Who'd Win an NBA Rap Battle Tournament?
Hip hop and basketball go together like peas and carrots. Or like Eric B. and Rakim.
Ice Cube confirmed that he once easily achieved a triple-double, so we know that rappers can ball (per "Today Was a Good Day").
But are there ballers that can flow? Absolutely. There have been and always will be.
But this tournament is limited to active players, so Cedric Ceballos and Dana Barros are ineligible.
So here are the six active NBA participants in the inaugural rap tournament.
And just to be clear for those of you shirking duties at your job, most of these videos are not suitable for work.
Lou Williams is from Memphis, but he seemed right at home in Philly. His autobiographical rhymes combined with some overproducing make for a good Sixers anthem. Too bad he's on the Atlanta Hawks now.
Williams also boldly reveals that he made his first million before he got laid, and I applaud his honesty and his chastity.
Sweet Lou features on other tracks, such as "I Want It All" by Philadelphia's Meek Mill. It's more of the same from Williams, but it's not bad. I've omitted it here because of the auto-tuned hook.
Overall, Louis Williams can rap well enough to make a decent song, but his skills can't compare to the NBA's rapping elite. Lou's bound for a first-round knockout.
I don't think Williams will fret about it too much, because he's obviously a very cool cat. In 2011, he stopped a carjacking because the criminal attempting to rob him happened to be a fan of his. Williams then treated him to some Mickey D's (per ESPN).
And just like would happen on the court, so too in the rap battle, Kevin Durant schools Lou Williams.
Durant is the only superstar to crack the list, and his hip hop handle is "Trey 5." Somehow, I wish it was "Durantula," but that really only rhymes with one thing.
Trey 5 reps Maryland pretty hard, which matches his tattoo nicely.
As for his rapping chops, I was a little worried when the line, "I keep it chill," was followed by the line, "Yeah, I keep it chill."
But I was overjoyed to see Trey 5 wrapped it up with this: "Man I'm looking like a prince while I'm thinking I'm Uncle Phil."
Trey 5 raps in such elongated measures, his rhymes are really just an extension of his lanky limbs. While he won't win any rapping titles, he advances to the second round of the NBA rap battle.
Marquis Daniels is better known to some as "Q6." He's also got a diamond-studded chain made in the image of his own head.
And he's got a video for "Kome Here Nikki" styled after Grand Theft Auto.
While the video is well-produced, Q6's rhymes are about as plodding as his play on the court. He's useful in short bursts as part of a talented collective, but ultimately, results are rather unspectacular.
Daniels does hail from Orlando, so that partly explains his slow flow, but he still makes a first-round exit.
Metta World Peace
And Marquis Daniels is ousted by none other than Metta World Peace. Growing up, Metta was "comin' outta Queensbridge" just like hip hop luminaries Nas and Mobb Deep.
And way back when he was known as Ron Artest, World Peace was a rapper. In 2006, he released a 21-track album called My World.
And he wasn't joking. The album came with a full-length DVD of live performances, and MWP got legitimate hip-hop artists to guest star like Capone from Capone-N-Noreaga.
From what I've heard of the album, it's decent overall and includes a few high points. While World Peace doesn't have much of a flow, his lyrics are fairly good and downright funny at times.
Sometimes, they're just true, like on "Haterz:" "I admit I used to smoke right before games/had to ease the pain in the brain was insane/Halftime hit the liquor store for a half pint/my dude got half his life took with a black knife."
"Fever" is one of his better songs—partly because it's enhanced by World Peace starring in the video—and even includes a dubbed-up epilogue to the track.
Many will know of Artest's hip-hop career from his creatively titled 2010 release, "Champions." It dropped just days after his L.A. Lakers won the title and features comparisons of himself to Cassius Clay, Barry Bonds, Dale Earnhardt and Michael Phelps. He also employs auto-tune in it.
But the '06 material is his best stuff, and it shows the depth of his ability when he's focused. Still, MWP doesn't have enough to make it past the semifinals.
Iman Shumpert pulled an upset on Kevin Durant in the semis, earning a well-deserved trip to the finals.
Last year, the rookie out of Georgia Tech made waves around the NBA with his stifling defense and excellent athleticism.
After tearing his ACL in the playoffs, Shumpert suddenly found himself with a lot of time on his hands, and that's when he began flashing his off-the-court style.
Now we have his glorious flattop, copious Instagram pictures of his sneaker collection and a handful of rap videos.
Shumpert flows with an enunciation that suggests many hours spent listening to De La Soul. I'm not sure why his belt costs more than his pants and I'm not crazy about the chorus, but his rapping is pretty tight.
And he seems set to crank out many more tunes for years to come, with a small catalogue already. But who will he face in the tournament finals?
Stephen Jackson has skills. And so does his rapping alias, Stak5.
He takes down his old friend from the Indiana Pacers, Metta World Peace, in the semifinals. That sets up a sensational finals against Iman Shumpert.
Jackson is from Houston, so he's probably been coming up on hip hop since the Geto Boys and UGK.
He released a mixtape titled What's A Lockout? in December of 2011, which actually includes a track with Scarface from the Geto Boys. The mix proves that Stephen Jackson is a really good rapper.
I know, I'm just as surprised as you.
The above song, "Cars and Clothes," is not very inspirational, but it does feature Jackson's sick flow. While he can't bring lyrics as fast or as effortlessly as, say, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Stak5 is legit.
He's also got a nice rap over "Ball So Hard."
It looks like Stak5 got caught up in the revival of Houston's hip hop scene.
Stephen Jackson and Iman Shumpert bring an old-school versus new-school flavor to the tournament finals. But does the veteran have it in him to beat the young blood?
Both essentially engaged in a rap battle with their own versions of Kanye West's "Clique."
Shumpert's version is all about the New York Knicks, which limits his material but gets points for being centered on the NBA and repping his team hard. He does a pretty good job with the lyrics, and I especially enjoy the way he works Pablo Prigioni in there.
But Stak5's "TRILLmix" is incredible (skip to 0:35). If this guy couldn't ball, he'd probably be a millionaire from hip hop instead.
"Trillest ni— Stern let into the league, now I'm seeing more bread than lettuce and some cheese." That is pure gold.
Jackson only cares about one thing, and that's winning. And Shumpert didn't really stand a chance against him. Stak5 has Shumpert beat in discography, street cred and rap collaborators.
While Iman does things like "parkin people on 21 Shump St" (via his Twitter) and carrying himself with a hipster swag, Stak5 keeps it rough.
When Serge Ibaka had the audacity to get tangled up with Jackson's former teammate Metta World Peace (yeah, the one from the semifinals), Stak5 tweeted out something that earned him a $25,000 fine: "Somebody tel serg Abaka. He aint bout dis life. Next time he run up on me im goin in his mouth. That's a promise. He doin 2 much" (per ESPN).
You do recall that Jackson doesn't like anyone messing with World Peace, right?
Now, Stak5 has hooked up with Trey 5 (I mean, Kevin Durant) for "Lonely at the Top." Though that track is underwhelming, Stak5 still brings his tight flow.
It could be the greatest all-NBA hip-hop duo of all time.