Hip Hop's Relationship with Sports: From Scoreboard Anthems to Athlete Shoutouts

Hip Hop's Relationship with Sports: From Scoreboard Anthems to Athlete Shoutouts Music and sports have always had a close relationship, but perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the world of hip hop. From the early days of breakdancing and graffiti in the 1970s to today's multi-billion dollar industry, hip hop has been intertwined with the world of sports at every level. It has provided the soundtrack for some of the most memorable moments in sports history, and has given athletes a platform to express themselves through music. One of the earliest examples of hip hop's relationship with sports came in the form of "scoreboard anthems." These were songs that were specifically created to be played at sporting events, with a focus on getting the crowd hyped up and energized. In the 1980s, Run-DMC's "Rock Box" became one of the first hip hop songs to be played at stadiums and arenas around the country, setting the stage for a new era of sports music. As hip hop continued to grow and evolve throughout the 1990s and 2000s, it became an even more integral part of the sports world. Athletes began collaborating with rappers on songs and music videos, and hip hop artists started to name-drop famous athletes in their lyrics. This led to a whole new genre of hip hop known as "athlete shoutouts," in which rappers would rap about their favorite players and teams. One of the most famous athlete shoutouts in hip hop history came from Jay-Z, who name-dropped Michael Jordan in his song "Can I Live" in 1996. The lyrics, "I'm Michael Jordan, I play for the team I own," were a reference to Jordan's brief stint as a baseball player and his ownership of the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan and Jay-Z later became friends, and Jordan even appeared in one of Jay-Z's music videos. Another example of hip hop's relationship with sports came in 2000, when Allen Iverson collaborated with rapper Jadakiss on the song "Jada's Got a Gun." The song was written in response to Iverson's controversial arrest on gun charges, and it became a rallying cry for the Philadelphia 76ers. The team went on to make it to the NBA Finals that year, with Iverson leading the way as the league's leading scorer. Hip hop has also been an important part of the Olympics, with many athletes using music to get them pumped up for their events. In the 2016 Rio Olympics, American swimmer Michael Phelps was seen listening to Future's "Stick Talk" before a race, while Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was known to listen to dancehall and reggae music to get himself in the right mindset. Despite hip hop's widespread popularity in the sports world, it has not been without its controversies. In 2015, rapper Meek Mill accused Drake of using a ghostwriter for his verse on the song "R.I.C.O.," which led to a public feud between the two artists. The feud spilled over into the sports world when Drake was seen hanging out with members of the Golden State Warriors during the NBA Finals, leading to accusations that he was a "bandwagon fan." Ultimately, hip hop's relationship with sports is a complex and multifaceted one, with both positive and negative aspects. From providing the soundtrack for some of the greatest moments in sports history to giving athletes a platform to express their passions and frustrations, hip hop has left an indelible mark on the world of sports. Whether it's a scoreboard anthem or a shoutout to a favorite player, hip hop and sports will continue to be closely intertwined for years to come.

Top 5 Athlete-Shoutout Songs in Hip Hop

  • "Michael Jordan" by Kendrick Lamar
  • "I Got 5 on It (Remix)" by Luniz featuring Dru Down, E-40, Richie Rich, Shock G and Spice 1
  • "Floyd Mayweather" by Young Thug featuring Gucci Mane and Travis Scott
  • "LeBron James" by Yo Gotti
  • "Victory" by P. Diddy featuring Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes

The Bottom Line:

Hip hop and sports have had a long and often complicated relationship over the years. From the early days of scoreboard anthems to today's athlete shoutouts, hip hop has provided the soundtrack for some of the greatest moments in sports history. While there have been controversies along the way, hip hop's relationship with sports remains a vibrant and dynamic one. As both industries continue to evolve and grow, it will be exciting to see how they continue to intersect and influence each other in the years to come.