In hip-hop, the odds prove to be even tougher historically. If you’re a true hip-hop head, maybe you can name Terminology or Benzino, but the average listener wouldn’t even know one Boston-bred rapper in the game.
The two industries are synonymous in culture as both have similar barriers making it extremely difficult for anyone trying to break in. That’s what has allowed Iowa State sophomore stud Georges Niang and Boston rapper Moufy to form such a tight bond as the two Boston kids attempt to make it to the highest level in their respective industries.
After living in the shadows of NBA lottery pick Nerlens Noel and Kansas Star Wayne Selden at Tilton Academy (NH), Niang burst onto the national scene during the 2012-2013 season at Iowa State, recording 12.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game on his way to Big 12 Rookie of the Year. The 6-7 forward then gave fans an indication this season that the best is yet to come, as the Cyclones’ jack-of-all-trades posted averages of 16.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while leading ISU to a Big 12 Tournament championship this season before suffering a broken foot during the round-of-32 in March.
Moufy, on the other hand, has created a following of his own in New England’s hip-hop game. An underdog himself, Moufy has used his ‘organic’ Bostonian flow to rub shoulders with guys like Kendrick Lamar, Kid Ink and YG. After dropping his EP New England Knight last month, Moufy, similar to Georges, looks to take his game to the next level and put Boston on his back.
I caught up with two of Boston’s own to talk about their underdog mentalities, which NBA star coach Fred Hoiberg has suggested Niang emulate his game after, bouncing back from adversity and making it to the big stage.
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Dime: So you guys attended prep school together at Tilton Academy (NH). How did you develop the bond that you still share today?
Georges Niang: I think it was just the mutual respect that we have for each other. I played basketball and he recorded music. Obviously there are a lot of people who say “I can really rap” or whatever and he just influenced me to follow his music and it was a friendship built from there. I think it was the start of a new beginning, with him following me in basketball and him following his dream, I think it’s just two kids following their dreams to become the best that they can be.
Moufy: I’d definitely echo that. We got motivated off of each other, you know? Even though we’re from different industries, there’s still sort of the same stigmatism and they’re definitely similar industries where not everyone makes it, you know? A lot of it has to do with luck and a lot has to do with really being chosen and really being one of the few so we resonated on those terms. It’s not easy to be a D-I ballplayer and make it to the NBA and it’s not easy to be a hip-hop artist and make it in the industry so that fueled both of us.
GN: Going off that, I think that both me and Mouf never were really given anything–we were sort of like hidden gems. When we finally made the public scene and blew up, people were a little surprised because with Moufy coming from Boston, he didn’t have much. Me, I didn’t have as much publicity as Nerlens (Noel) and all them and (now) we’re going out and putting on a good show.
Dime: What factors make it so easy for you guys to relate to each other’s journeys?
GN: I just think that we’re outgoing personable people. Moufy’s a well-spoken dude and I’ve learned a lot from him. Being able to handle certain situations because he was always older than me and sort of looked down on me as a little brother and was always looking out on who I should keep in my circle and who’s good for me and who’s not. If I ever had any problems, I could go to him and he’d give me the best advice because he’s always been older than me and been through a lot of experiences with him up and coming as a rapper and in high school he was big time. Whenever I needed to worry about who I should keep around or how to handle certain situations or interviews, I could always lean on him because he’s been there before and he’s a superstar in his own.
Moufy: It just goes back to that notion that we sort of learned from each other’s journeys. When we were in high school, it was a boarding school so we spent a lot of time with each other, you know? Me and the basketball team and Georges spent a lot of time with each other because at the end of the day, everybody has their critics in whatever industry you’re in and like Georges said, media wise [he didn’t get the attention]. Internally, we always knew Georges was as good as Wayne (Selden) and was as good as Nerlens, was as good as a lot of the guys that were highly touted in the media. He was the leading scorer (at Tilton). He was scoring 27, 28 points a game no questions asked, but when the media came around, they would sort of direct the light towards Nerlens and Wayne and a couple of those guys so Georges and me always had that underdog mentality. Like, how often does a rapper make it out of Boston? So in my mind, it was always me against the world and I know Georges felt the same way so me and Georges really connected on that level.
Georges went to Iowa State and proved that he’s one of the best players in America, not even one of the best freshman, “I’m one of the best players period.” I think a lot of that came from that underdog mindset, that Bostonian (attitude) of us against the world. That “I’m going to make it happen” type of mindset. I think that we garnered that through our experiences and that started in high school.
I remember I was at every single home game and sometimes traveled with the team and the same shit he’s been doing to those guys at Iowa State, he was doing in high school, even to Nerlens. When they’d practice against each other, he’d put a move on Nerlens, mind you this is a lottery pick defender, but still Georges was still giving it to him. Him and Nerlens would go back and forth so I always knew what the world recently found out this last year about Georges. If you asked Wayne, if you asked Nerlens, Goodluck (Okonoboh), you ask the head coach at Tilton (Marcus O’Neil), they’re not surprised on what Georges did this past year. The world is because he didn’t get the media coverage that he should have [in high school] but I’m not surprised that he went to Iowa State and was the No. 1 freshman in the conference because we saw this coming [and it’s that] underdog mentality that garnered us. And I look at it and think it’s really, really benefitted George this last year.