Nobody is great at everything. The world would just be so unfair if that were the case.
Therefore, chances are that if you're a superstar athlete who makes millions of dollars per year playing basketball/football/etc., you're not the greatest rapper in the world.
Nelly once said that he grew up wanting to play Major League Baseball. But once he figured out that that was never going to happen, he turned his sights elsewhere and became a spectacular OK rapper.
Similarly, lots of professional athletes should have come to the conclusion that since their rap careers were hopeless, they should have focused their attention solely on athletics.
Unfortunately, they did not.
Even if you're the best of the worst, how good does that make you?
It makes you Iman Shumpert.
The Knicks point guard has been heralded as the least-embarrassing of all athlete rappers, a very honorable designation. But even Shumpert himself understands that being lauded as the best in his peer group doesn't get him very far.
In a 2012 interview with ESPN.com, Shumpert said of his competitors:
They’re pretty bad. I don’t like it when people compare us. If an athlete plays the guitar, they say, “That’s so cool, he can play the guitar.” But if a guy raps, they say, “Please don’t be another rapper,” only because the rappers are so bad. I promise I’m not anything like that. Just listen to the tape. And if you don’t like it, turn it off and turn on the TV, because I’ll be back on the court soon.
At least he has the swagger necessary to be a hip hop star.
It's important to acknowledge that unlike many of the other entries on this list, the 1985 Chicago Bears gave us a gift in the form of "The Super Bowl Shuffle." There is nobody who dislikes "The Super Bowl Shuffle." It's infamous.
But that doesn't make it good.
Still, you can't dispute the fact that this jam (see it here) was a serious commercial success. It sold over 500,000 copies and registered as high as No. 41 on Billboard's Hot 100.
Plus, the best part about "The Super Bowl Shuffle" is that the Bears backed it up with an actual Super Bowl victory after going 15-1 during the regular season.
Shaquille O'Neal deserves some credit. Without him, who knows how many athlete-rappers we would have been deprived of over the last several decades?
As a rapper, Shaq was a maverick. In 1993, he had the brilliant and groundbreaking idea to release the first-ever studio rap album by an athlete still playing professionally. Somehow, the creation—entitled Shaq Diesel—registered in the Top 30 on the Billboard charts and went platinum.
You can't argue with that success.
Just for context, though, the song "F*** It (I Don't Want You Back)" registered in Billboard's top 20, and I don't think anyone is calling that Eamon creation a bona fide masterpiece.
Obviously Terrell Owens had to release a rap record. There is nothing that T.O., one of the most self-absorbed wide receivers in the history of professional football, wouldn't do.
But he really should have kept this one under wraps.
Not only do the lyrics make zero sense, but T.O.'s flow is just painful to listen to.
But hey, as long as he believes that "T.O. is the main reason the fans come for," that's all that matters.
You would think that in this day and age—in the year 2013, after we have seen so many professional athletes try and fail at rapping—some of the guys who hadn't yet given hip hop a try would find a way to restrain themselves.
But you would be wrong.
For some unknown reason, Metta World Peace decided to celebrate his signing with the New York Knicks by dropping the above travesty. Formerly, as plain old Ron Artest, he released a terrible rap about winning the NBA championship with the Lakers, and despite the fact that "Champions" was a colossal failure, he would not be deterred from a second foray into rap.
You would think that when the Brooklyn Nets were vetting their head coaching candidates they would have found this disaster and sent Jason Kidd to the bottom of the heap.
Apparently, though, the Nets were willing to overlook their newly-introduced head coach's failed foray into rap despite what it suggests about his judgment.
Kidd—or "B-Ball's Best Kept Secret," as he calls himself—recorded this jam in 1994. Granted, he was only 21 at the time, but that's no excuse. Kidd should have trusted his instincts after hearing his own voice played back and decided to nix the whole endeavor.
Despite what the lyrics suggest, no one wants to know what the Kidd did if this is what he came up with.
To Charles Barkley's credit, at least he knows that athletes trying to rap is a joke. Whereas his peers actually thought they could create viable hip hop careers for themselves, Barkley was in on the joke and decided to embarrass himself for the sake of Taco Bell—and for the sake of making a really good Super Bowl commercial.
In 2010, the then-retired Barkley "rapped"—if you can call it that—in a Super Bowl spot for Taco Bell, and the world was never the same.
With lyrics like, "The five-buck box—it rocks, it rocks," how could you ever belittle Barkley's insane abilities?
Something terrible happened when the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
If you recall, there was a very popular rap song during that era entitled "Black and Yellow." Incidentally, those are also the Bruins' colors (kind of—it's more like gold, but we'll allow it for the purpose of this story). Thus, during their Cup run, the Bruins adopted Wiz Khalifa's anthem as their theme song.
So when they won Cup and presented it to the city of Boston during a rally, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand thought it would be a good idea to perform that theme song for the throngs of fans.
It wasn't a good idea. Not at all. Go to the 1:30 mark to experience the secondhand embarrassment yourself. Be prepared because it's excruciatingly painful.
Just because you can does not mean you should. Words of wisdom Floyd Mayweather should have lived by.
Also, just because you're friends with 50 Cent (or used to be) doesn't mean that you, too, are a rapper. More words of wisdom.
"Money Mayweather," as he likes to be called, created the above insult to music in 2007. It's important to realize that many people can film a rap video. Many people can cavort in a pool surrounded by females, or wear an enormous cross on a gold chain.
But that doesn't make you a rapper.
By blocking Allen Iverson's song from ever being released, David Stern did us all a favor.
In 2000, Iverson created and recorded a tune entitled "40 Bars," but in a tragic turn of events, he was forbidden to release it and sell it for a profit because of its controversial lyrics, which were deemed to have been homophobic.
Really, Stern was doing Iverson a favor.
Now, if only the commissioner could find a reason to stop all of AI's contemporaries from releasing their own records…
In some ways, Deion Sanders kind of set the trend for athletes who woke up one day and decided they could be rappers.
And he also set the trend for those athletes who found that, as rappers, they are terrible.
Sanders really could have stuck with football. Really, he would have been just fine, with his eight Pro Bowl selections and two Super Bowl rings. He even could have stuck with being a two-sport professional athlete. That would have been enough to set him apart from all the others.
But instead, he had to make a rap video in which he wears a terrible suit, gazes at himself adoringly in the mirror and frolics about while wearing his own jersey.
It's understandable that Delonte West wanted to give rapping a try. His NBA career wasn't exactly fledgling, so he needed to try his hand at something else in the hopes that he would be moderately more successful.
Delonte West—or just plain D. West, as he likes to call himself in rap circles—released a "preview video" in anticipation of his first rap album. All you need to listen to is the preview video to understand why D. West never made it as a hip hop phenomenon. In fact, his preview been heralded by some as the worst athlete rap video of all time.
Also, talking in time to a beat and posing in the suburbs in front of a car doesn't make you a rapper. Just saying.
Kobe Bryant is renowned for having attempted to jump-start a rap career in his younger days. He is also renowned for having created a terrible, terrible product.
Kobe could have just stayed focused on becoming one of the best players in NBA history. Instead, he had to try his hand at a musical career. No, but really—according to Grantland, he actually lived in a record executive's mansion for three weeks during the summer of '98 in order to train to become a hip hop star.
Clearly, that record executive should be fired, because the above is what Kobe came up with.
Recently, San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker made a devastating announcement: He is retiring from rap.
How the angels wept.
In actuality, Parker was one of the very worst of all the athlete rappers. In 2007, Parker—perhaps feeling on top of the world after earning his third NBA championship—released a rap album entitled T.P. in his native French.
You don't even need to speak French to understand that this stuff is awful.
Fortunately for all, Parker recently announced on Tele-Loisirs (via Yahoo! Sports) that he is "retired from music."