Sunday, November 17, 2013

NBA/Rapper Comparison: Underground Edition

Basketball season is upon us already and since i don't want to do a team by team breakdown because i do not care how teams like the Milwaukee Bucks will do this year especially since they let the second best shooting guard, Monta Ellis, go. He said that with a straight face and that is why i love monta ellis. So my preview isn't going to look at the best players at every position like i did with baseball or with football because honestly for basketball it goes Lebron, Durant, Kobe when healthy, and everyone else. So i'm going to be boring and do yet another installment of my athlete-rapper comparison series. I did one for baseball and one for basketball previously and if you will be so kind and help me get some extra page views, don't hesitate to check them out. I can't believe there is still all these rappers and athletes who have yet to be mentioned yet in the series. Next year i'm probably going to end up being down to U-God and Marcus Camby. This time i'm adding a little twist to it. I'm going with an underground edition so you''re going to see people listed that you may not know if you're a casual fan of either hip-hop or the NBA. The point is not for me to be snobby and trying to show off any special knowledge because i don't have any but it is more of a way to get you guys to check out either the music of the artists or start following the players because i like all these guys i'm about to list with the exception of a small number. By the way, i know the season already started but if you want a team by team preview, go watch Bill and Jalen's NBA preview. Highly informative and equally entertaining. GIVE THE PEEEEEOOOOOOPPPPPPLLLLEEEEEEEE WHAT THEY WANT.

I thought Fat Trel had been signed to MMG for a while now but i guess it was just made official on November 6th. Anyways if you never heard Fat Trel, you most likely have heard of Chief Keef. If you have never heard of Chief Keef you don't listen to rap at all but that's cool because i don't discriminate. Fat Trel is like a good version of Chief Keef to put it simply.  Fat Trel glorifies violence. When people talk about what is wrong with hip hop, they will point to someone like Fat Trel. If Fat Trel had more notoriety, which he definitely will now that he is signed to MMG, then he would be up there with Chief Keef as the poster boys for what is wrong with rap nowadays. He talks his shit but he is good at it. Is there a large guy in the NBA who loves talking shit, is constantly chastised as the poster child for what's wrong with today's young players, but at the same time is damn good at what he does? Yup, and that man is Boogie don't call him demarcus Cousins. Like Fat Trel striking gold by signing to MMG, Boogie got himself a nice 4 year $62 million deal to stay in Sacramento. His game is very nice for a young player but he still does stupid young player mistakes like take his 7 foot 270 pound body away from the basket and shoot jumpers. He has a good post game, idk why the coaches don't just plant him there and let Boogie go to work. Then again that was last year, and seeing as i haven't watched a Kings game yet, i'm going to assume Mark Malone
utilizes Boogie's talents better than his other coaches have. Shout out to these guys too for having great names. Fat is a nice alternative to all the Lils and Youngs. And Boogie is right up there with Boobie in terms of fool proof nicknames.

I know it seems weird to put up Kevin Love and his floor general Ricky Rubio on this list because they're not necessarily thought of as underrated per say but i rarely ever hear them in the conversation when it comes to top duos in the NBA. They have yet to play one full year together so we don not know yet what they can unleash onto other teams. Ricky's lockout shortened 2011 season was cut short by an ACL tear and Kevin Love was plagued by injuries all of 2012. They better get something going in the right direction too because Love has stated that he is getting frustrated with all the losing and would want to leave Minnesota if the team does not progress into the right direction soon. He would look good in a Warriors uniform, just saying. With Rubio's passing ability they already are one of the more lethal pick and roll duos in the league and if Rubio can improve his scoring ability that would make the duo even more lethal because they can do the reverse pick and roll with Love handling the ball. With all the potential these two have, i guess you can say they have Underachieved. With that terrible segue, let's talk about the duo from Flatbush who seemingly exploded out of nowhere within the past year. The Underachievers (consisting of Issa and AK) signed with Flying Lotus' label Brainfeeder so hopefully they can collab with Azizi Gibson. At the beginning of this year they dropped a very good mixtape in my opinion with Indigoism and started this Beast Coast Movement with Pro Era and Flatbush Zombies. The Underachievers and Flatbush especially are pushing psychedelic rap and have injected life into a stagnate rap scene in 2013. It's an unconventional style kind of like how the Timberwolves went unconventional with the all white starting 5 but that didn't end up too well for them. My concern with UA is that because of their seemingly narrow range of subject matter is that it may get old and obsolete within a few years, maybe even less. I'm rooting for them though. Case in point, their second tape, The Lords Of Flatbush, did not do it for me. With Lex Luger on the beats, the tape was full of bangers but it didn't have the same effect for me as Indigoism did. In their defense i believe the two said they were trying to just make a tape full of bangers which is cool but we need that Indigo shit back. I'm hoping the Underachievers don't underachieve in the future and keep making them hits. Although i can see them breaking off and doing their own thing a la Kevin Love leaving Minnesota.

Now we're getting to a couple of vets who aren't quite yet OG's in the game but have been on their grind for a while. Yung Nipsino has been on his music grind since the mid 2000s and gained recent notoriety for his proud to pay campaign where he charged fan $100 for a mixtape full of throwaways. Again i don't understand who would buy it but he apparently sold all the copies so props to Nipsey and his fans. He's a smart individual and won't take any deals if it's going to cut him short. Staying independent is the reason Nipsey has flown under the radar for mainstream fans but anyone who listens to hip hop beyond the radio has at least heard his name. With his gangbangin past he is also someone you wouldn't want to get into a confrontation with. Speaking of people you don't want to get into a physical confrontation with, David West sits near the top of that list. Obviously he is a huge dude but he makes other NBA players look small. His muscles have muscles. David West too, like Nipsey Hussle has been underrated for far too long but if you watch basketball, you know David West would be a welcome addition to any team. I had no idea he actually won AP Player of the year for college basketball back in 2003, but i digress. He was stuck in irrelevancy with New Orleans where he was a on a couple of good teams but was always
overshadowed by Chris Paul which is understandable. He then moved on to the Indiana Pacers where he has taken a backseat to Paul George and Roy Hibbert but nonetheless is going to have to show up big for the Pacers to reach their goal of winning it all this year. So let's give Nipsey some love buy supporting his movement and show West love by voting him to the all star game, even if he isn't at that level this year but the all star game is a joke anyways.

SWAGGY P!!! One of my favorite players simply for the fact that Nick Young is exactly the kind of player that i would want to be if i still played ball. Essentially he is a poor man's JR Smith which is actually pretty sad when you think about it. But who cares, all he does is jack up jumpers, he is a black hole on offense, and we are all better people for witnessing the greatness that is Swaggy P. He even got a date with Iggy Azalea. Other than his on the court talents, he is on here because he has a distinct southern Cali look. He wears hideous shirts, has terrible haircuts, has irrational
confidence all in the name of swag. I realized during the writing of this comparison that it was kind of a reach but i'm comparing Nick Young to Dom Kennedy. If Nick Young personifies Southern Cali as a basketball player then DK personifies the region as a rapper. He has a laid back style, good beats to ride to, and always is fashion conscious but not in a weird ASAP Rocky kind of way. Dom just seems like a cool ass dude in the same way Swaggy P seems like someone you would want to chill with. 

100s brought pimp rap back with his 2012 mixtape/album Ice Cold Perm, which you can either buy or get fo da free by following the link on his bandcamp page. I swear it was like Too $hort had a son and 100s is what came out. The Berkeley native signed to Fools Gold in the summer so that goes to show the people over there see something in the young kid and don't see him as just a sideshow which is what i feel a lot of people see him as. 100s has this pimp persona that he played to perfection on the aforementioned Ice Cold Perm Tape but has stated in interviews that it is indeed a character he plays. The problem is that he could have won an oscar for that performance it was so good and even had a song on GTA V called Life Of A Mack. 100s mentioned he wants to do an r&b album for his next project in the mold of something like Prince but we will have to wait and see if he can pull it off. That one dimentionality is the same problem Deandre Jordan faces as the center of the LA Clippers. He is an athlete. Jordan was blessed with genetics because without it, he would not be in the NBA. If he was 6'6 i feel like he would still be in the NBA, that is how good of an athlete he is. The only thing he does well is a product of how high he can jump. Like 100s, he is a part of a loaded team and has a
distinct role within the confines of the squad. Until he can develop some versatility, jordan is going to be known for one crowning achievement throughout his whole career. I just want to say thank god the Clippers matched the Warriors offer when Golden State tried signing him a couple years ago.

You guys should know by now i think Big Krit is without a doubt one of the best out right now. He is my favorite artist and i've been supporting the dude since he dropped Return of 4eva. Krit has an all around game, if you will. He makes his own beats, and does it well. He isn't some dude who just started messing around with beats but he has a distinct sound, works samples in very well, and conveys a message without having to say anything. When he does say something, Krit has the lyrics that makes him relatable to many listeners but isn't going to wow you with some crazy new flow or switch flows up mid verse and spazz out. He will give you images, clever wordplay, and get his point across. Critics say he sounds too southern on the mic but to me that just adds to his style. He is a jack of all trades who still hasn't broken out but don't get it twisted. Just because he hasn't received more mainstream recognition does not mean he isn't dropping quality projects. Everything he drops is quality so support the man. Speaking of someone needing to breakout we zero in on Philadelphia's new alpha dog for the time being, Evan Turner. Turner was selected number 2 overall back in 2010 and with that draft position came the high expectations. The funny thing is that high expectations were bestowed upon him yet if i remember correctly his projection as an NBA player was a jack of all trades, but master of none kind of guy. With Jrue Holliday gone, Turner this season is having his best year in the pros and flashing that do everything potential promise he showed at Ohio State. He can handle the ball, dish it out, get to the basket, and i don't know how he is as a shooter but if he has stroke, then that gives him more weapons to play with. Both Turner and Krit have the ability to become difference makers, it is now just a matter of getting the right opportunity and capitalizing on it.

Mr Muthafuckin eXquire/Joakim Noah
This may seem kind of weird seeing that Joakim Noah isn't exactly an underground basketball player but i still don't think he gets the credit he deserves as a basketball player. I may be wrong but it's just my perspective on it. I feel like fans just see him as a hustle player which is true but there's much more to him game than diving for loose balls and getting easy buckets. He is a smart defender who plays his position as well as anyone in the league despite not being the prototypical big man like a Roy Hibbert. As a Center, he is very well at guarding smaller guys on switches and obviously can hold his own against the Dwight Howards of the league as well. He'll get in your face, bother you all night, and straight up just not give a fuck if he pisses you off. He comes from royalty, sort of, with his father winning one of the Tennis Grand Slams (i forgot which one) and his mom being a Miss Some European country so he grew up not needing basketball as a way out but he loves the game so much he put forth his all his efforts to it. Which brings me to Mr Muthafuckin eXquire who apparently only goes by eXquire now but you gotta say the whole thing like A Tribe Called Quest or A Pimp Named Slickback. I don't actually mind the name change because i assume that means he is going for radio play in an effort to get more exposure. Like Noah, Mr MFN eXquire has an underground style that isn't too sexy to the masses but students of the game have no reason to doubt the man as a threat. He doesn't exactly come from rap royalty or from a wealthy family but he comes from Flatbush, Brooklyn which has always been ripe with rap talent. So he pretty could soak in the art of rapping through osmosis. Mr MFN eXuire doesn't back down from anyone on a track as evidenced by this and that, plus he has multiple flows he can kill a track with. He can spit just to show off bars, he can tell stories, and he is a very smart dude. The intelligent hoodlum is a something i have heard to describe Mr Muthafuckin eXquire. If you're not careful you might actually learn something by listening to his music. If you didn't see how these two are similar, it's cool, i just wanted to give them a shout out and tried my best tying them together.

We got The Professor in the house and no i'm not talking about this guy. Although shout out to him because he made the after school AND 1 tour very fun to watch. The Professor i'm talking about is Andre Miller of the Denver Nuggets. The definition of a veteran/player-coach/future head coach, etc. I was not a believer in OG Miller's ability as a difference maker until the playoffs last year when he single-handedly beat the Warriors in Game 1. Anyways I've always been aware of Miller from his time with the Cavs back in the day but he had never been the GUY on a team. The latter part of his career has revolved around him being that player-coach on the floor who is there to make sure the team does not fall apart when the starters need a break. Every good team needs to have a player like Miller who is able to fill a multitude of intangible roles which is why he is still playing at a serviceable level. When he retires it won't be headline news on ESPN and we won't be carving out a Hall Of Fame bust for him but he is the kind of guy that makes the game of basketball special. You obviously need talent and athletic ability to play in the league but when Father Time catches up to you, players like Miller show you can still be effective by playing to your strengths and playing fundamentally sound while keeping your body in as good as shape as you possibly can. It seems like flying under the radar and staying true to himself was perfectly fine with Miller and the same can be said for Starlito out of Nashville. Lito is a rapper formerly known as All Star Cash Prince who was signed to Cash Money, but that time has passed and he is now on that independent grind. He flies under the radar because he isn't a guy who going to look for the banging beats or kill you with exotic wordplay but he is very straightforward yet poetic with his rhymes. He been on that grind for some time and seems to always be releasing critically acclaimed material. He just released Step Brothers 2 with Don Trip which i still need to cop. Although Lito has said he still has dreams of making it big, he is cool with making money on tours and making music for his fanbase. He knows who he is as a man and an artist and won't be doing anything out of character because he knows what got him to
success. Lito and Miller are just two vets in the game who not only know what the game is about but know how to play the game as a means to carve out a niche for themselves. I think once they hang it up, they still will be underrated in retrospect but people will look and be like "damn they really were slept on."

Gangsta Gibbs and Paul George have been putting Indiana on the map in recent years with their quality work. Both have gone from relative unknowns to figures oozing with potential to guys who are right at the cusp and maybe need another season and album to solidify their seat at the table. Paul George was not heavily recruited out of high school which is why he ended up at Fresno State. He developed into a late bloomer however and ended up as a lottery pick with the Pacers back in 2010. George's first couple of years saw the potential start to flash but was still seen as an athlete and not yet a basketball player. Then his play last year took a significant leap with him adding a 3 pointer to his game. This combined with superior athleticism and tenacious defense made him budding superstar. In the playoffs, George took his game to another level and matched Lebron shot for shot in their seven game series which secured a max contract for himself. He wasn't content with where he was at and worked on his dribbling during the offseason to the point where he has become a true all around threat. There is nothing he can't do on the basketball court and he does everything exceptionally well. George even isn't afraid to take shot at the Chicago Bulls like when he said Chi-town's time at the top of the division is over. Speaking of the Chicago Bulls and taking shots we have the Bulls number 1 rap fan in Freddie Gibbs who had no problem verbalizing his distaste for Young Jeezy after his split from CTE. He wasn't exactly sending shots over to Jeezy but more so just telling the truth (from his perspective). Anyways before the CTE split and starting of his own label, ESGN, Freddie Gibbs was an unknown at Interscope who never saw the light of day while at the label. So they split up and Gibbs got on his independent grind and released some good projects, The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs and Midwestgangbangcaddilactrunkmusik, to acclaim while still flying under the radar.
However, those projects were enough to land him on the XXL Freshmen cover in 2010 and the magazine proclaimed him the savior of gangsta rap. And because true gangsta rap, aka not Rick Ross rap, is pretty much dead on the radio the tales of Freddie Soprano has been banished to the underground. That doesn't mater though because he is still dropping quality projects and i have said this before in that i have yet to hear a subpar Freddie Gibbs verse. The reason for this is because he has many different styles and flows that he can tackle. He can tell you stories, hit a double time flow like few others can, or just rap to show of his bars. It all is delivered with the almost perfect voice right now in the game for rapping. He has it all in my opinion and is the best gangsta rapper out right now. George and Gibbs seem to just be getting better and should be household names by now (although George is getting there) but because of where they are, playing for the Pacers and being an independent rapper respectively, they aren't getting the proper notoriety they deserve.

There you have it...the underground edition of the Rapper/NBA comparison. Let me know if you agree with it, disagree with it, who would have been better comparisons, who should have been compared, etc, etc. Just some quick thoughts on the NBA season is that the Golden State Warriors are for real but let's just hope they don't run into the Grizzlies in the playoffs. The Spurs are still going to do their thing as well as the Heat. Once Derrick Rose shakes off the rust, the Bulls have a legit threat to make it all the way. The Thunder are dangerous with Westbrook coming back but they don't have the same fear factor they flashed from a couple years ago. The Rockets are going to live and die by the three since Dwight Howard has no idea what a post move is apparently and is going to be a reincarnation of the Orlando Magic teams Dwight forced his way out of. This season is going to be unpredictable and makes for one of the better ones in a while. Also, Johnny Hedricks was robbed last night against GSP. If you are unconvinced because GSP landed more punches or whatever just look at the interviews after the fight. GSP looked like he got jumped in a dark alley, couldn't speak, and admitted he couldn't remember much of the fight. Johnny Hendricks spoke like a functioning member of society and did not have a scratch on him. If you were to look at that image, 100 people out of 100 would say that Hendricks won the fight. But that's just life when you have judges scoring a fight. Also shout out to Big Boy...Happy Birthday and can't wait until you come through.

Cam'ron- Girls

Action Bronson- Pepe Lopez

Ab Soul- Drift Away

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