Grab The Mic: Comparing NBA Draftees & Up-And-Coming Rappers

06.22.11 8 years ago 7 Comments
Some say the rap game is in shambles right now. There isn’t necessarily one guy you can say is on top of the game, and bits and pieces of free mixtapes and spins on Hot 97 are the only criteria we have to judge these guys. Remind you of anything? The 2011 NBA Draft is sort of in the same boat. We can’t crown one King, but we’ve definitely seen flashes of potential in all these guys.

This draft is a Summer Jam 2011 of sorts, minus the heat and clouds of smoke hanging overhead. In order to bring together two of our favorite pastimes – rap and basketball – we’ll draw comparisons between this year’s draftees and lyricists, both in their stories and their techniques. Let’s get into it:

Kemba Walker and Big Sean

Kemba seems to like where he’s at, and doesn’t seem too worried about the future. I don’t blame him. The guy had the by far the most memorable buzzer beater of the year, not to mention the fact that he set the Big East Tournament record for points scored with 130. He then breezed through March Madness to grab the NCAA title over Kentucky. Some pretty good memories, huh? Big Sean also has some memories he’d like everyone to know about. On “Memories (Part II)” Sean says,

“I’m huddled up with my team/In other words my inner circle/ Fast-forward a few years later, now we in the [expletive] winner circle/ I remember the first time I was rhymin’ for Kan’/Almost as nervous as first time I rhymed for my mom.”

In just one quick verse, the versatile Big Sean takes us on a little trip throughout his career—from his humble rapping beginnings in front of his moms, to how petrified he felt auditioning in front of the great Kanye at a Detroit radio station. From the time Sean signed with G.O.O.D Music in 2007, there was a lot of hype but not as much follow-through commercially, as Sean went the mixtape route. He released three over the next three years with guests such as Curren$y, Mike Posner and Drake. Though he shot a cool video with Kanye for the song “Get’cha Some”, his name wasn’t really on anyone’s radar until he made a guest appearance on Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, where he murdered his verse of “See Me Now,” alongside Beyonce.

By 2011, Big Sean had become a household name with his first album Finally Famous, which is starting to receive commercial success with the hit “My Last” featuring Chris Brown.

Walker, too, came from humble beginnings in the Bronx to playing in Rice High School’s 6th floor gym in Harlem all the way to the McDonald’s All-American and a scholarship to the University of Connecticut. Like Big Sean, Kemba would be a grinder: Remember the six-overtime thrilling loss to Syracuse in 2009 Big East Tournament and the loss in the Final Four later on that spring? Or the disappointing 2010 season that ended with an NIT loss to Virginia Tech? Then, of course, there was the five-game-in-five-night bender that ended with a Big East Title this past March. But after all these memories, Walker and his Huskies were finally able to hoist the NCAA Trophy. Now, Kemba is Finally Famous.

Derrick Williams and Wiz Khalifa

Though we all hope D-Will doesn’t have the same recreational drug habits as Wiz, both are up near the top right now, and it doesn’t look like either wants to relinquish that position. Both guys are extremely versatile in what they do, and each has continued to work on his game to get to where he is now. Wiz Khalifa is riding high right now, but he’s no stranger to the lows. In the song “Rooftops” off his smash hit album Rolling Papers, Wizzle Man proclaims:

“A lot of [expletive] done changed/New clothes, new cars, new thangs/ Them same boys that used to be at the bottom/ Came up, that what’s they say/ Used to not be allowed in the building, but now we on the rooftops.”

The same can be said for Derrick Williams. Though the 6 foot-9 inch, 241-pound Williams was a physical specimen, he was barely recruited out of high school, which he attributes to attending a smaller school.

“Rather than always just being the person on top, I like to be the underdog and just surprise people and prove people wrong. I think that really explains my game,” he said at an interview for

Rather than work out for big-name scouts, Williams would instead have to sneak into his La Mirada High School gym late at night to get more shots up. Coming from a smaller city like Pittsburgh, not really known for producing any great rappers, Wiz also had to prove himself. How Fly, Burn After Rolling, Star Power Flight School, Kush and OJ 1 and 2 – these were just a part of the huge collection of mixtape work Wiz put in before he was really recognized with the 2010 hit single “Black and Yellow.” Few understand the work that Wiz Khalifa has put in since 2005 – the constant touring around the United States and the flip-flopping of record companies.

But if you listen to Wiz’s lyrics, you’d think life was nothing less than champagne-filled nights, flying all over the world with beautiful women and a surplus of a certain illegal drug:

“Cruisin’ maximum altitudes, I’m tryna to top that/ So in touch with the real, them suckers tryna stop that/ But I, live or let die, party get high/ And tell them lames to the plane or let fly.” (“This Plane” from Deal Or No Deal)

That’s sort of how Derrick Williams played the game of basketball at Arizona. The man flies over the competition, without any regard for those he dunks on. When most players throw down a 360 dunk, they do it on a fast break without anyone around them. Nah, Williams does it with guys trailing him, who wind up under him, looking up at the plane.

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