Hip-hop has been the symbolic sound of basketball for the vast majority of the sport’s existence. A great deal of hip-hop culture involves basketball. From the courts in inner cities to the pre-game shootarounds in college basketball, to locker rooms in the NBA, there is no doubt hip-hop will be played. Artists rap about basketball in their lyrics, and basketball players vibe to hip-hop during their workouts, basketball activities or free time. This is no different for the players of the men’s basketball team at Montclair State University.
“Our team listens to a lot of hip-hop and R&B before games and during workouts because that’s generally what everyone likes,” freshman forward Justin Porter said. “The songs have messages and things within them that we can all relate to.”
Through the uprise of hip-hop, as well as the combination of hip-hop and R&B, they became entwined. Rappers could include R&B artists in the hooks of their songs, while rappers could lay a verse or two in a singer’s song.
“It just hypes us up and gives us energy and motivation to go out and do what we do,” Porter said.
One thing about the genre is that players can always count on hip-hop to get them hyped. Before games or during workouts, players want to feel focused, energized and spirited to perform at the highest level.
“Personally, I can listen to just about anything music-wise, but when it comes to pre-game or working out, I always listen to Meek Mill or A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie,” junior forward Jovanni Chatham said.
Meek Mill has produced a variety of popular energetic hits throughout his career, ranging from “I’m a Boss” to “Dreams and Nightmares” to a successful collection of mixtapes with the Dreamchasers franchise.
Mood definitely plays a role in the selection of music and artists. Players can choose from a modern, loud upbeat song, or sit back and take in some throwback lyricism.
“It varies for what I’m in the mood for that day,” Chatham said. “Sometimes it could be old school. I may listen to Biggie or Tupac or even 50 Cent.”
The key trend around the team and athletes in general is the factor of motivation. Music is there for players when they may not be there for themselves. If their confidence level is down, music can lift them up.
“Prior to games and during workouts, anything that would motivate me to do better can range from listening to motivational speeches by Eric Thomas or listening to rap and hip-hop songs that would encourage me to go harder,” senior guard Daniel Ramis said.
Thomas is a renowned inspirational speaker, who also uses hip-hop as a platform to get his message across. LeBron James even credits Thomas as a major source of inspiration when he won his first NBA championship in 2012.
“When I do listen to rap and hip-hop, its mostly Future, Kodak Black, Drake, and Tory Lanez,” Ramis said.
Drake burst in to the basketball scene, most notably with his hometown team the Toronto Raptors. In 2013, Drake was introduced as the Raptors’ global ambassador, a position that would allow him to extend the brand of the Raptors. He became active in the design of an alternative Raptors Jersey and was one of the main figures in the planning and advertisement of the 2016 NBA All Star Weekend.
Whether it’s the new Migos album or a classic Nas album like, Illmatic, hip-hop speaks to the majority of basketball players in ways that other genres can’t. As long as the game lives, hip-hop will continue living with it.