Tag Archives: Guru

10 Excellent Rap Lyrics Referencing the NBA

In the midst of a stellar NBA Playoffs, something great happened. No, not the triple overtime Thunder/Grizzlies game or Dirk making Chris Bosh cry. I’m talking about a 2010-11 Bulls theme song recorded by Chicago rapper Twista, some guy named Mario Winans and … power forward Carlos Boozer.

Obviously, when Booz raps, we need to listen.

Here is what he rhymes says:

Mike check one, two, one two
Mike check one, two, one two
Dream it, believe it, do it, let’s go
Already know I cross ’em over, take ’em to the hole
Look back, thank God — look forward, trust God
That’s why when I’m in the paint, ya know I go hard
Might go baseline one time and abuse ya
Run back down the court like ya know it was Boozer
I used to be another lil fella with some hoop dreams
Now I’ve got the game laced up, shoestrings

As far as NBA rappers goes, his flow is actually not horrendous. By comparison anyway. Luckily, there are actual professional MCs who rhyme about the Association as well.

Those of you who have been reading this site for a while are aware of the ongoing NBA Lyric Project. We’re trying to compile as many references to the league and its players as we can. So far we have a bunch. But I’ve been slacking off on this for awhile, slowing accumulating some in a Word file as I hear them but not really adding much to the online list. There are a ton more from the comments on that page as well, but below is a big list of the ones I just now added.

And since the actual basketball is over for the year and LeBron being the Antichrist is boring to talk about … here is a list of the my 10 favorite lines of this recent lyric dump. Joe Budden gets the MVP with Tash being Sixth Man of the Year. As for Redman? I still haven’t figured out how a guy who put out Muddy Waters could give us that “Mrs. International” verse.

I’m not mad, Reggie. Just a little disappointed.

10. Royce Da 5’9″ – “Second Place”

“You about to see how far that Paul Rosenberg’ll go
The height of my game is like a Demar ‘Rozen vertical”

Thoughts: Royce has been increasingly spitting NBA lines since combining with hoops-heavy lyric generator Joe Budden in Slaugherhouse — a group you can tell I’ve been listening to a ton lately. (See also,  #7, #4 and #1.). This “Second Place” track is the much-anticipated Premo-laced leak from Nickel Nine’s upcoming solo album Success Is Certain.

9. Tash – “Hip Hop Drunkies”

“I’m death-da-fyin, you rappin like my client
Tryin to scrape me for the style that slam harder than Kobe Bryant
BE QUIET. This is Likwidation from the West
Muthafuck ya bougie show, I got my own special guest”

Thoughts: I have no idea how this wasn’t already on the list. Perhaps it just goes to show that even I underrate Tha Liks — and especially Tash as a lyricist — as much as I criticize others for doing. This (as well as “Awww Shit,” which has an NBA lyric of its own listed below) appears on their stellar LP Likwidation.

8. Ludacris – “Trill Represent Trill”

“I’m shiny star spanglin, ding-a-ling danglin
Luda the sheet swisha, broke the record of Wilt Chamberlain”

Thoughts: Luda is usually at his best when acting like a third-grader, as he does here by rhyming “ding-a-ling danglin'” with the Stilt’s surname. It’s on Bun B’s first (and weakest) solo effort, Trill. The second offering of Bun’s “Trillogy” is my favorite although most seem to prefer the third.

7. Royce Da 5’9″ – “Not Tonight”

“The mixture of Magic and MJ passion
Get in the way it’s gonna be tragic as MJ passin'”

Thoughts: I personally didn’t find it all that tragic — not as much as the man’s late life — but Royce has a good line here delivered with his signature good flow on a great album.

6. J-Live – “The Zone”

“It aint no doubting that my life is charmed
My passport got more ink than NBA arms”

Thoughts: Not the greatest or most original line, but you should be reminded to listen to J-Live more often so I included it anyway. Then What Happened features this track and is fantastic, but The Hear After is probably an even better release.

5. Sean P – “Fuckin Wit A Gangster”

“Listen, everything I spit is real and I mean it
Jigga paying Dwyane, I’m paying Gilbert Arenas”

Thoughts: For the full background on the genesis of hip hop’s ongoing jersey number/price of cocaine meme, check out this post. But the short version is that Atlanta trapper Young Jeezy once said he could buy a kilo of coke for $23,000 (LeBron’s jersey number at the time) while BK entrepreneur Jay-Z countered by saying that he is such a big-timer in the dope game that the same weight only costs him $3,000 (Dwyane’s number). Both guys were lying. And Brownville’s “Broken Rapper You Know” Sean P ups the fib ante here, saying that he doesn’t even pay for his blow — it costs him $0 (Gilbert’s number at the time) because he just robs other drug dealers. (This track is from the overlooked but rather decent Ruste Juxx/Marco Polo collabo The Exxecution.)

4. Joe Budden – “Something to Ride To”

“In New York, they say I’m crazy, like Rodman was
In New Jersey, I’m what Petrovic, Drazan, was”

Thoughts: When starting out this project, I said we were only going to include stuff from studio albums. Mostly that was just because I didn’t want to be responsible for going through Lil Wayne’s 5,000-mixtape catalog and transcribing all of his estimated 748 NBA references. And there was no way I was going back to listen to all that Dipset nonsense. But Joey’s Mood Muzik “mixtapes” are basically albums anyway and this line, along with some others from his most recent edition, deserve to be cataloged. RIP Drazen.

3. Vinnie Paz “Children of God”

“I heard children sing Allahu Akbar in Turkey
One had a Russian AK, dirty Iverson jersey
I don’t know if it made me proud or if it disturbed me
I guess it’s not as bad as kids being fucked by the clergy”

Thoughts: Jedi Mind Tricks front man Vinnie Paz has a couple of my favorite NBA lines: “I point, god, like Brevin Knight” and “call me Mike Fratello baby, ’cause I call the shots” among them. This one, appearing on Vinnie’s Heavy Metal Kings album with Ill Bill, is only slightly related to hoops, but it is now one of the deeper/more uncomfortable rhymes on a list that is mostly just braggadocio.

2. Tash – “Hip Hop Drunkies”

“See this the type of shit niggas don’t try at home
I come funkin’ up the spot like Micheal Jordan’s cologne”

Thoughts: We all know one kid who actually bought this foul-stankin’ garbage back at a time when anything with MJ’s name on it moved units. Imagine if LeBron tried this? Or Lamar Odom. Oh wait …

1. Joe Budden – “Black Cloud”

“Motivation the game was supplying me, it’s no longer providing me
Jayson Williams, something killed whatever was driving me”

Thoughts: This line on Mood Muzik 4 floored me when I first heard it. Damn.


(And here are all the other new additions. I still have a bunch more to add, but feel free to drop favorites/omissions in the comments.)


Go ahead jump
No matter how high you get you gonna come up short like Spud Webb

Royce Da 5’9″
“Above the Law”
Hell: The Sequel (Bad Meets Evil)

My daddy got a bad back so it’s only right that I write
’til he can march right into that post office and tell em to hang it up
Now his career is LeBron’s jersey in 20 years

Royce Da 5’9″
Hell: The Sequel (Bad Meets Evil)

Each region breeds some MCs that wanna be, though it means that they wanna breathe our air
With these ideas, anybody thinking’ the game don’t need
the Bad and Evil regime
that’s like saying the Bad Boy Piston team didn’t need Isiah

Royce Da 5’9″
“Welcome 2 Hell”
Hell: The Sequel (Bad Meets Evil)

Yo, I need dollars
So I beasted niggas up in the game with a tech like Rasheed Wallace

Sean P
“Mad Mann”
Monkey Barz

When the god squeeze the tool
Set it off on a midget, the Kareem Abdul
Jabbar, pa
Sean the star — without the necklace
Catch a rapper slippin’, his ass is breakfast

Sean P
“M.A.S.T.E.R. P”
Master P

Maybe now I see why Marvin just needed to holler
And if you know me, treat a hurdle like I’m Igoudala

Joe Budden
“Something to Ride To”
Mood Muzik 4

Remain focused, that’s what I tell myself now and then
Don’t wanna go back to that block like where Varejao defend

Joell Ortiz
“Sound Off”
Slaughterhouse (

The real crack music, approach the fiends,
they approaching me I approach a beef around there
Nigga your career will go down hill like Kobe’s team

Black Milk
Popular Demand

So here’s the deal like Shaquille O’Neal
If you don’t know whatcha doin, how the hell can you be real?

Hard to Earn (Gang Starr)

They love me cause my swag is so jockish
Freshman year saw a ring like I’m boxing
You voted most likely to never ever top this
I’m Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman … in my hometown

Big K.R.I.T.
“Hometown Hero”
K.R.I.T. Wuz Here

This is the concrete jungle
The game don’t fumble
Stand tall like Mutumbo
Reportin’ like Bryant Gumble

Jim Jones
24 Hour Karate School (Ski Beatz)

Went on the grind, I’m ducked out from my bucket
Glean the post, I’m smart so they call me Tim Duncan

Sick Pulla
“A-Town Stomp”

Of course my metaphors are tight
Awesome, right?
I got em in awe — my aura’s Jordan-like

Nino Bless
Halfway House (Joe Budden)

I ain’t being distracted by nothing
Midget-size to Dikembe, I ain’t back up from nothing

Young Chris
“I Can’t Go on This Way”
The B. Coming (Beanie Sigel)

Who Riders get it poplin’ like Bugaloo shrimp
We got a permanent job in rapping, you just a temp
And I pimp the flow like Imp the Dimp
And I run around with 40s like my nigga Shawn Kemp

“Likwit Ridas”
Likwidation (

But still I got to pull my brew out the chiller
Tonight it’s goin’ down like the house of Reggie Miller

“Awww Shit”
Likwidation (Alkaholiks)

Parking lot pimps
9 out of 10 more parking lot simps
Ladies want lobster but settle for shrimps
Dikembe Mutombo, blockin all attempts
Niggaz ain’t pimps

“After the Party”
The Get Back (Little Brother)

I aint playin’, I can look Yao Ming straight face up
I’m back like Kobe Bryant after rape case, boy

“Used to Be”
UGK 4 Life (UGK)

Spark the game like CP3 from Tennessee to New Orleans

Illa J
“R U Listening”
Yancey Boys

Girl, ya so fast, but now you out of breath
I got ya ass, I got a fast first step like Monta Ellis — with the rock

Illa J
Yancey Boys

Hey Miss Thang, hey Miss Thang
How ya gonna miss me, I got tickets lets roll to the Knicks game
You Tina Marie and, baby, I’m Rick Jaaaames

“Mrs. International”
Blackout 2 (Method Man and Redman)

Listen to Me Talk on the NBA.com Podcast

My man Sekou Smith (@sekousmith01) reached out recently to invite me onto his NBA.com Hang Time podcast. We recorded Monday (I think) so I’m linking a little late (was away for work), but most of our 20-minute talk centers on topics with enough shelf life to make it worth a listen even a few days after the fact.

We talk NBA nicknames, NBA hip hop lyrics and try to decide what NBA player most reminds us of the late, great Guru of Gang Starr — which leads to a heavy debate on Dirk’s legacy. (BTW, I should have murdered Vince Thomas, co-host of Hang Time, for saying CL Smooth is better lyrically than Guru, but I let it go. My all-time comparison for Guru would without question be Scottie Pippen: another always-reliable Hall of Famer to run alongside the best that ever did it.)

I jump in at the 11-minute mark and serve as an opening band of sorts for Mike Fratello, so you’ve also got that look forward to. I’m sure The Czar is just as honored as I am to be included in this Episode 6 description: “The Czar, Mike Fratello and blogger Jared Wade join Sekou and Vince to break down the playoffs so far.”

Maybe someday Fratello will not only get the chance to have his name near mine in a sentence, but actually get to join me for real on my Talking About Practice podcast. Hey, he can dream.

Head on over to listen to Episode 6 of the NBA.com’s Hang Time Podcast.

And be sure to subscribe on iTunes.

NBA Hang Time Podcast

Mourning Gifted Unlimited

When I revisited The 50 Greatest NBA Commercials of All Time, I ranked the Gang Starr-scored Nike commercial with Darius and Q-Rich at #27. But today, after the untimely passing of a musical giant, it’s definitely #1.

If you’re not familiar with Guru and Gang Starr, become so. Pick up Step in the Arena. Buy Moment of Truth. Download Daily Operation illegally if you have to. The rhyme style is elevated. The style of beats is elevated. But it’s still Guru and Premier — the two men that, together, became the best to ever do it.

You will be missed, Guru.

UPDATE: Listen to this.