Required Hip-Hop For The Top 30 Players In The 2012 NBA Draft

With the NBA Draft Lottery taking place, everyone has a better idea where likely draftees will land come June 28, 2012. Here at Dime, we’ve already begun our full-fledge draft coverage. Catch up on player profiles like Harrison Barnes, the weekly diary of Dion Waiters, and our latest mock draft. All of these features provide a glimpse into what to expect from the incoming influx of ballers. Yet, the perpetual interrelationship between hip-hop and hoopin’ can’t be overlooked.

The following playlist should bring one closer to the potential first-round prospects through the single joint that captures the type of player they are now, and the one they are about to become.

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Kanye West – “Mercy” (feat. Big Sean, Pusha-T and 2 Chainz)
“Mercy” is the first known track in the much-anticipated G.O.O.D. Music album to be released later this year. Like Yeezy being the ringleader of arguably the best label in the rap game, Anthony Davis led his fellow No. 1 recruiting class and the Kentucky Wildcats to winning the NCAAs while sweeping most accolades for national player of the year along the way. His menacing unibrow and defensive timing for blocks will be coming as fast as the Lamborghini Murcielago tweeted by Ye’ the other day. With Davis as N’awlins’ foundation, the entire league will soon hear him scream: “When it comes to my sound which is the champion sound, believe!”

Wale – “No Days Off”
He played his first two years at Kansas under the shadows of the Morris twins. When the spotlight was at its highest, Thomas Robinson recorded a monster 18 points and 17 boards double-double versus Kentucky during the title game. Since his freshman year, he’s been working hard to reach the point where he’s at now. Wale didn’t start to get his real due either until he left Hov‘s presence. Robinson’s tireless work ethic isn’t going to change any time soon. Thus, these D.C. natives share the same drive that’s conveyed when Wale spits these lines:

When you reachin’ your dreams
You got a reason to brag
Ambition over everything
And I never plan on settling

Game – “Hustlin’ (Championship Anthem)”
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is widely known as the intangible guy that brought all the Wildcats together to accomplish their ultimate goal. What he lacks in offensive game, he more than makes up for it through doing everything that’s left off the box score. And while there are a lot of rap joints that talk about hustlin’, this Game version on his Brake Lights mixtape was slept on by most hip-hop heads and depicts Kidd-Gilchrist’s mindset as far as how he plans to leave his imprint on the NBA franchise that selects him. So, it wouldn’t be wise to dismiss Kidd-Gilchrist as limited offensively just yet, especially considering this verse from Game:

How the f@#% you think I got the name Game
Same way the Lakers got all them f@#%ing rings

Public Enemy – “He Got Game”
He can’t escape the comparison. Bradley Beal’s jumper is too pure and automatic that the link with Ray Allen is a mirror reflection. Hell, Spike Lee might as well have the camera crews ready to film a He Got Game sequel. As much as fans love to associate a prospect to a player already in the league, Beal is the safest bet to actually resemble his lofty Jesus Shuttlesworth model. That said, one can easily envision Beal in the same Coney Island playground, shooting the same jumpers as Allen did after the film’s opening montage with this jam playing in the backdrop…

Kid Cudi – “Live and Learn”
The longer a player stays in college, the more likely he’ll get exposed or susceptible to negative criticism. The one-and-done rule has indirectly impacted the way scouts view players that don’t take advantage of this early exit. Harrison Barnes is the biggest victim of this injustice. His intellect, once applauded, now has worked against him. Still, Barnes has had time to reflect since his Tar Heels got ousted by the Jayhawks in the tournament. He should recognize by now what his faults were and how he’ll be a better player as a result of this experience.

J. Cole – “Higher”
Come here, I’m ’bout to take you higher
We about to set this b*#! on fire
Pour a lil’ gas, spark up your lighter
You might not be the one but you the one I desire

This J. Cole initial verse in “Higher” personifies the potential behind drafting Andre Drummond. It’s no secret that big men always rise on draft night. On the surface, he clearly possesses the athleticism and upside that all general managers salivate over in a franchise center. If he played up to expectations at UConn, he would sit on top of everyone’s draft board, not Anthony Davis. The lust for him is real; it’s just a matter of which team has the balls to take a project and develop him to warrant the high selection.

Stalley – “Lincoln Way Nights (Shop Remix)” (feat. Rick Ross)
There’s a huge divide amongst GMs about how they project Jared Sullinger. Likewise, this collaboration between an Ohioan in Stalley and South Beach’s Teflon don Rick Ross was just weird. These two cats are virtual polar opposites. And for Stalley to even consider doing a track on Miami is similar to the confusion NBA front offices have on whether Sullinger has the make-up of a safe and promising pick. He can easily be a marginal player like Stalley is a rapper, or evolve into an impact player like Ricky Rozay.

Meek Mill – “Big Dreams”
“I think Philly is a different breed from every other city…just the toughness,” Dion Waiters described his hometown in his draft diary. He also revealed that he’s listening to Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 2 mixtape. The uniqueness these Philly cats share is what differentiates them from their peers. It is why people downloaded that mixtape more than two million times when it dropped. It is why there’s been talk of an early lottery promise for Waiters. It is why the intro to “Big Dreams” resonates to what’s unfolding: “You ever watch a dream manifest? It’s nothing like it.”

T.I. – “Rubber Band Man”
John Henson’s game consists of being able to do a little bit of everything in the post well, but nothing in particular that stands out as elite. His diverse skill-set is more similar to the old The Spinners‘ version of “Rubberband Man” played in that memorable <a href="

Too Short – “Blow the Whistle”
“Blow the Whistle” is a Bay Area all-time classic by Too Short. This is the song that put Short on the rap scene back in the day. Lillard impressed at the combine and competed against the other PGs in this class to legitimize his top point guard standing. He may have gone to Weber State, but that hasn’t stopped him from showing the flash and groove from his Cali roots.

Common – “Universal Mind Control” (feat. Pharrell)
The funky beat to this joint presents a new-school meets old-school flavor with Common’s flow. There’s no question Kendall Marshall is the top orchestrator of this point guard bunch. Sometimes the best way to speed the tempo up is to have someone like Marshall use his “Universal Mind Control” to see the floor, albeit at his own old-school feel.

Mac Miller – “The Question” (feat. Lil’ Wayne)
Sometimes I wonder who the f@#% I am
So I’ve been lookin’ in the mirror and it still don’t make no sense
I’m askin’ what am I supposed to do
I’ve done so much in my short lifetime, but I haven’t done shit

In a nutshell, don’t these Mac Miller lines reflect the enigma that is Perry Jones III? So much untapped upside, yet nobody has the slightest clue if he’ll be able to harness it.

Diggy Simmons – “Two Up”
Austin Rivers has been fighting his destiny for quite some time now. He’s never shied away from the spotlight or burden that comes with being Doc Rivers’ kid. Instead, he has embraced it. Diggy Simmons would know what it’s like to come up after a living legend. Simmons also relishes their common reality. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be spitting lines like these:

You think my hype is all gas but you fill my tank
How you fuel me with what you cruelty
And I’m a beast on the mic and that’s the beauty
I’m illmatic Nas, reasonable Jay, my adidas run, that’s reasonable to say

14. MEYERS LEONARDRiff – “White Men Can’t Jump”
Scouts got a better look at Meyers Leonard at the draft combine. His athleticism and ability to knock down a jumper drew eyes. Still, he might just be pulling off his best Billy Hoyle impersonation. At 7-feet, 7-3 wingspan, and 250 pounds, it’s tempting to reach for a Hoyle at those measurements.

Nas – “I Can”
Consistency personified…Nas delivers in this joint. One knows what you’re getting with Nas, just like GMs know what to expect from a sure center commodity in Tyler Zeller.

Andre 3000 – “Take Off Your Cool” (feat. Norah Jones)
Jeremy Lamb is from Hotlanta. But looking at his game and demeanor, one would never pick that up. The only other native Atlantian where his vibe can draw references to would be Andre 3000. Lamb’s laid back attitude is the only thing stepping in the way from raising his draft stock.

Consequence – “Job Song”
There haven’t been many Queens products going pro lately. Moe Harkless is about to make the jump from St. John’s to the league and avoid the unemployment rate facing recent grads that even another Red Storm alumnus faced, J. Cole. He’s come onto the scene unexpectedly and this Consequence joint speaks to how hard it is for anyone to get a job out of Queens.

Drake – “The Motto” (feat. Lil’ Wayne and Tyga)
Terrence Ross has a bounce to his step that intrigues front office execs. How he gets buckets is almost uncanny. His game directly translates in the NBA. So, one shouldn’t be surprised once he becomes a hit and goes up on draft boards like this Drake single climbed the music charts.

Big Pun – “Still Not a Player” (feat. Joe)
After two years at the cold ‘Cuse, Fab Melo decided to dip to go pro. He got better in his sophomore campaign; whenever he was on the floor and not dealing with school bullshit. Nonetheless, Melo is a project that may not be close to contributing big minutes right away. Melo probably told Jim Boeheim the Portuguese version of this Big Pun classic.

Hey yo, I’m still not a player but you still a hater
Elevator to the top, ha, see you later, I’m gone

Freddie Gibbs – “The Ghetto”
Going into Kentucky, Marquis Teague was thought of as a younger and better prospect than his brother Jeff. Despite the progress he made over the course of the year and winning a national title, Teague isn’t viewed in the same light for whatever reason. GMs should do a thorough background check on him. That should lead them to realize that this Indianapolis native wasn’t raised too far from Freddie Gibbs’ hometown of Gary, Indiana. Because to “make it out from where I’m from yes you gotta do something special.”

Big K.R.I.T. – “I Got This”
For Terrence Jones to come back to Kentucky for another go around it took some pride swallowing and some confidence. Every Wildcat wants to be one-and-done. Jones decided to return and prove he can be a better player, while demanding fewer shots. His stock hasn’t changed much a year later, although his approach to the game has. This entire time his mental toughness has caught up to his physical toughness. The only verse running through his mind right now is this one Big K.R.I.T. spit…

Now I suppose I’m quite alright
Ever since I blew
Never worry about me or worry about mine player
Worry about you

Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg – “Young, Wild, and Free”
Tony Wroten is the most explosive point guard in this class. However, his play can often be reckless and uncontained. He is much better out in the open floor, but still needs to cut down on his alarming turnover rate (3.8). The team that lets him play and learn from his mistakes gradually will net the steal of the draft. At the moment, he only knows how to hoop “Young, Wild, and Free”.

Young Jeezy – “Hustle Hard”
There ain’t nothing fancy about Arnett Moultrie. He’s a hard worker who will battle for the boards. His 10.5 rebounds per game led the SEC, not Anthony Davis. Thus, Young Jeezy’s “Hustle Hard” is a testament to Moultrie’s roughness.

2Pac – “Pain”
Nobody knows the kind of “Pain” Quincy Miller has had to go through to recover from his knee injury. This jam from the iconic Above the Rim should put to rest the questions of his lack of explosiveness. Miller is as strong as 2Pac’s acting performance in this film.

Fronda – “Klick Klick Boom”
Jeff Taylor is from Sweden. Because of where he’s from and athletic ability on the defensive end, he often is labeled as “the next Thabo Sefolosha.” But, Sefolosha is actually from Switzerland, not Sweden. That’s how you know scouts like to typecast players before really getting to know them — or grasp geography for that matter. Nevertheless, Taylor has been Americanized like this fellow Swedish hip-hop artist, Fronda, has from afar. Taylor’s jump shot is almost “Klick Klick Boom” now, although I have no idea what this dude Fronda is exactly rapping about in this joint.

Tony Parker – “Top of the Game” (feat. Fabolous)
This French kid is the only international prospect on the first round radar. With a record six foreign players made the first round cut last year, teams ain’t scared anymore to take their chances abroad. Hence, Evan Fournier has to be on “Top of the Game” to be thought of this highly in this deep draft. Too bad the same can’t be said of his countryman Tony Parker’s rap skills.

Fabolous – “My Time” (feat. Jeremih)
Go hard today
Can’t worry about the past ’cause that yesterday
I’m a put it on the line ’cause it’s my time
Hey, hey, hey, hey
Gotta stay on my grind ’cause it’s my time

This opening Fabolous verse is simple yet still gets one hyped. Out of the litany of great Brooklynite rappers, Faboloso doesn’t get enough due. Similarly, Doron Lamb didn’t receive the kind of attention out of high school like Lance Stephenson did coming from the same borough. He was the most consistent scorer on the champion Wildcats squad, including a game-high 22 points against Kansas for the ‘ship. Lamb already knows how to be an effective and efficient role player, which should aid how much playing time he earns right away at the next level.

DJ Deckstream – “Life Is Good” (feat. Mos Def)
“Life Is Good” right now for Andrew Nicholson. When is the last time St. Bonaventure produced an NBA player, anyways (anyone remember J.R. Bremer?)? It doesn’t matter. Nicholson is about to change all that with his mellow game. The team that likely picks him up won’t be in any rush to expect him to be a franchise-changer out the gate; because “Life is Good” for them too as a present contender.

Lupe Fiasco – “Kick Push”
Tyshawn Taylor stayed in Kansas all four years. In today’s basketball world, he’s been around the game forever. Still, Taylor is a cat that’ll compete with the best of them and won’t back down from anyone. Likewise, Lupe has been around the rap game for a cool minute now, but that doesn’t change his place as an emcee to be reckoned with. In the meantime, one can be assured Taylor will follow the path of this joint’s hook…

And so he kick, push, kick, push
Kick, push, kick, push
Coast – and away he rolled
Just a rebel to the world with no place to go
And so he kick, push, kick, push

Eminem – “Stan” (feat. Elton John)
During the Chicago draft combine, Royce White mentioned his beard was inspired by John Lennon. While Lennon is an all-time music great, there’s no way a Beatles song will make this playlist. White’s unique game and persona makes him a problem on the court, and he is a blend of old school and new school all in one. That’s why this epic Grammy performance between Eminem and Elton John is a more fitting musical rendition of him as a player.

Who should the top picks in the NBA Draft be listening to right now?

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