There is a certain storyline being pushed out in the last couple of weeks by the Republican Party, or whatever is left of it, as it has sought to counter claims of sexual assault against Donald Trump by pointing out how rap artists, apparently the muse of all liberals, regularly write violent lyrics directed toward women. Obviously the implication is that the rap artists we all love don't respect women, and therefore we are all being hypocritical in critiquing the Donald.
It's a lazy, simplistic, and not very nuanced argument that's completely disconnected from reality about what certain rap artists are actually talking about and what listeners actually get from the lyrics, and whether you can really lump all rap artists into one collective misogynistic bubble. We could go on a whole discussion about music interpretation, or about styles of rap, but that's not the point here.
On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Minnesota Lynx 77-76 in the deciding Game 5 of the WNBA Finals. Candace Parker won a professional title for the first time, and tearfully thanked the late Pat Summitt during a touching post-game interview.
This was the type of moment fans remember for a long time. The reality, though, was that the majority of the sports public was most likely tuned into the Cubs vs. Dodgers NLCS Game 5 or the Thursday night football game between the Bears and the Packers.
And yet, through the stream of endless tweets about the injured Bears' quarterbacks, or the resurgent Cubs offense, came a series of remarkable tweets from rap artist Vince Staples in support of the Sparks and the WNBA.
Staples is insanely talented, put out one of the best albums of the year (even though it's "only" an EP), and generally speaks his mind. Like, for example, when he caused a shit storm by calling 90s rap overrated. In an interview with Noisey, he explained:
"You can't sit here and tell me that—the conversation wasn't about the music being good or bad, it was about the effect and the impact on pop culture. You cannot name me one artist in that time period that was bigger, globally, than a 50 Cent or a Kanye West, or—that's when Jay Z got really big, in the 2000s, or Eminem after his album came out in 1999. Lil Bow Wow was playing stadiums with Omarion. That means shit got huge. You get what I'm saying? But we can't be honest with ourselves. I feel like motherfuckers don't care about everything as a whole. They care about their spot in it. So if you were a part of this era, specifically, it's like, oh yeah, this was my shit. I was there, so fuck you. Because I'm important, I'm special. No, you're not, nigga. You're not important. None of us are important. The songs are important. Fuck everybody else."
It's Staples' ability to go against convention that makes him so special. And really, what other Los Angeles area rapper would ever call out Magic Johnson??
All of this is not to say that rap artists are more enlightened in their values about women than what Republicans might think, or that the WNBA is on the verge of a cultural moment. Fitting this into one box is akin to making the same flawed argument that puts all rappers into a negative light in the first place.
This is only to point out that the reason we love sports—and Vince Staples, really—is for their ability to produce memorable moments. And on Thursday, the Sparks and Vince Staples did just that with a stirring Game 5 and a series of tweets that showed how sports touches us all, even the so-called hardened rappers.