself.
Rap can get very serious. Some cats take those rhyming on the corner and in the park days and they want to get next level. Some prefer to battle and make a living ripping other emcee’s to shreds. Others think “I need to feed the streets with some music” so they start pressing up CD’s and doing shows. Sure the money doesn’t start off good at all but, you don’t go to school to become a rapper…You just make moves. Besides, it’s the passion for the art that’s driving you, not the payment. Some underground rappers get distribution, some get record deals. Independent hip-hop can definitely thrive nationally and internationally. It’s all in how you hustle to your goal.
The NBA and The Major Label Record Deal
They say MAYBE 2% of the kids in college get drafted in the NBA and LESS THAN HALF of those players pan out to be stars in the league. Some get hurt, some never start and some never live up to the hype. Add that to international players getting drafted and some player just being stupid, its no secret to why LeBron has been most talked about for a decade now. We all recognize the NBA as the best of the best and rightfully so. They’ve dedicated most of their lives to get there. They make millions, they play and practice more than the average man or woman and they help cultivate a billion dollar organization. However even in the league there are only a HANDFUL of SUPERSTARS! The guys that get the 100 million dollar contracts. The guys that can go to any park, YMCA, Tournament or College and dominate under any circumstance. The players that we will remember forever because they hold some of the greatest moments we have ever seen. That level of excellence deserves high praise.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of successful rappers on major labels ended up being the exact same numbers of athletes that pan out in the NBA. The self investment and work it takes to get noticed by major labels is indeed a price that many can’t or won’t pay. Some rappers are handed a lot of money and great opportunity. Some make good, some overachieve and some totally mess it up. No matter who comes through every year, we still only talking about 10 rappers all year and comparing them to the rappers who came before them. Everybody doesn’t sell a million records but, we can’t deny that a bar has been set that separates the Professional Rappers from the Rap Superstars.
Sure some get lucky. Some get uncanny opportunities and become famous by circumstance. Some die too soon or hurt themselves or their character. Some make grave mistakes that land them in prison. Some just behave stupidly and ruin their lives as well as others around them. Some fall victim to the night life and everything in it. That’s life. Nothing we can do about that. That’s why the game has no guarantees. Anything is possible with hard work, dedication and wise self investments. It’s all about what are you willing to do to get to the level that you desire. Then, how will you stay there.