(Photo via Justify Theory)
Sports and hip-hop go together like ESPN and Tim Tebow. Players are bumping Rick Ross in the locker room while Jay-Z sits courtside at Nets games. The relationship is so deeply intertwined, it’s only right that rappers show their athletic brethren some love by dropping their names in select songs.
But referencing sports giants like LeBron James and Michael Jordan can get played out fast. Even non-sports fans knows who they are. Rappers who truly know the landscape of sports like to dig a little deeper and reference players who make you do a little research. STACK presents the 11 most obscure sports references in hip-hop.
Songs: “TV in the Radio,” “The Black and Gold” and “The Artistic Integrity”
Lines: “I kick it/I kick it like Olindo/I wear my Nike boots in Gucci/I don’t wear no Timbo
“I could change a broad’s life in about an hour/I turn Ducks into Bucks, Luke Ridnour”
“I never back up like Cleo Lemon on myself/Lemonade connosieur/Life’s lemons coming out”
Wale might be the king when it comes to name dropping the most random athletes you can think of. He has many, but we decided to include three of his best. Wale’s in-depth knowledge of sports is evident in these lines, as he references a career backup quarterback (Cleo Lemon), an average place kicker (Olindo Mare) and a forgettable guard (Luke Ridnour). While the Lemon and Mare lines are good, the Ridnour reference is one of Wale’s best. Playing on Ridenour’s rise from the college ranks to the NBA (Ridnour starred at the University of Oregon, the Ducks, and had a brief stint with the Milwaukee Bucks), Wale includes the current Minnesota Timberwolves player in one of the most creative and obscure lines he’s ever spit.
(Photo via ESPN)
Song: “A Star is Born”
Line: Light the ****, coughing/I do it too often/Plus I got Henne (Henny) in the pocket like a Dolphin”
STS, an Atlanta native, can always be found rocking a Braves fitted cap atop his dome, so you already know he’s a sports fan. But his Chad Henne reference here is obscure, even for the most in-tune sports fan. Henne, the former University of Michigan quarterback who managed to land a starting job with the Miami Dolphins for two years, has a last name that sounds exactly like the nickname people give to Hennessy. Just as the Dolphins kept Henne in the pocket on the field, STS keeps the famous brand of cognac in his pocket during a night out.
(Photo via Bleacher Report)
Song: “Roth Boys”
Line: “And if it’s ball/I’d be Kirk Hinrich/Jayhawk beats like it’s my ****”
What we know of Kirk Hinrich: he plays pretty good defense and looks ridiculous in racquet ball glasses. The scrappy guard out of Kansas has a decent NBA résumé, having helped the Chicago Bulls to a few playoff appearances before settling into his role as backup to Derrick Rose. He floated between the Wizards and Hawks before returning to the Bulls this season. He’s a good guy to have coming off the bench, but his best years were in college at KU. Yet Asher Roth big upped him in his song “Roth Boys,” while using Hinrich’s alma mater as a means to say he destroys other rappers’ beats. You’ve made it to the big time, Kirk.
(Photo via Menu Dobol)
Line: “Talk tough till I take off your koof/And I own my team/I’m like a Maloof”
Lil’ Wayne, between sips of that purple drank, loves to talk sports. The New Orleans native used to write a blog for ESPN, has sat courtside at NBA arenas across the nation, and has always loved including sports references in his music. As his popularity has risen, Wayne’s music has strayed toward the mainstream, with sports references usually of the star variety, name dropping guys like Brett Favre and LeBron James. Nothing too obscure there. But in his song “Blooded,” Weezy references the Maloof brothers, co-owners of the Sacramento Kings. It might be a random reference, but it shows the former Hot Boy’s wealth of sports knowledge.
(Photo via The Kobe Beef)
Song: “We the Champs (Duke vs. North Carolina)”
Line: “When I was 15 I was ******* my knees up/Baseline lane drives dunking like Ariza”
The trio of rappers who make up Pac Div are west-coasters, Californians to be precise. The guys are big Lakers fans, and they seem to vividly remember the 2009 Playoffs, when Trevor Ariza came out of nowhere to help boost the Lakers to their 15th NBA title. Unfortunately, 2009 was Ariza’s only memorable year. Since then, he has bounced around among three different teams, and he’s now withering away with the winless Washington Wizards. Pac Div’s Ariza reference may have a lot of listeners hopping onto Google to look him up, but it appears that Pac Div will forever remember his glory year as a Laker.
(Photo via One Man Fast Break)
Song: “Return of Simba”
Line: “She said, look my ******, we got a foot in/Being good is good, that’ll get you Drew Gooden”
Drew Gooden had some time under the limelight as a member of the LeBron James-led Cavs, where he played minimal defense and grew weird facial hair before being shipped off to Chicago in 2008, never to be heard from again, aside from his strange hair-growing battles with DeShaun Stevenson. That is, until J. Cole brought him back from the dead when he referenced his name in “Return of Simba.” Cole’s name dropping hasn’t helped Gooden much on the court though, The big man is averaging just 12 minutes and 5 points a game so far this season.
(Photo via The Hoop Doctors)
Song: “Swag on a Milli”
“Well I’ma kick it off, Gramatica/I never do it by the book/No Britanica”
We’re not sure whether NFL kickers signed a contract with hip-hop artists guaranteeing that they be referenced in their songs at least twice a year, but we’ve already got two on the list. Paz drops a Gramatica reference on “Swag on a Milli,” and although we can’t be sure which Gramatica brother he’s referring to, it’s OK because Bill, Santiago and Martin all kicked professionally in the NFL. Let’s just hope it’s not Bill, who is mostly known for tearing his ACL while celebrating a made field goal. It’s never that serious, bro.
(Photo via Bleacher Report)
Song: “Black Boy Fly”
“I used to be jealous of Aaron Afflalo/He was the only one to follow/He was the only leader foreseeing brighter tomorrows”
Aaron Afflalo is like a a cup of vanilla ice cream: tasty and smooth, but not that exciting. There’s nothing wrong with Aaron Afflalo. It’s just that 20 years from now, no one will remember who he was. And although Afflalo means a little more to Kendrick Lamar (he went to high school with him), in a few years people are going to hear “Black Boy Fly” and say “Wait. Who was he jealous of? A guy who worked for AFLAC?”
(Photo via F Basketball Blog)
Song: “Supa Dupa Lemonade”
Line: “Bank account got me feeling Well, Fargo/Balling until I get a Milicic (mill a check), Darko”
Darko Milicic will forever be remembered as the overhyped European big man who was taken second overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 2003 Draft (over Carmelo Anthony) and immediately flopped. One of the biggest busts in NBA history in relation to how high he was taken and his lack of playing time in Detroit, he has somehow managed to remain in the league for nine years. Detroit native Big Sean loves to rep his city, and it doesn’t hurt that Darko’s last name contains letters that together sound like “million” and “check.” It might be the most publicity Milicic has received in his career.
(Photo via Celtics News)