Anytime comparisons are made – especially involving music and sports – the risk is exceptionally high to strike out in embarrassing fashion. But with today being Thanksgiving Eve and tomorrow serving as one of the few days where being near a computer ranks as the last of my worries, why not give it a try.
Starlito is the AJ McCarron of Hip-Hop. Or maybe AJ McCarron is the Starlito of college football. Either way, stemming past much further than their Bible Belt roots, both MC and quarterback appear more than comfortable operating under the veil of subjective anonymity. Their production links them near the pinnacle of their respective crafts. Yet, it’s almost as if their accomplishments fall on deaf ears or blind eyes.
For McCarron, he lacks the trillion dollar watt smile and overall Greek-god physique of Cam Newton. He’s never been as polarizing as Tim Tebow. Or blessed with the explosiveness of Robert Griffin III. Or trademarked by an outright boisterous and renegade style of play of Johnny Manziel. McCarron’s just…him. The “most underrated player in college football,” according Nick Saban.
A kid so quiet it’s almost difficult to imagine him possibly three games away from becoming the only college quarterback in history with a trio of national championships. He’s more than “Alex Smith with a class schedule.” His 69 touchdowns (and only 13 interceptions) since becoming the full-time starter in 2011 prove such. As does having the 12th best passer efficiency rating in NCAA history (fourth in the SEC). As does a 36-2 win/loss record since 2011. Or being only 601 yards away from becoming the first signal caller in ‘Bama history to eclipse 3,000 yards in a season. Hell, he’s more known for his Auburn alum and model girlfriend, Katherine Webb, and his “quickly-catapulting-up-the-celebrity-cougar-list” mother, Dee Dee Bonner.
McCarron’s reticent dominance with the Crimson Tide nearly rivals that of his head coach’s. Saban’s the mastermind, but AJ’s entrusted with the keys to a multi-million dollar program expected to perform like a well-oiled tank crushing dreams and destroying college campuses week in and week out. He was the one leading the Crimson Tide down three against Georgia in the 2012 SEC Championship, saving their season with a deep strike to Amari Cooper. He was the offensive MVP in the 2012 national title game versus LSU, a bounce back performance stemming from a subpar showing versus LSU earlier in the same season. He’s, as Sports Illustrated coined it, “royalty in Tuscaloosa, but underrated everywhere else.” But by in-large, very little of this is heralded, partially because McCarron could likely give a damn to make a case to.*
Much like Starlito.
The fight for acclaim and attention in rap is a lot like popularity in high school. Whomever says the most outlandish statements, dresses unique enough or speaks the loudest often has control of the cafeteria. For ‘Lito, a veteran all before the age of 30, he’s the student getting high in his car between classes.
Since 2011, ‘Lito’s rampage of projects include Ultimate Warrior, Step Brothers, Post Traumatic Stress, Mental WARfare, Cold Turkey, Funerals & Court Dates, Step Brothers 2, Fried Turkey and two Hip-Hop musicals for good measure. And for shits and giggles, the last four aforementioned projects dropped this year alone.
Where Kanye’s eccentric personality garners headlines, or Drake’s ability to put himself on front street for the betterment of his music or even Kendrick Lamar hailed as the next legendary American rap talent, ‘Lito continues to serve as a potluck of the same characteristics and vulnerabilities the three “A-list” names have gone on to certify as their calling cards.
There’s no debate whether fans of the Tennessee Volunteer have grown with him and his music. His long-standing industry issues, the drama with the women in his life (fake friends, too) and a never-ending battle with alcoholism and substance abuse have not only fostered a devoted following, but more like sponsors willing to vouch for his credibility.
Through it all, a certain “business as usual” aura surrounds McCarron and ‘Lito. McCarron squares off in perhaps Alabama’s most anticipated game since September’s heavyweight clash with Johnny Football, Mike Evans and Texas A&M. On the line in Saturday’s Iron Bowl is a SEC title birth, moving one step closer to Pasadena for college football’s biggest stage, legit Heisman consideration and once again another opportunity to stake claim as one of country’s premiere quarterbacks. Ever. Meanwhile, Star’s new batch of country cooking, Fried Turkey, arrives while paint on Step Brothers 2 is still wet and features Yo Gotti, Kevin Gates, Young Dolph, Robin Raynelle and more.
Thanksgiving week is an important juncture in the dedication to millions of diets across America, but also in the careers of AJ McCarron and Starlito. Whether the masses ever truly appreciate and take the time to realize, however, is beyond their control. And truth be told, maybe such a logic is preferred that way, too. It’s not like their hustle ever slowed down before.
* – I had to get my “Hey, you should pay attention to AJ McCarron/Starlito” piece out there before “Hey, you should pay attention to AJ McCarron/Starlito” pieces subsequently made them overrated. We’re all self conscious. I’m just the first to admit it.