The Cultural Crossover

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Music and Basketball Have Been Intertwined Since the Beginning of Time

We have heard this time and time again.

NBA players want to be rappers, while rappers want to be NBA players. The crossover between music, specifically hip hop, and basketball is unlike anything in the world of pop culture.

The two compliment one another.

In the 80’s and 90’s, it was the likes of LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Notorious B.I.G., and Jay-Z, influencing the rap industry on the east coast. On the west coast it was Tupac, the Dr.Dre co-founded group known as the N.W.A. and Ice T. Most recently, rappers like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott and J. Cole all help shape and influence basketball culture. Rap is something NBA players grew up with. It helped mold their fashion and influenced their style on the floor, but the music goes far beyond what fans see when Trae Young dabs up Migos court side following a NBA contests.

Beyond the bright lights of NBA arenas, rap has a strong ties to inter-city basketball.

Whether its MacGregor Park in the south, where the likes of Moses Malone and Clyde Drexler honed their craft, or Mosswood Park out in the Bay Area, the earliest development grounds of Jason Kidd and Gary Payton, or the infamous Rucker Park out in Harlem, music has been intertwined with the culture since our favourite NBA stars were kids.

On Friday, one of the more influential rappers of a generation passed away.

DMX was 50-years old and passed away after an overdose. His authentic and hardcore style of rap has long been a prevalent fixture in NBA circles. From his “what” ad-libs to his barks, DMX’s music was heard on NBA telecasts and was featured in basketball video games. Over the weekend, NBA players voiced their sadness and offered their condolences to the family of the late DMX. DMX’s legacy will not only live on in his music, but it will be carried by the countless NBA stars who were inspired by his music when they were kids.

That is the epitome of rap’s influence on basketball – an influence that will surely last until the end of time.

As the style of rap changes and becomes more flashier, so does the NBA game. Trap hip-hop has begun to grow in popularity over recent years as artists have started to introduce to methods of expression through music. The fashion is different too and similarity, the same shift has been seen in the NBA.

Stars like Russell Westbrook and Kyle Kuzma dress far different from what we are used to seeing, while the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have taken the game to new heights, introducing new skills that have become a commonplace in the game today.

We have truly come a long way since the AND1 boom and that is the power of the cultural crossover.

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