If you haven't checked out keeerrrttt's fantastic blast from the past FanShot, take a minute and do it now. Now, this isn't the first instance of an athlete rapping, and it definitely isn't the last instance of an athlete rapping. An athlete has not, and will never, release a good rap video or, god forbid, a whole album. The best case scenario is this video: it's silly, it doesn't take itself seriously, and it'll be dated almost before it is finished filming. The worst case scenario is this:
We all know it isn't going to work. It's been done a hundred times before, and it's never been done well. So why do we still see athletes trying their hand in the hip-hop game? The answer, after the jump.
Fact #1: Everyone thinks they are a better rapper than they actually are. I've had too many beers and rapped before. I've done it in a bar. In front of people. It wasn't good; in fact, it was awful. But in that moment, I felt like I could actually rap. So are guys like Shaq, Allen Iverson, or Terrell Owens just drunk all the time? Well, maybe T.O's drunk all the time, but that can't be the case for everybody. It has more to do with my next point.
Fact #2: Athletes are surrounded by a bunch of Yes men. Athletes, at least the ones making rap records, are generally surrounded by the same group of people.
- an agent - an agent's job is to make his clients money and gain them exposure, and in turn make themselves money. It doesn't matter to them if it's embarrassing, or isn't good music (which is isn't).
- an entourage - an athlete's entourage is made up of 3-8 guys, usually the athlete's hometown buddies he brought with them to the big time. They get paid to answer phones, drive the SUV, and stroke the ego of their meal ticket. If I had the money to pay guys to make me feel important, I'd do it. As a matter of fact, if someone paid me to make them feel important, I'd do it. Aw yeah, that last Quack Fix was KILLIN' Mr. Light! You da man!
- their mom - moms just need an excuse to brag to their friends about their little boy. And any musician will tell you, if your mom hears you play, they won't hear you make a single mistake.
- numerous random wanna-be entrepreneurs with numerous wanna-be business ventures. One of these guys will be a hip-hop producer, who plants the seed that our athlete could be the next Jay-Z. Once that seed is planted, the Yes men take over, growing that ridiculous notion into a full-fledged genius idea. Which brings me to my final point...
Fact #3: Hip-Hop producers are slimy, money-grubbing snakes who only care about their own interests, and couldn't give two shits about whether their music is good or not. Long gone are the days of Afrika Bambaataa taking inspiration from German electro-pop and re-imagining it in "Planet Rock", as are the days of Dr. Dre carefully taking brief moments from a half-dozen different 70s funk classics to lay down the beat for "Let Me Ride". Now, it's simply a matter of taking whatever YouTube video just went viral and remixing it (I'm looking at you, Numa Numa song). Hip-hop producers know that there are two main factors which lead to an album selling: industry buzz and name recognition. Athletes already possess both of those qualities. And producers know that an athlete-rapper crossover venture can be profitable because they don't have to spend any time making it good. They don't have to give them any of their best tracks, because the Yes men are there to say that it slaps no matter what. All they need to do is get their athlete in a studio for a couple hours to lay down hastily-written verses, and spend a day sprucing it up in post-production. And the beauty part is, the athlete will probably never figure out that he's the punchline of this elaborate joke to make a bunch of music executives a few thousand dollars, because no one will tell him to his face that his music sucks. So, in essence, the answer to my question is this: athletes keep trying to rap because in the end, everybody wins. Everybody except anyone who listens to, or pays for, a musical catastrophe.