Ballin’ Boys No Good Ready To Come Off The Bench

Rap duo emerging from Luke Campbell's shadow with new album, Game Day PBB.

When the Florida Marlins won the 1997 World Series, it was No Good’s remix of Luke Campbell’s “Raise the Roof” that blasted from the system at Pro Player Stadium. When the Miami Hurricanes won the national college football championship earlier this year, No Good’s “Ballin’ Boy” served as their theme song.

As if that wasn’t enough to cement this particular sports-and-hip-hop connection, ESPN picked up “Ballin’ Boy” to play over its March Madness spots during this year’s NCAA hoops tournament. And No Good capped things off by performing the single — already a club staple in their hometown of Miami — on the sports network’s warm-up show before the Maryland-Indiana game on April 1.

Even though No Good — Mr. Fatal and T-Nasty — didn’t set out to become the de facto hip-hop-to-sports ambassadors, it’s a role they welcome. A pitcher with a wicked fastball, T-Nasty said he came close to signing with the New York Yankees back in the early 1990s, and Fatal spends as much time on the court as he does in the clubs or studios.

” ‘Ballin’ Boy’ wasn’t about basketball per se, but once we saw the connection we figured we could push it in that direction,” Fatal said of the track, which was #3 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart last week. “We didn’t expect it to blow up like this, though.”

No Good have risen through the ranks from hype men for Luke to remixers to running their own show, and their album Game Day PBB comes out May 21. For a while, though, they didn’t know if they’d get a proper album release at all. Their first disc, 1999′s Lizard Lizard, showed promise — Fatal said advance orders were close to 100,000 — but the distributor ended up pulling the plug at the last minute because it featured a link to a less-than-tasteful Luke Web site. “Once it got caught up in that, it was out of our hands,” Fatal said. “We were ready to drop a single with Goodie Mob, and we just lost the momentum.”

Since then, they’ve severed their business ties with Campbell and signed with Artist Direct Records. “By doing background for him, we were learning the game. But we were always overshadowed by his aura,” T-Nasty said. “Not in a bad way, but Luke overshadows a lot of people.”

“It’s like in sports, when you’re on the bench, but you know you got what it takes to be in the starting five,” Fatal added.

Fatal said Game Day PBB represents exactly the kind of message the duo want to send to fans, heavy on the club tracks in the hope that potential dance-floor hits, like the hard-hitting “Dope Man” and “Player/Player,” will lead to radio play and sales. “We kind of want to take the underground approach, getting to where people are talking about us and the buzz just kind of spreads,” he said.

They approached the album with a plan and wanted to take their time, but “Ballin’ Boy” came out of the blue. It took the duo only three hours to go from making the beat to putting down the lyrics, Fatal said. “We knew we were sitting on something, and there were people who wanted us to just put the single out right away,” he added. “But we wanted to wait it out until everything was right, and that paid off.”

One of the cuts they’re most proud of is the album closer, “Hold On,” which shows the duo’s more introspective side. “You know, it’s not gospel, it doesn’t have that gospel sound, but it’s got that gospel message,” T-Nasty said. “It’s based on situations we went through, situations that made us humble and made us have to have faith.”

They’ll follow up “Ballin’ Boy” with “Woozie,” which features Southern Mafia and a sound that’s, well, kinda woozy. “That’s gonna take it away from the club,” T-Nasty said. “You know, we hit you in the club. Then you got your bottle of Cristal or Moët and you leave. Everybody’s left the club woozy before.”

Even though they’re not working with Luke anymore, the two say there’s no hard feelings between them and their former boss. “Naw, it’s still cool. Luke’s son beat up my nephew’s team on Pop Warner football last fall, though,” Fatal said. “We’re gonna have to beat him next year.”