It’s been repeated to the point where it’s something approaching conventional wisdom: “All rappers want to be basketball players, and all basketball players want to be rappers.” While that’s sort of a racist assumption, it’s undeniable that a shit-ton of NBA players have released rap songs, and there is a very competitive celebrity basketball league that has both Jim Jones and Asher Roth in it. The deeper truth here is that no one is ever happy with his job, even when that job consists of “dunk really awesomely” or “be Lil Romeo.”
While the Nas of NBA players-turned-rappers is indubitably Shaq—dude rapped like Lil B crossed with U-God and actually got to mumble a probably-ghostwritten-by-Method-Man-or-somebody verse on a Michael Jackson record one time—there is an illustrious history of NBA players making sorta-goofy rap songs that are interesting mainly for their what-the-fuck factor. Allen Iverson made a Ma$e-Will Smith mashup track that David Stern stopped the release of (presumably because it was too competent). Tony Parker did a rap thing in French and it was the worst. Did Gary Payton put out something that sounded vaguely like G-Funk? Yes, Gary Payton did.
These days, it seems, the NBA is in something of a rap renaissance. Marquis Daniels raps sort of well, at least by the standards of an alternate universe where everything is shitty. Delonte West could be a very thin-voiced Future. Iman Shumpert of the Knicks does spoken-word poetry and has been known to kick a freestyle or two. Kevin Durant raps and it’s not too shabby—he recently collaborated with Stephen Jackson on a song about winning at life and also presumably sports, which is the topic of 99 percent of NBA raps.
Of all the rapping NBA dudes out these days, Jackson is pretty much the best, mainly because he very clearly cares the most. He’s from Houston, which means he has really good taste in rap, gets to use the word “trill” a lot, isn’t afraid to swear, and even got DJ Scream to host his What’s a Lockout mixtape, which featured the likes of Alley Boy, Trouble, Z-Ro, and motherfucking Scarface. Obviously, the reason people listen to Stephen Jackson is because he’s an NBA player—no one is like, “Yo, put on that new S-Jax joint!”—but he’s at least trying.
Warning: The volume on this goddamn fucking thing is way too loud.
Which brings us to Metta World Peace, whose newest single, “Represented,” was released yesterday. Not to get all “Professional Rap Critic” on you, but the song sucks a gazillion dog dicks. It sounds like he’s trying to be a different rapper every single bar (He’s rapping too fast on purpose like late-90s Cam’ron! Now he’s some generic Atlanta rapper! Now his inflection’s making him sound like Vast Aire!?!?), which is usually a thing that happens when you write your verse and try to match it to the beat once you’re in the studio. Oh, and the beat itself sounds like a barely-warmed-over Zaytoven leftover. This is not, unfortunately, Metta World Peace’s first foray into the music world. He also put out a really dumb song called “Champions” and operates a “media group” whose website contains a chat room that, when I decided to check it out, contained, myself included, exactly one member. On his media group’s home page, Artest endorses a cell phone that’s also a watch that MWP claims to like because it allows him to “play defense,” among other things, while wearing it.
Unlike Jackson, MWP doesn’t seem to really care about rapping—it’s just one more fun thing for him to do while he’s hanging out in LA, just like his attempt at stand-up comedy, his record label called “Tru Warrier,” and his bizarre, painfully awkward YouTube videos. Pretty much everyone realizes his rapping is a joke, including Jackson, who wouldn’t let him appear on his new mixtape. Maybe that’s because MWP never thanked Jackson for helping him duke it out with fans that one time a few years ago; maybe Jackson just decided that MWP's flow wouldn't be right for this carefully curated musical project. The point is that Metta is so garbage at rap that even other guys who rap as a hobby want nothing to do with him. Don’t quit your day job, dude. Whatever that is.