GQ Magazine once referred to Stuart Scott as “the man who put the hip-hop in sportscasting.” In an interview with XXL, Scott spoke on how he grew up listening to rappers like Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J, and how he fuses hip-hop into everyday broadcasting. “I like infusing [hip-hop] into what I do, because it’s part of who I am. Sportscasters’ll drop a line and I’ll be like, ‘I hope you listen to that. I hope you’re not just doing it just to be hot.’ You’ve got to be true to who you are and what you do. I’m more of a hip-hop feel person. Music is how you feel. The younger the mind, that’s how I wanna be.” Perhaps rap music gives Scott youthful inspiration as he continues to fight his battle with cancer.
Apparently, Doug Collins keeps a Birdman song or two on his iPod. During this year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Collins was quick to follow up Jalen Rose’s bird call with some old school Baby lyrics. Watch below.
Skip Bayless has an opinion for just about everything. Call him the Charlamagne of sports journalism. Though a huge fan of both Nelly and Lil Wayne, the current co-host of ESPN’s First Take believes Eminem is “very underrated,” and thinks Jay Z is “overrated”. Watch Skip rant about hip-hop in the clips below.
Whether its on air or on Twitter, ESPN analyst Bomani Jones has no problem arguing about hip-hop. A couple years ago he claimed that Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a top 5 rap album of all time. On his personal website, Jones has constructed lists such as 25 Essential Southern Rap Albums and his personal Top 10 Southern Emcees, in which he ranked Scarface as #1.
During his FaceTime victory speech on an episode of Around The Horn, ESPN analyst J.A. Adande quoted the G.O.A.T, bragging “I crash this verse and I swag ‘n surf”. Enough said.
A devout christian, ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard is a big fan of Christian rap. In an interview with Rapzilla.com, Broussard described how he began writing rhymes at the age of nine, as well as performing rap songs on his college campus. He believes Christian rap is in a good position today, because it doesn’t sound as corny as it once was. Watch the full interview below.
Out of all the SportsCenter anchors, John “Bucci Mane” Buccigross has got to be the most in touch with rap’s current trends. His knowledge of hip-hop is practically greater than his knowledge of sports, and he has proved this on numerous occasions. Bucci’s hip-hop references are always outrageous, but they never fail to be accurate. Earlier this year, Buccigross said "What Migos is to Southern hip-hop, Kevin Durant is to the Thunder" (source: Complex). He definitely isn’t wrong.
ESPN NBA analyst George Karl knows a thing or two about hip-hop. Earlier this year, the former Nuggets coach listed Gucci Mane as his #1 favorite rapper, ahead of both 2Pac and Jay Z. It’s hard to disagree.
Stan Verrett believes hip-hop and sports broadcasting are two of the same. A fellow Lilweezyana native, he’s tight with Lil Wayne. Weezy actually shouted out Verrett on the Dedication 5 outro. “I look at the wordplay of a Kanye West, of Lil Wayne especially, the concepts they’re able to convey. Essentially, we’re all in the same field of communications.” Verrett said in an interview with allhiphop.com. “We’re all in the same business. We’re communicating ideas, using our words in a clever manner. The best MCs are able to convey ideas in a clever way. You want to get a rise out of the crowd; make them say, “WHOA!” That’s the same way with us. Whether it’s a catchphrase or how you flow through highlights, we’re trying to bring a reaction out of our audience. ” Later in the interview, Verrett went on to say that his ideal rap tour would consist of Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Public Enemy, and Slick Rick.
“We ball nigga, like Jalen Rose” - Lil Wayne
ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose is a fan of lyrical hip-hop, notably J. Cole. "I like J. Cole, I like the fact that he's a lyricist, plus he seems to be socially and politically conscious, and what people underestimate is that he's a college graduate also" Rose told BET.com. He also went on to compare himself to Lupe Fiasco, saying “[Lupe] and I are a lot alike in that sometimes we say what everybody else is thinking, but sometimes we say it in the wrong place on the wrong day."
Stephen A Smith
Stephen A Smith, ESPN NBA analyst and co-host of First Take, has mixed views of hip-hop. In an interview with BET.com, Stephen A stated "I look at the hip-hop industry and for me it's a double-edged sword. On one hand I'm incredibly proud of the hip-hop artists that have found a way to make it. It's legal, it's legit, it's something that has been monetized successfully, it's a multi-billion dollar industry and I love that. The flip side to it is that, first of all, some of the lyrics are beyond misogynistic, homophobic and all of that stuff. That's a problem.” Aside from this, Stephen A has the utmost respect for Jay Z. “I think Jay Z is one of the greatest American stories in our nation’s history. In terms of his success, what he went through, to get to where he is and more importantly what he has become.” Watch the full First Take clip below.
Urban entertainment at its finest.
Hip-hop and professional sports are more similar than you might think. Both fields are competitive, exciting, and allow for great debates. Rappers are often seen interacting with world class athletes, such as Lil Wayne hanging out with Cristiano Ronaldo, 50 Cent breaking bread with Floyd “Money” Mayweather, or Drake taking pictures with whoever won that evening. Either way, sports and hip-hop have always been intertwined.
In hip-hop, it’s not only about the artist. As any hip-hop head knows, DJs play an essential role in the culture. The presence, or lack thereof, of a DJ can often make or break a potential hit record. Whether hosting a live event or promoting a project on social media, getting the audience involved and excited is always critical. Likewise in sportscasting, it’s important to break the news in intriguing, clever ways. ESPN’s SportsCenter anchors do this extremely well, all while incorporating crafty hip-hop references in their everyday sets. Urban entertainment at its finest.
Hop through the list to discover eleven ESPN anchors and analysts who love hip-hop. You’ll be surprised at how rap-savvy most of these broadcasters are. Some, like Bomani Jones, may take the genre more seriously than others, but they all share a passion for the music. Duh-nuh-NUH, duh-nuh-NUH!