You may know that Shaquille O'Neal is a 4 time NBA champion, a 3 time Finals MVP, and one of the 50 greatest players ever, but did you know he also had a platinum CD? Shaq Diesel, a collaboration with the defunct rap group Fu-Schnickens, sold over a million copies somehow. It opened the door for other athletes to display their skills on the mic as well. I use the word skills lightly because as a self proclaimed hip-hop snob I found the quality and content lacking. Here's a list of some of the athletes that have delved into the world of rap music:
Deon Sanders - Must be the money (Not good)
Gary Payton - Livin large and legal ( 1 listen will suffice)
Kobe Bryant - K.O.B.E. featuring Tyra Banks (.........)
Allen Iverson Reebok commercial - (Impressive, but only because of Jadakiss and Swizz Beats)
Dana Barros - Check it ( I almost had to kill this guy one night at a club so I'm a little biased)
NBA's best kept secret compilation (There's a reason you never heard of this)
I bring up these athletes not to discredit their efforts, but to point out the connection between sports and hip-hop. Athletes and MC's alike typically come from a disadvantaged backgrounds and have ties to the inner cities of America. Both have a profound impact on pop culture and share the same core audience of fans and followers. Whether its the Fab 5 with long shorts and black socks or Biggie Smalls rocking Coogi and Versace the influence is deep rooted. In addition, there is a mutual respect between athletes and MC's. Most rappers would love to have a killer crossover like Allen Iverson and most athletes would love to sell out the Garden like Jay-Z.
Right or wrong the youth of America follows the trends of athletes and entertainers and athletes and entertainers follow the trends of each other. MC's wear the hottest jerseys in their videos and players listen to the hottest songs on their i pods before games. The two worlds are forever intertwined and I'm sure we'll hear more "interesting" tracks in the future. I'd actually prefer that over rappers (Master P style) trying out for professional sports teams. That could get ugly.