A Nickel and a Nail

A few weeks back, Shoals posted this item on the fanhouse, a 1994 remix of Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray” with cameos ranging from Tom Gugliotta to Larry Johnson.

It was then proposed that Billups and I should discuss—philosophically—whether the NBA is now more or less intertwined with hip-hop than it was in 1994.

In the interest of full disclosure, I first met Billups back in the summer of 2002. I mentioned to him I did not own Showbiz & A.G.’s Runaway Slave, and he made fun of me. I’m not sure if that means that either of us are qualified to discuss this topic, but we did our best.

[I still don't own Runaway Slave.]

Billups: rap!
Billups: hoops!
Dr. Lawyer IndianChief: explosion!
Dr. LIC: (cool) so the jumpoff for this conversation is really that naughty by nature video
Dr. LIC: and really, NBN is the perfect place to start
Dr. LIC: because they embodied that new jack swing aesthetic of the early 90s but still had respect
Billups: east orange thug and b
Dr. LIC: right
Dr. LIC: the nba needed dope choruses
Dr. LIC: naughty provided it

Dr. LIC: i have no idea what was played at nba games before bobby brown was around
Billups: i think it was generally that kinda funky, Go West, upbeat shit best exemplified by the White Men Can't Jump Soundtrack
Billups: Go West of "King of Wishful Thinking" fame
Billups: but like...more soulful
Dr. LIC: exactly. all-star game 1993, you had kid n play kicking it with urkel kicking it with xscape and mark curry
Dr. LIC: which sort of inherently answers the question of whether the nba is "more hip-hop" now
Billups: i say yes
Dr. LIC: with the odd exception being that ultramagnetic mcs "all stars" song
Dr. LIC: that could have NEVER happened now
Dr. LIC: keith shouts out randy pfund

Billups: (ps a little research on the INTERNET reveals that Jesse Johnson's "Jump For It" is the jam of the White Men Can't Jump ost that I was thinking of)
Billups: that shit stayed getting rewinded
Dr. LIC: holy shit
Dr. LIC: see
Dr. LIC: this is the thing
Dr. LIC: main source + jesse johnson on one album?
Dr. LIC: that shit is impossible nowadays
Billups: Go West WAS ON THIS SHIT TOO!
Dr. LIC: wait a second. i just checked amazon. main source isn't on this shit?
Billups: no
Dr. LIC: i thought "faking the funk" was on WMCJ
Billups: i don't remember that!
Dr. LIC: wait, i'm researching this shit really quickly
Billups: i think there might have been a "more music from the film" disc
Dr. LIC: yup
Dr. LIC: it's revealed there was some 12" "white men can't rap/fakin the funk"
Billups: btw,
Billups: rosie perez + "careless love"
Dr. LIC: !!!!
Billups: (golf clap)

Dr. LIC: crazy
Dr. LIC: so, check this thesis
Dr. LIC: pre-1994 there was a greater opportunity for good rappers (ultramag, main source, PE) to show up in the same spheres as popular celebrities (sinbad et al.) + the nba
Dr. LIC: but now the nba is somehow more hip-hop?
Dr. LIC: despite the fact you would never catch, say, mf doom (modern day keith) involved in anything nba related
Billups: well, i think the main thing there is that rap is more popular than basketball now, for one thing.

Dr. LIC: i feel like AI ruins everything in a lot of ways
Dr. LIC: the AI era is completely the "scowl era"
Billups: i don't think it's ruined, doggy!
Billups: i mean, i know you're not saying it's ruined the way a korean war vet says its ruined
Dr. LIC: that's the complete transition from humpty hump in the nike/barkley commercial to...styles p doing the lame kg commercial
Dr. LIC: mad scowls
Dr. LIC: i mean, i actually kind of like those AND1 commercials, but you know
Billups: what about jada's AI commercial? or the Just Blaze/Juelz AF1's?
Dr. LIC: thats my point though
Dr. LIC: juelz and jada are not this age's humpty hump
Dr. LIC: humpty was an underdog
Dr. LIC: juelz and jada are overlords
Billups: styles is an UNDERDOG
Dr. LIC: true
Dr. LIC: actually, sheek moreso
Billups: nah, styles is the tragic man of the people there.

Billups: i think you gotta look at it like this
Billups: what you're really in a twist about is a time when THERE WAS A HUMPTY HUMP
Billups: there are no more jesters dude
Billups: ODB is dead
Dr. LIC: i just had the strange epiphany that the weird earrrrrly 2000s era was marked by that "freestyle" commercial where jason williams and baron davis and sheed and odom were messing with the afrika bambatta beat. and bobbito was in there
Dr. LIC: (no idea why i'm chronicling the connection of nba/rap by sneaker commercials)
Billups: because the af1 commerical is about building some kind of mega-brand out of an idea of a new generation of cylons playing pick up in an airplane hanger
Billups: with just blaze

Billups: we're dealing with myths now
Billups: we're not tryna get to know the real lebron
Billups: the man behind amare
Billups: not the way mars blackmon made jordan human
Dr. LIC: i guess it's boring to say then it's the same thing with rap too
Dr. LIC: everybody is deified
Billups: sure!
Billups: the life and times of y dot jeezy: the innovation

Billups: let's get back on track tho
Dr. LIC: word
Billups: fucking jesse johnson took us off the path

Billups: i think hip-hop and the nba of today pose the same challenges and offer the same kind of rewards
Billups: i mean, like, what they offer as entertainment and beyond
Dr. LIC: oh ok
Dr. LIC: so you mean, myth
Billups: you can say that rap ain't like it was during 88/low end theory/illmmatic etc
5:05 PM
Billups: just like you could say the game done changed since mj/magic/bird/mark price
Dr. LIC: right
Dr. LIC: the standards changed
Dr. LIC: like michael smith was on around the horn yesterday "defending rap" from people saying that imus/rap were related
Billups: so, for casual fans, young jeezy and...gilbert arenas
Dr. LIC: he was like, "listen to the roots, common, talb kweli"
Billups: right
Dr. LIC: ucch
Billups: all that bullshit
Billups: i'm saying, you can lament the death of ball movement and mid-range jumpers the same way you can lament the lack of depth in lyrics or whatever
Dr. LIC: it's like, the game doesn't suck! watch avery. he coaches his players REALLY HARD
Billups: but to me, the pleasure is right below the surface
Billups: the stories, the characters, the skill, the moments, they're all there
Dr. LIC: damn, i just got depressed thinking that the phoenix suns might be the jurassic 5 of this whole shit
Billups: NO!

Billups: i think people just need to embrace the change
Billups: fuck oden
Billups: fuck franchise centers
Billups: fuck tribe getting back together
Billups: play durant at point guard
Billups: let andre 3000 rap over whatever the fuck he wants

Billups: there's a lot to love in rap and the nba
Billups: but you can't do it by just listening to hot97 anymore than you can do it by watching 10 minutes of a game on nbc
Dr. LIC: true...the lack of non-suns/cavs/heat/dallas games on national tv this year really fucks shit up
Dr. LIC: people forget (AND WILL REMEMBER IN THE PLAYOFFS) that watching vince and j-kidd play together is dope
Billups: but just like people are like WHEN JAY/NAS/KANYE/RAKIM/DRE/TIM DOG drops it's all gonna be ok
Dr. LIC: just like, i forgot i enjoyed prodigy
Billups: people get all jacked for SUNS/MAVS
Billups: or even worse, people like me think the NUGS will take out SAN AN
Billups: and you can't hang your hat on a fantasy
Dr. LIC: right
Billups: you gotta just enjoy it for what it is

Dr. LIC: prodigy 'return of the mac' will never outsell (insert your least favorite rapper)
Billups: dude
Billups: i see the soundscans!
Dr. LIC: haha
Billups: nobody is caking, people are psyched to go gold, THE SHINS OUTSOLD CLIPSE
Dr. LIC: YouTube montages of Ricky Davis dunking to a 2Pac soundtrack = NAPSTER!!!!!!!
Billups: right!
Dr. LIC: holy shit
Dr. LIC: i feel so liberated

Dr. LIC: ?

Billups: david stern = iovine
Dr. LIC: haha
Dr. LIC: antonio daniels = tru life
Billups: BUT!
Billups: Durant =
Billups: Picture of Nas next to the Source review of Illmatic
Billups: i put that up on gabesaid yesterday
Billups: that pic
Dr. LIC: Durant = Saigon. I feel like dude is just gonna snap in half --> GET SHELVED
Billups: no
Billups: you need jesus in yr life, bro

Dr. LIC: ok...back on track though. we should somehow tie this into the playoffs. and we need the nba analogy to koch
Billups: i see where you're going
Billups: but isn't it more like nba=def jam?
Billups: like the nba had icons the way def jam had jay, x, meth, etc
Billups: and now they're both stuck between trying to produce new stars while still producing the same product
Dr. LIC: rap really isn't producing any new "stars" though
Dr. LIC: just new one-offs

Dr. LIC: i see what you're saying though
Dr. LIC: because still, everyone who comes in the L is compared to the jordan/magic/bird era
Billups: i think people fetishize that shit the same way people fetishize anything else from that era
Billups: i mean, have you actually gone back and listened to some of those stretch and bob shows from the early 90s?
Billups: some of them really suck!
Dr. LIC: haha
Billups: just like vernon maxwell!
Dr. LIC: i only have the freestyle compilations (e.g. nba entertainment videos showing that kevin johnson dunk X 32!!!!)
Billups: ha!
Dr. LIC: why that era though for BOTH nba and rap?
Dr. LIC: because you had things like 'do the right thing' pulling it all together?
Dr. LIC: because bill clinton was just running shit?
Billups: well there's the obvious
Dr. LIC: because of the dream team + illmatic just coinciding by chance?
Billups: social/race shit
Billups: rap and ball will be intertwined until the league is 80% argentinian
Billups: and in the 90s i think there was a feeling of naive, humorous self-confidence in both camps
Billups: like, oh shit this is really happening!

Billups: people who watch espn classic and clock adrian dantley making lay ups
Billups: probably spend a lot of time downloading artifakts b-sides
Billups: on blogs
Dr. LIC: haha
Billups: i should know

Dr. LIC: i might actually go back to the clinton hypothesis really quickly. i was trying to think about whether that was a good period in my life and if that's why i fetishize it...but no
Dr. LIC: that period in my life sucked
Dr. LIC: it's just that the state of the world was good
Dr. LIC: except baseball fucking sucked
Dr. LIC: and now baseball is reggaeton, which is awesome
Billups: i don't really know if my life was any better or worse under clinton
Billups: than it is now

Billups: i think the sort of cynicism and shrugging acceptance people have of bad basketball and bad rap is consistent with how things are today
Dr. LIC: "is consistent with how things are today" explain what that means
Billups: well the fact that we're living in a time when our government regularly and brazenly commits crimes that make watergate look like littering and the public outrage is limited to commenting on talking points memo
Dr. LIC: that's what i thought you meant.

[At this moment, Billups decides to call me, tells me he has it all figured out. While dowloading “The Best of Pharaohe Monch,” he realizes that everyone is waiting for the next Stress: The Extinction Agenda or whatever Monch’s next move is. But really, all it amounts to is a Clinton Sparks mixtape, which is a mess of good verses = The Golden State Warriors, which we really should just all shut up and embrace.]


At 4/20/2007 12:37 PM, Anonymous geebs said...

man. really? sitting there grasping at the frayed shoelaces of a bygone era? it's this sort of cane-shaking, "remember when?" nostalgia talks that really irk me, in both basketball and rap. Sure, it was great back then, but as this points out, would those same figures even be applicable today? Look at the figures caught in the transition period-- (example: Paul Pierce, KG, etc.), it's disheartening to watch what could have been so great, fail to find any small bit of success. True, the game's done changed in both of the basketball and rap spheres, but looking back at the time you thrived as opposed to embracing the change is doing what you told yourself you would never do ten years ago: getting old. The conclusion which Billups arrives at is the correct one, albeit with much hand-wringing in the process. So yes, it is possible to rock a Drama tape, and enjoy basketball; and yes, some of those old stretch and bobbito shows really do suck now that you listen to them again.

At 4/20/2007 12:43 PM, Anonymous Ali said...

I know this doesnt relate to the post but it is a question I posted on Forum blue and gold and I was wondering if I could get a freedarko perspective. Does Kobe HAVE to get past the Suns this year and is it comparable to the MJ/Pistons rivalry of the early 90s. Kobe has done some amazing things over the past two years but if he pulls a David over Goliath..will this legitimize him as the air apparent, as the best player in the league. I love Kobe as a player but there is a part of me that feels that to really go to the next level in the pantheon of greats he has to get to the second round this year so even if KG or Oneal is traded to the squad next year ..it will be known that Kobe could carry this lakers team by himself..even in the playoffs. Thoughts?

At 4/20/2007 1:30 PM, Blogger emynd said...

"rap and ball will be intertwined until the league is 80% argentinian"

Real rap.

At 4/20/2007 1:50 PM, Anonymous ziploc b said...

"Billups: Durant =
Billups: Picture of Nas next to the Source review of Illmatic"

-truest shit ive ever herrrrd

-the rapification of yao ming needs to be properly studied: from its early beginnings of being provided stevie franchise mix cds to its now on-court manifestations in the form of swagger, please note:


no yao, they cant fucking stop you.

Rockets in 5

At 4/20/2007 3:07 PM, Blogger Paul the Gay Dolphin said...

shawn merrion = chali 2una

At 4/20/2007 3:27 PM, Blogger Phillip said...

One the musical highlights of my youth, first viewing of Hakeem the Dream wrecking shop to Kool Moe Dee's How Ya Like Me Now on NBA Superstars I on VHS. In fact that whole tape made the back of my neck tingle. I'd watch it, then hoop on the driveway for hours.

At 4/20/2007 4:48 PM, Anonymous eauhellzgnaw said...

The problem is that the annoying "back in my day" types are right: Rap was better in the late 80s/90 than it is now. Garbage got through, but not nearly as much, and garbage didn't dominate and elide criticism the way it does now: because of the whole "hater" defense, nobody calls out wackness anymore.

I would argue that the quality of basketball was better in the late 80s, but that has a great deal to do with the 6 fewer teams the league carried around. Well, that and the rule changes.

To me, basketball was more fun to watch in the "golden age" because the best defense was so damn rough--I happen to like physical defense, so that shit was right up my alley. The reason the mid 90s Knicks (and 00s Spurs) were so terrible to watch had more to do with their offense than with their defense.

There are a number of things to like about current rap and current ball, but it aint the same.

At 4/20/2007 5:34 PM, Blogger Kirk Krack said...

whatever, rap is awesome now. so is tyrus thomas.

At 4/20/2007 7:00 PM, Anonymous db said...

Great chat.

Rap, ball, and other forms of black culture are a mainstream commodity in the way they weren't back then. So the feeling of emergence that was there in the 80s post-ABA, like damn RunDMC is on MTV and a multi-racial NBA might have a chance at entering mainstream American consciousness, just aint there anymore, because what happened was that corporate white america countered the emergence with bought talent that could do the same job of giving some black flavour without the risk. The product managers have a range of options now - good because there is overall more hiphop going on and we don't want to go back to Go West in the stadium (please!), not good if you're wanting every expression of rap/ball to be authentic. The whole shit's just more diffuse.

And the funny thing is no matter how it's all painted, the game is still too black for middle america.


At 4/20/2007 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm actually gonna take the minority opinion here. Both Rap and Basketball are better now than they were.
When you look at rap guys are going on 2-3 yr runs where they are putting out mixtapes and albums non stop. Sure the percentage of good music to bad has dipped... but there is more quality music out there.
For the NBA I would say that a lot of the talk of the golden era being amazing is fueled by the fact that the major basketball centers LA, NY, Chi, and Bos are all in down periods so it's not "Golden Era" when a toronto team that most people didn't know about at the start of the season starts kickin ass. When basketball started letting highschoolers and euros into the league it took a hit. Now it's a few years later and the euros know the game and are balling, and the highschoolers have found their rythm and we're back to business as usual.
The NBA is at least a stronger league than it was in the Jordan era.

At 4/20/2007 7:55 PM, Blogger Chris said...

The state of the NBA. Real talk.

At 4/20/2007 7:57 PM, Anonymous eauhellzgnaw said...

"When you look at rap guys are going on 2-3 yr runs where they are putting out mixtapes and albums non stop."

That's a big part of the problem: people just put out any old garbage to see what sticks, as opposed to taking time to craft quality material. Who in recent years, aside from Ghostface, has put out anything back to back that's worth half a shit?

Plus, these mixtapes are sloppy: disjointed; recylcled or 2nd tier beats.

At 4/20/2007 8:21 PM, Anonymous db said...

Billups: rap and ball will be intertwined until the league is 80% argentinian

The most interesting rap is coming from Africa, and I think in 20 years the bulk of the L will as well.

At 4/20/2007 8:30 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

I tried to read this at work but it was too long; then, I respun it at home in text size large. I'm glad I did. What needs to be posted is Rosie O'D from DTRT with the Ice Cube. Christian Laettner is so street. If only he had played for the Jazz instead of Danny Schayes. P.S. T-Mac is like Tim Dogg. Jazz in 6.

At 4/20/2007 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Both Rap and Basketball are better now than they were."

I doubt that. The most popular rapper today is white a Canadian team in the playoffs. These are signs of the end of times.

At 4/20/2007 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best rapper was white for about 5 minutes... cuz if your talking about eminem he's just about retired and if you're talking about paul wall i'm not even gonna bother responding.
The Raptors in the Playoffs is what's up... If you don't like it tell isiah to get his team on point... then go holla at celtics and sixers and other leastern conference squads and tell them to step their games up. Raptors are the Truth right now.

At 4/21/2007 4:14 AM, Anonymous letsenjoythebbq said...

If the proliferation of sketchy, "hood"-looking tattoos of distended , wierdly muscled cartoon hoopsters and classy script stating one own's name is any idicator, basketball is wayyy more rap now. Also, the chest-thumping, post-dunk arm raising and general "Whhhaaaaat! Bitch!" posturing had a gangster feel to it, don't you think? Nothing ever sounds as good to me as the first two BDP records and nothing will ever excite me like Dominique did, but that's just a feature of being old. Objectively, "Move the Crowd" is a bit boring and nobody has ever dunked like VC. I get steamed when I hear Richard Jefferson state unequivocally that Carter is better than anyone before him. But my peevishness is pure nostalgia.

At 4/21/2007 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Raptors are the Truth right now."

The Raptors ain't shit. Besides, "The Truth" didn't even make the playoffs this year.

At 4/21/2007 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if by "raptors aint shit", you mean you dont know shit and probably havent seen them play then i completely agree

At 4/21/2007 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon hatin'!

At 4/21/2007 6:26 PM, Anonymous jmg said...

"Billups: there are no more jesters dude"

Killa keeps the computer computin'/jesters jestin'

At 4/21/2007 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"if by 'raptors aint shit', you mean you dont know shit and probably havent seen them play then i completely agree."

By saying "The Raptors ain't shit" I meant they're a fluke, they're nothin'. Now, had you said that Toronto's sick, I would've had to agree. After all, just a few years ago, Toronto was the center of the SARS epidemic.

At 4/21/2007 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the fuck does SARS have to do with basketball... a team wins a division and the best thing you can come up with is some lame ass SARS shit.
The Raps won a division and have one of the best young points in the league to go along with one of the best young bigs.
Way to combine two completely irrelevant and unrelated points just to prove maybe you really don't know shit.

At 4/21/2007 10:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahah a team wins a division. Some "division." They're in the ATLANTIC, you idiot. The Harlem Globetrotters could win that division. Even though the Raptors are the only team in that division to be over .500, they still managed to lose to the Nets, a .500 team. You can have your best young bigs and your best young points, because pretty soon they'll be the best young losers.

At 4/21/2007 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm gonna have to agree. The Raptors are only good because they're in a shitty division, they'll lose to the Nets for sure. Thinking the Raptors actually have a chance against the Nets is stupid. With that kind of mentality, I can see how you wouldn't get the SARS joke.

At 4/21/2007 11:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Raps have been murking teams since their slow start. The raps are a good team so it's interesting that people who probably don't know shit about the raptors are talking. How many better young points are there in the east than tj ford. How many better young bigs are there than chris bosh? Bargnani has already showed he's gonna be a nice player. I don't know if Bosh is FD but he's a problem on the basketball court.

At 4/22/2007 12:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll actually show some mercy on Toronto and say the Nets in 5. As far as your question is concerned, there are 2 young points in the East that are better than T.J. Ford: Sebastian Telfair and Nate Robinson. And I would also like to point out that Dwight Howard is better than Chris Bosh.

At 4/22/2007 12:55 AM, Blogger Dan said...

What of Jay, Nelly &c. and their role in team ownership? Or is front office irrelevant to the conversation?

At 4/22/2007 3:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sebastian "throw your guns in the air" Telfair aka 3rd string pg for a lottery team. Nate Robinson a moderately effective bench player on a lottery team. But i guess they giving you the best chance of winning every night and by winning i mean winning the draft lottery(Oden or Durant?)... you just murked yourself.
After how reckless you were talking i shoulda been expecting some weak shit like that.

At 4/22/2007 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You asked for young points better than Ford and I gave them to you. I see you didn't even touch the fact that Howard is better than Bosh, smart boy. And with every post, you manage to use the same 2 phrases, over and over: "murked" and "weak shit." Did you pick those 2 up on the mean streets of Ottawa? I bet you yell "Hibachi!" every time you press the "Publish Your Comment" button, too.

At 4/22/2007 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rap and basketball getting better? With songs that talk about chicken noodle soup, lip gloss, and sampling songs from ice cream trucks, I doubt Rap is getting better. Basketball is getting better, but that's only because of the international players. Without this outside influence, basketball would self-destruct at the hands of gun-wielding players American "players."

At 4/22/2007 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bosh > Howard.... and I'm yellig "Ottawa!" every time i press publish. Which is fucked up because i'm not even from/in Ottawa.

At 4/22/2007 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was browsin thru this site and when I saw the Bosh is greater than Howard comment, I knew I had to comment. ARE YOU INSANE? Dwight Howard would DESTROY Chris Bosh.

At 4/22/2007 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bosh - Go-to-guy on a better team, better scorer, better freethrow shooter,and btw he goes to the line more... can creat his own shot, good passer out of a double team.

Dwight Howard - Put-back machine..... so like i said before

Bosh > Howard

At 4/22/2007 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dwight Howard has a more superior inside game than Bosh and can get a double-double whenever he wants and could have his way with Bosh. In addition, Howard is a monster rebounder and shot blocker. As far as better teams are concerned, yeah, Toronto has the better record, but Orlando is more talented. I'd take Howard/Milicic over Bosh/Bargnani any day.

At 4/23/2007 10:30 AM, Blogger bfnh. said...

i'm just replying to say that i have "we don't play" on mp3. 192k at that. and, even if it wasn't mentioned -- i got my part of town, too.

At 4/25/2007 12:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, how fondly i can recall my summers in Illtown in the early 90's, each night being serenaded to sleep by the sweet melodies of some "east orange thug and b"... well played, sir.

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