Culture of Hoops

NBA Hip Hop Lyric of the Week: Kurtis Blow “Basketball”

Image courtesy of Pavel Medzyun/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Pavel Medzyun/Flickr.

Basketball is my favorite sport
I like the way they dribble up and down the court
Just like I’m the king on the microphone so is Dr. J and Moses Malone
I like slam dunks take me to the hoop
My favorite play is the ally-oop
I like the pick-and-roll, I like the give-and-go,
‘Cause it’s basketball, with Mr. Kurtis Blow

Basketball” by the mega rap star Kurtis Blow was a song that perfectly fused basketball and hip-hop. It’s been said that rappers gravitate to ball players and ball players gravitate to rappers. The crossroads of basketball and hip-hop are frequently traveled, specifically when the two are merged in verse. But imagine if an entire rap song is dedicated to the sport.

In 1984 the popularity of the NBA and hip-hop were paralleled. Kurtis Blow gave a National Basketball Association history lesson in each verse in the song. And he wasn’t just name dropping, even though over 20 Hall of Fame players are mentioned in the song: Dr. J (Julius Erving), Moses Malone, Tiny (Archibald), Earl the Pearl (Monroe), Wilt (Chamberlain), Big O (Oscar Robertson), Jerry West, Magic (Johnson), (Larry) Bird, Bernard King, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Clyde (Frazier), Rick Barry, Pistol Pete (Maravich), Isiah (Thomas), Iceman (Gervin), Adrian Dantley, Dominique Wilkins, Ralph Sampson, Bill Russell, and Willis Reed.

Kurtis Blow also accurately mentioned league historical events such as Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in a game, the Celtics winning back-to-back titles, and Darryl Dawkins getting a monster dunk. (Dawkins shattering two backboards is the direct reason for the snap-back rims.)

True to the nature of real pick-up ball, he even used street ball trash talking during the bridge of the song. “D-up sucka’, you can’t check me, in yo’ face—swish.”

“Basketball” is a classic hip-hop song performed by one of rap’s pioneers, and currently is in rotation throughout NBA arenas. For all the homage being paid to the sport of basketball in the form of rap lyrics, “Basketball” by far is the ultimate. No other dedication to the game comes close.

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