10 Athletes Who Tried to Break into the Rap Game
Shaq and Metta World Peace (then known as Ron Artest) have both tried their hand at making music.
Karen Struthers / Shutterstock.com
Despite the dismal attempts made by so many, it’s been proven time and time again that athletes can't rap. Yet every year, brave hopefuls make the leap into the world of hip-hop — only to experience a few moments of fame (and sometimes internet hilarity) before inevitably being sent back to the locker room.
Because the majority of our sports idols spent their most impressionable years dribbling, kicking, or throwing balls (and elbows) instead of studying the flows of hip-hop legends, stories of success are few and far between. (We're looking at you, Shaq.) And we’re left with the remaining ridiculousness that some call “jock-rap.” However, we have to hand it to them: At least they had the cojones to go the distance and take a turn at the mic. From Kobe Bryant to John Cena, here are 10 examples of when athletic prowess just didn’t translate into a rap career.
Although we managed to enter Y2K relatively unscathed, civilization almost didn’t survive the Kobe Bryant rap era. Fresh out of high school and recently signed to the Lakers, Sony Music signed the young shooting guard and his group of hometown pals known as CHEIZAW with the intent of eliminating everyone but Bryant in order to take advantage of his growing celebrity status. Unfortunately, his desire to go toe-to-toe with the best in the industry didn't totally work out, as his 2000 single, “K.O.B.E.” — featuring Tyra Banks — wasn’t well-received. Deciding that the juice wasn't worth the squeeze, Sony scrapped the Visions album idea entirely. Bryant retired in 2016 as one of history’s greatest basketball players, but the same can’t be said for every endeavor that Kobe Bryant pursued during his 20-year career.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Pretty Boy Floyd has been known to run his mouth, so it should come as no surprised that he has dabbled in the art of rhyming. Back in 2007, the undefeated boxer sought out a new challenge: music. After befriending rapper-turned-ghostwriter 50 Cent and changing his nickname to Money, Mayweather ventured to the studio to lay down his deepest thoughts on existentialism and world hunger. Just kidding — his one and only track, called “Yep,” possesses the lyrical stylings of an awkward middle-schooler trying his absolute best to pass as cool. Since it was the only track Mayweather put out, it's safe to assume he wasn't offered a permanent position in G-Unit.
What does LeBron James do when he’s got free time on his hands? Why, rap over Jay Z and Rick Ross’ “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” from Magna Carta, Holy Grail with aspiring rapper Sian Cotton, of course. Allegedly all in fun, the NBA small forward raps some verses, including “Say what you want about the King/Got money, got cribs, got whips — and oh yeah — got two rings.” Though the 2014 foray into music seemed like an isolated event at the time, the Cavaliers' small forward has been toying around with Drake's recently released More Life album on his Instagram stories. Now that he’s got another championship ring to add to his lyrical bragging, perhaps the King will give rapping another go.
“The Way It’s Goin’ Down"
Shaq deserves more than just a suspended statue of himself outside of the Los Angeles Staples Center for all of his accomplishments. The ‘90s loved Shaq, and he reciprocated in the form of four studio albums, two compilation albums, two movie soundtracks, and nine singles. What separated O’Neal from the rest was his openness when it came to personal issues, such as his estranged relationship with his father, instead of the typical “boats and hoes” nursery rhymes his fellow athletes have been known to churn out. You know you’ve done well for yourself when you have Ice Cube, the Notorious B.I.G., Big Pun, and Method Man appearing on your tracks.
Once in a blue moon, an idea comes along that seems so great in theory that there’s no way you can let it go. If recording a French-language, crunk-genre album was that stroke of genius, then you and Tony Parker are two peas in a pod. The Spurs’ point guard released his 11-track compilation in 2007, just a few months before his wedding to actress Eva Longoria. Perhaps she unearthed a copy of TP and gave it a listen, ultimately forcing her to file for divorce only three years later.
Read on for the musical stylings of John Cena, Deion Sanders, and Metta World Piece.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.