Rap and basketball are inextricably linked—the vast majority of entertainers in each fields usually hail from the identical communities and grew up in the identical tradition. It’s greater than doubtless that should you made it doing one, you most likely had desires and aspirations of doing the opposite too. As such, crossover is inevitable and infinite. J. Cole’s current stint as a professional participant is an echo of the true run Grasp P tried to go in within the late ‘90s. Everybody from Kobe to Allen Iverson has a rap tune or 5 to their identify if not a complete venture. Kevin Durant govt produced the newest Drake album. LeBron James, one among our most essential music critics, additionally invented the deluxe monitor. The checklist goes on, however one take is universally held as reality: if we’re speaking crossover success tales, Shaquille O’Neal is the Gold Customary. And he simply hit everybody with a giant reminder final night time.
First, let’s again up: Rick Ross and Meek Mill are releasing a brand new album, known as Too Good to Be True. The title is an correct description of most collab tasks, however it is a massive deal—Ross and Meek’s reunion is as shut as we’ll get to the halcyon early 2010s of Maybach Music Group, once they had been one among, if not the hottest label squads out, with Ross’s roster spearheaded by Meek and DC rapper Wale minting membership hits, avenue bangers and radio smashes with ease. It was a time when each Meek verse gave the impression of he wanted to be extinguished after leaving the sales space, Wale churned out melodic radio hits like it was nothing, and other people of style knew there was a actual, credible argument to be made for Ross’ lifelong buddy Gunplay being the most effective rappers out. French Montana, additionally at his peak, was a detailed household buddy regardless of being formally beholden to Dangerous Boy Data. Even bemusing selections like signing Omarion yielded an simple monitor or two (and later, in true Ross style, A1 punchlines admitting it didn’t work out.)
Alas, all good crews come to an finish. Ross and Meek had a short (and fortunately by no means that severe) interval of estrangement, Wale has since departed for Def Jam, Gunplay is out and in of bother and endorsing Donald Trump amongst different problematic conduct, and so forth.
All of that’s to say, whereas Ross and Meek have been no stranger to that includes on one another’s albums nonetheless, it’s a thrill to see them actually again collectively, buying and selling verses over a imply, gritty beat for “Shaq and Kobe,” mean-mugging in a music video that appears like Michael Mann directing Dangerous Boys 4 and in full album rollout mode up at radio stations with Funk Flex like it’s 2011 once more. They saved the momentum going with an solely slightly-less-hard album minimize that flips Jay-Z’s basic “Lyrical Train.” And final night time was their greatest coup but, with a “Shaq and Kobe” remix that will get one among its namesakes again in his rapper bag. (The unique tune, save a “hustling 24 hours” double entendre, is gentle on overt NBA references and moreso simply alludes to the duo’s historic dominance. Rap and ball, linked as ever.)
Nineties infants and NBA/hip-hop followers alike are all too accustomed to Shaq’s rap profession, which started not lengthy after his 1992 draft to the league, peaked along with his 1996 album You Can’t Cease the Reign, and petered out proper earlier than the beginning of the brand new millennium. The annals of rap historical past are affected by aspiring-rapper-athletes—All-Stars who regardless of their achievements on the courtroom couldn’t resist the urge to be an entertainer of an analogous however totally different fabric. A lot of the music deserves participation trophies at greatest; few ballers got here as right as Shaq did within the 90s, with albums graced by manufacturing from the likes of RZA and Erick Sermon and options from the most popular singers and rappers of the second. Who else can boast having the primary monitor with Jay-Z and Nas collectively (in ‘96 no much less, what style) or delivering a true-blue rap basic alongside prime-era Infamous B.I.G. with the titanic but nonetheless clean “You Can’t Cease the Reign.” It’s not even a case of letting the graceful beat journey out till you get to Frank White’s verse—Shaq is definitely spitting. (Further Credit score homework: the late, nice DJ Kay Slay’s underrated 2006 flip with Shaq, Papoose and Bun B.)