Friday, February 17, 2012

Rapping Up: Football and Hip-Hop

[Editor's Note:  Today, Naptime Huddle features a post by my friend and fellow blogger, Gary Hailey.]

Like Kerri, I'm the creator of a wildly popular blog -- 2 or 3 Lines (and So Much More), which you can find at  I'm always trying to find guest writers who will contribute to my blog -- hey, what's not to like about free content? -- so how could I turn Kerri down when she asked me to contribute a post to Naptime Huddle?

The primary focus of Naptime Huddle, of course, is football.  But it's also widely known for its recipes.  I'm going to share a recipe with you a little later, but let's "tackle" (tee-hee!) our main topic first: football and rap music.   

Country-western music seems to be the preferred genre of football fans -- Faith Hill does the NBC Sunday Night Football theme song, a Big & Rich track is featured on ESPN's College Gameday, and Monday Night Football kicked off for years with a Hank Williams Jr., song.  (Last fall, ESPN dropped the Williams song after Hank Jr. referred to Hitler while talking about President Obama and House Speaker Boehner playing golf together.)

Basketball is the sport that associated most with rap, but there are a lot of football references in hip-hop songs.

Lil Wayne, one of the greatest hip-hop artists of our era, got a lot of attention with his song "Green and Yellow," which was released just before last year's Packers-Steelers Super Bowl.  "Green and Yellow" is a spoof of Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa's huge hit, "Black and Yellow," which pays tribute to the sports teams of his hometown.  (Black and gold are the colors of the Steelers, the Pirates, and the Penguins, which was a pretty smart thing to do.)

Lil Wayne at Super Bowl XLV

Lil Wayne is a New Orleans native, but is proud to be a cheesehead:

Yeah, uh-huh, you know what it is
I'm a cheesehead, y'all n*ggas Cheez Whiz
Pittsburgh Steelers, that's nothin'
That Super Bowl ring, that's stuntin'

Next Weezy takes on the beloved Steeler "Terrible Towel" -- a rally towel created in 1975 by the late Myron Cope, who was the radio voice of the Steelers for 35 years

This is Green Bay -- b*tch, we go hard
This is Packer Country, where's your green card?
Terrible towels, that sh*t's borin'
We got the ball, you know we scorin'

The "Terrible Towel"

In the next verse, Lil Wayne disses Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and defensive back Ike Taylor, while praising Green Bay's long-haired linebacker, Clay Matthews:

Got a call from my homie, this just in
The Packers in the Super Bowl and they better win
They call him Big Ben, but he weak though
We in Dallas, but we Lambeau Leap, ho
Long hair, don't care, Clay Matthews
We sh*ttin' on these fools, no bathroom
Yeah, got a pocket full of big faces
Throw it up, touchdown on Ike Taylor

[Note: Super Bowl XLV was played in Dallas.  "Big faces" refers to paper money, which Lil Wayne freely throws up in the air when he "makes it rain" at a strip club -- he suggests that the Packers simply throw the ball up against Ike Taylor and make it rain Packer touchdowns.]

Lil Wayne continues to hammer on the Steelers in the last verse of "Green and Yellow," even belittling their famous "Steel Curtain" front four, which helped Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls in six seasons in the late 1970s.  He plans to smoke a big cigar, but his cigar will be filled with "Amsterdam" -- a euphemism for marijuana.  

Big Gs on the helmet
Steel Curtain? What is that, velvet?
And if we win, I'ma throw a Super Bowl party
And blow a cigar like Vince Lombardi
I'm in Wisconsin, smoking Amsterdam
Yeah I'm from New Orleans, but I been a Packers fan
We knocked the Eagles and the Falcons and the Bears off
Now we 'bout to cut Troy Polamalu's hair off

Here's "Green and Yellow":

No one team appears to be the clear favorite of the hip-hop community -- a lot of NFL teams have rappers as loyal fans.  For example, Ice Cube is a Raiders loyalist, while Brooklyn native Jay-Z roots for the Jets and Snoop Dogg (a Los Angeles native) is a Steelers fan.  

But rappers do appear to have a favorite NFL player -- Randy Moss, a phenomenally talented but badly behaved wide receiver who retired from the NFL before the 2011 season.  (Since no NFL team wanted to touch him with a ten-foot pole at that point in his career, it was a good time to retire.)  

When I searched the indispensable hip-hop website, Rap Genius, for "Randy Moss" references, I got 23 hits.  By contrast, "Chad Ochocinco" generated only three hits.  (Surprisingly, Tim Tebow is mentioned in a lot of hip-hop songs, although many of those references go back to his college days at the University of Florida.)

My personal favorite Randy Moss rap song is Outkast's Grammy-winning "The Whole World" (2002).  These lines are from the verse contributed by Outkast collaborator, Killer Mike, who compares his ability to catch a musical beat to Randy Moss's ability to catch a football without breaking stride:

Glitter, glisten, gloss, floss
I catch a beat running like Randy Moss

Here's the official video for "The Whole World," which is a very catchy little tune:

Veteran rapper Masta Ace contributed a very clever and football-filled verse to the 2009 song, "Ei8ht is Enuff":

When it's time to get wild on the stage
I can spit eights like Lynn Swann, Alan Page,
Or maybe Randy Moss is his college days
When he was goin' through that childish phase

Masta Ace can certainly "spit eights" (i.e., he has a gift for rapping in eight-measure or eight-line verses).  But what is the significance of his mentioning NFL stars Lynn Swann (the Hall of Fame wide receiver for the Steelers who ran for governor in Pennsylvania in 2006 but lost), Alan Page (a Hall of Fame defensive lineman for the Vikings who is now an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court), and Randy Moss (who should be in the Hall of Fame someday, but whose checkered legal history and infamous pseudo-"mooning" of the crowd in a 2005 NFL playoff game will probably prevent him from pursuing a career in politics or on the bench)?  

It's really quite simple.  All three wore "eights" as football players.  Swann and Page both wore jersey number 88 in the NFL, while Moss wore number 88 when he played college football at Marshall University.

Randy Moss pretends to moon Green Bay fans

Here's a video of Masta Ace (in the Yankee hat -- probably a Giants fan) and his collaborator Ed O.G. (in the Red Sox cap -- meaning he likely roots for the Patriots) doing "Ei8ht Is Enuff":

But the ultimate football-related rap song is "Queen's Gambit" (2005) by the rapper GZA, who was one of the founders of the legendary hip-hop collective, the Wu-Tang Clan.

"Queen's Gambit" refers to 31 of the 32 current NFL football teams.  Here it is:

Here are the lyrics to "Queen's Gambit," which should help you figure out which NFL team is not mentioned:

She dated jolly green giants that flew on jets
An A-list actress, who was never walked off sets
She loved stuffed animals, especially bears
Was a role model, like a cardinal to our peers
A patriotic tomboy, like Mary Ellen from The Waltons
A former lifeguard, who had the skills of a dolphin
When I met her, she was in drama school and wore bengals
Drove a Bronco, and she was far from star-spangled
Had basic skills, and worked part time in mills
Raised buffalos, cause she was behind them bills
Had a man who always roared like lion
A domestic violent cat, tackled the girl and kept her crying
Couldn't care, she was losing her hair, from depression
She was in the air, and there was some room for interceptions
I told her to stay strong, not to be ashamed
You're a ten, I see, you just need to titan your game
Her ancestors were chiefs, who ran with running deer
On the sail with the seahawks, who battled the buccaneers
The redskin garments was suede coatliners
Held rare coins frequently sought from gold miners
They were hard-working warriors, we call overtimers
Shot plenty arrows at cowboys and 49ers
Her interesting background but quite unusual
Great for a script but out of bounds for a musical
She told me to call her if I came to town
I started textin' her soon as my plane had touchdown
Holding my luggage in the hand that revealed the bad scars
She pulled up at arrivals, driving the Jaguar
Her brown skin was soft, her legs beautifully shaven
Her house was fly, sitting on the roof was a raven
As we entered, I heard laughter
She walked into a large living room, I went after her
There was two of her girlfriends playing chess like they were Vikings
Militant as panthers, their resemblance was striking
Had on thongs, high heels, and belts that was garter
Energized like phones that just came off the charger
I introduced myself to gain yardage
'Cause anything less than smooth would have been straight-up garbage
The shorter one met me when I had a SkyPager
Thought I rolled with robbers, stealers and panty raiders
She took fruit from the orange bowl, it was in season
One of them said she loved the juice and kept squeezing
I knew that I was gonna get wined and dined
It would have been a penalty not to pass the scrimmage line
Now I laid back and relaxed, waiting for the kick-off
One removed the lip gloss like she was bout to lick all
She caressed me with fingertips soft as velvet
Dying for me to pack her as she stroked my helmet
And I was thinking these girls was saints
But it was first and ten, and there was extra walls to paint
Before you know it, I had all three in a huddle
Buckin' like a colt before I released them puddles
They spread eagles like wide receivers
As I ram them in the endzone, and they became true believers!

Hmmm . . . I don't think "Queen's Gambit" will end up as the Monday Night Football theme song.

Enough about music -- I'm hungry.  I hope you enjoy my recipe for "2 or 3 Lines Gazpacho," which will be featured on Naptime Huddle soon.

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