A wise man once said “I swear sports and music are so synonymous ‘cause we want to be them, and they want to be us.” There is a lot of truth in that quote, especially considering the influence the game basketball has had on the lyrics of our favorite hip hop artists. Emcees since the beginning of time have been referencing the NBA in their music. From Kurtis Blow to Jay-Z, the game of basketball and the rap game are inextricably linked.
Hip hop culture has influenced the way players dress, talk, and maybe even move on the court as their favorite songs serve as the soundtrack to their basketball activities. There is no denying that basketball and hip hop go together, and this list shows the influence basketball has had on your favorite hip hop songs over the last three decades.
That said, here are the 50 — in no particular order — of the greatest NBA basketball references in hip-hop history.
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[ALL VIDEOS & LYRICS NSFW]
1. Name of the track: “Basketball”
Artist: Kurtis Blow
Lyrics: “Just like I’m the king on the microphone, so is Dr. J and Moses Malone / I like slam dunks, take me to the hoop my favorite play is the alley-oop / I like the pick-and-roll, I like the give-and-go / Cause it’s basketball, uh, Mister Kurtis Blow.”
2. Name of the track: “Encore”
Lyrics: “As fate would have it, Jay’s status appears / To be at an all-time high, perfect time to say goodbye / When I come back like Jordan, wearing the 4-5.”
3. Name of the track: “Put Your Hands Up”
Lyrics: And y’all scared I can tell / That I’mma get Bucks like Milwaukee, cause like Sam, I ca’ sell.”
4. Name of the track: “Gimme The Loot”
Artist: Notorious B.I.G.
Lyrics: “I’m slamming n***as like Shaquille, s**t is real /When it’s time to eat a meal, I rob and steal”
And then there’s one of the greatest basketball lyrics ever… even if it’s not technically about the NBA: Either you’re slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot
5. Name of the track: “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
Artist: Kanye West
Lyrics: Oh am I late? No, I already graduated / And you can live through anything if Magic made it / They say I talk with so much emphasis / Ooh they so sensitive”