Forget LeBron James’ attempt at covering a Jay Z track with Mannie Fresh and DeMarcus Cousins’ “Boogie Smooth” April Fool’s prank, there are actually some crazy-talented rappers on the NBA’s roster. The big dogs such as Shaquille O’Neal (whose inaugural album actually went platinum) and Joe Smith have set the bar high for those following in their footsteps. Luckily, today’s NBA spits a mean game. Here are five players that just might have a fallback option if basketball doesn’t work out.
Lou Williams AKA LouWill
The Atlanta Hawks point and shooting guard dropped his first single track earlier last year, entitled “Playin Wit Dem Racks” and featuring Anakin & Bop. Since, he’s sent up a debut mix tape called Here Goes Nothing. Williams AKA LouWill got into the game while on leave because of an ACL injury, and certainly made use of his connections with notorious rapper Rick Ross. This builds on some of his earlier forays into freestyle rap and other work he’s done with the Meek Mill crew.
Iman Shumpert AKA 2WO 1NE
NBA players that rap rarely have the time to regularly throw down, but Iman Shumpert AKA 2WO 1NE is fairly consistent. The Knicks forward’s latest is “Versace (Freestyle),” a cool piece building on his Knicks anthem that plays to New York’s more hardcore fans. It was released around the same time he dropped “Dear Kendrick,” a response no doubt to Kendrick Lamar’s epic diss track aimed at everyone in the industry. Shumpert’s got game if he’s up to defending his hometown’s rep against the LA rapper that declared himself “King of New York.”
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a star on their hands. Team forward Kevin Durant has been known to dabble in the rap world, and he even let slip a while back that he’s thinking about releasing a full-length rap album. Now that Pharrell Williams has signed on with Adidas (KD’s on the team), there’s a chance the two will hook up to produce some more beats. Durant’s been going hard and even dropped another track earlier this season. He wrote a single with OKC-area rappers entitled “Whole Life,” and it’s actually damn good. Previous tracks he’s worked on include “Worried Bout Tomorrow” by Privaledge. His rise to prominence in the rap world has been aided somewhat by his ongoing feud with Lil B, who called the player out in “F*ck KD (Kevin Durant Diss).” Sometimes, it pays to make the right enemies.
Metta World Peace AKA the artist formerly known as Ron Artest
It’s been a while since Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, first began his rap career. In 2006, the New York Knicks forward released an album called My World, which lead up to his eventual 2010 founding of Artest Media Group, a brand management company that represents several musicians (including MWP himself). With his music cred solidly in place, MWP has released several singles, including “Peace” just before this season kicked off and “Represented” in late 2012. Interestingly, the long-time activist’s music continues his penchant for advocacy.
Tony Parker AKA Tony P.
Born in Bruges, Belgium, Tony Parker’s native tongue produces a polarizing brand of rap and hip hop. Unfortunately, the Spurs point guard just announced his retirement from the music career which began way back in 2007 with his first and only full-length French rap album, TP. From within the album, Tony P. released “Balance-toi” and “Premier Love” as singles. Does it sound cheesy to westerners? Yes. But did he do it well? Absolutely. “Balance-toi” hit number one for a week back in France, which is no easy feat. At least now he’ll have more time to devote to being awful at free throws.