Rap & Baseball: An Absurdly Detailed Investigation
Rap and sports have always been strange bedfellows. Sometimes it's a simple as a New Era fitted, and sometimes it's a rapper rooting for every winning team ever in the history if sports (cough cough Drake cough cough); hell some rappers want to be pro athletes and, likewise, some pro-athletes want to be rappers (looking at you Jason Kidd). Still, for how obsessed rappers are with sports, it seems like nobody is interested in baseball. Well, at least they weren't until 50 Cent's first pitch.
Go home 50 Cent, you're drunk. Where was he aiming? Anyhow, before 50, the baseball rap world looked a little like this but now everyone and their mother is talking about it. Hell, I'm pretty sure ESPN is gonna do a 30 for 30 on it titled "Get Pitch or Die Trying". Really, this is the first time since certain rapper from St. Louis (who we will get to later) made a baseball themed video that baseball and hip-hop have been uttered in the same breath (fitted hats don't count)? Really? I could list you a thousand bars about basketball, football, hell, even soccer, but when it comes to baseball, the list is much shorter. So much shorter in fact, that it is the perfect length for an "Absurd Investigation". It's time to investigate hip-hop and baseball.
Where to begin? Well, since this was all the result of a first pitch, why not start there? After that performance, 50 Cent might be the latest rapper to throw out a first pitch, but he certainly wasn't the first. For example, did you know Snoop once threw out the first pitch at a White Sox game? Good thing he didn't have to pass a drug test; he would fail more than Ryan Braun.
Granted, he wasn't pitching from the mound, but it was a nice toss either way. Bonus points for Tebowing and successfully linking rap, baseball, and football at the same time. My only question is why is he doing this in Chicago? Doesn't he know that's Common's turf?
Common isn't the only rapper to throw some heat in his hometown. Big "Parsley" Sean did in Detroit. Although I'm surprised he didn't have Kanye do all the work only to relay the throw for the last ten feet.
My lord, his form is just awful; about as sloppy and awkward as his raps. Now, for the rap fan who wants to see everything, here's Lil Jon throwing out the first pitch.
Not bad, but none have been overwhelming. Maybe Nelly, who actually has some baseball expeirence can bring us home real proper like....
Maybe not. Hey, I'm just impressed Nelly knew what a pitch out was. Well I guess I shouldn't be surprised; of all the rappers ever Nelly is the greatest...at baseball stuff. He actually has some real baseball experience. Check out what he said in this ESPN interview.
What's the real Nelly highlight on the athletic field.
I won an MVP trophy with the St. Louis Amateur Baseball Association. I didn't even start. I was a sub on this team. This was like an All-Star game where we had athletes from different teams, different mixtures. We had like the only black team in the league, basically. We had four players go to the All-Star game. We were losing 5-1 in the seventh inning and the coach subbed us in, and we managed to come back and win. I wound up getting the MVP for that, so I was real happy.
You almost played professional baseball. Ever think about giving it another shot?
I went to a lot of different camps and stuff like that. Every team brings a camp or two to your city every year. A lot of times they send letters out to people they want to monitor.
Nelly having real baseball experience is all well and good, but what really makes him the penultimate baseball rapper is the legendary batter up video.
Boy, that bandana bat is a nice touch. Louisville Slugger should look into making those. You know, for as baseball themed as that video is, there really aren't that many baseball related lines. If my rap is going to be baseballed out, I need it to go the whole nine
Not bad, but the unequivocal winner of the baseball themed song is Main Source with "Just A Friendly Game Of Baseball.
Honorable mention goes to Easy-E. "Sorry Louie" isn't exactly baseball themed, but it involves Easy smashing someones head in with a Louisville Slugger so how could I not include it?
So, baseball themed songs are rare, but what about plain old baseball references. Those have to be more common right? Let's take a look at some of the best.
"I used to run base like Juan Pierre"- Jay-Z
My personal all time favorite. No idea why, it's just always stuck with me. Jay-Z ain't done either...
"I father, I Brooklyn Dodger them/I jack, I rob, I sin/Amen, I’m Jackie Robinson/‘Cept when I run base, I dodge the pen"
"Scott Boras, you over baby/Robinson Cano, you coming with me"
I guess technically Jay wins hip-hop baseball's crown by default; Cano got signed to that bazillion dollar contract thanks to sports agent Hov.
While Jay has a few, the best New York baseball rapper is far and away, Action Bronson. His baseball game is on another level.
"Cash we slidin' in, they always call me safe kid, Lou Brock"
"My look is Jay Buhner/Dawggie cause some of us just age sooner"
"I stay in Flushing like I’m Dillon Gee"
Not sure if it really says my name but sounds like it. That's close enough in my book!! @ActionBronson— Dillon Gee (@DillonGee35) November 1, 2013
"Fast forward ‘98, Mark McGuire shirt"
"The work flipped like Ozzie Smith"
"Suck my motherfucking dick, it’s the young Randy Velarde. Queens, baby"
His best however, fits two famous Yanks in one...
"Flicks with Mickey on the mantle/Flicks with Yogi Berra lifted in some sandals"
Clearly, AB is a Snoop fan, following in his footsteps of dropping two baseball player names in one with some baseball terminology as a kicker.
"I throw strikes like Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens/Pitch a shut-out, the whole 9 innings"
Who knew, Action Bronson was such a baseball guy? Not something I would have expected. Wale, on the other hand, loves sports. Especially the Nationals, which, as a DC native, is just fine with me.
"Attire proper, Bryce Harper though slightly darker"
"Throw around game, Strasburg pitching"
He may be a Nats fan, hanging with Bryce and whatnot, but he's not so stuck in his Natitude that he can't make a much needed Hideo Nomo reference
"Got so many hoes, I can dodge her like Nomo"
Hell, he even has a racist baseball reference.
"Eyes lower than Ichiro"
Wale may have the most racist, but the most obvious reference award goes to Kanye...
"Now here's another hit, Barry Bonds"
We can't end on something that lame can we? Nope. I'll let J Cole rap things up with one of the more creative lines; it sounds better than it reads.
"And all these Jose Canseco's wanna text-us like Waco"
When I started this, I really wasn't expecting much, but these are only a few of the many baseball lines. Still, I feel like there is a disconnect between baseball and rap, especially when you think about how NBA-obsessed rappers are. There may be countless Yankee lines, horrible first pitches, fitted caps from teams those rappers don't even root for, and of course backwards baseball jerseys (god bless Kriss Kross), but there just isn't that spark between the two. Like has any rapper ever sampled "Take Me Out To The Ball Game"? Why didn't we see Drake celebrating with the Red Sox? Where are all the rapper baseball celebrity games? Where are the rapper's wearing cleats? More importantly where are all the baseball players trying to rap? So many questions so little time.
I'm pretty exhausted, feel like I just played nine innings. I'm sure I missed a few billion lines so feel free to chime in with any baseball/rap related crap you can find. Take us out Weezy!
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is "College Dropout", but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @Lgarrison88.]