By Chris Yuscavage
When it comes to sports, Nelly knows how to hold a conversation.
So yesterday, ESPN invited the St. Louis rapper to their Bristol, Conn. studios again (this is Nelly’s third appearance on the show by our count) to appear on their morning show, “First Take.” He debated with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and Skip Bayless about a host of different sports-related topics during the show’s popular “1st and 10” segment and then fielded questions from the pair about his music.
This isn’t the first time ESPN’s invited a rapper to their set to talk sports, though. The Worldwide Leader in Sports hosted Lil Wayne last year when he appeared on “First Take” as well as the network’s nightly show, “Around the Horn.” Wale has been a featured guest on “First Take” and gone head-to-head with Bayless. Bow Wow has done it, too. And recently, even MC Hammer got in on the action by visiting the “First Take” set to talk about his affiliation with a new MMA organization and do a little debating of his own.
Clearly, ESPN’s not afraid to invite rappers to battle on their network. So, we say: Why stop at these guys? If they’re looking to continue to showcase rappers on the network, we’ve got a few that we’d love to hear talk sports. Yo, ESPN: Can you please let these guys get into the game?
The Rapper: Master P
His Qualifications: P signed signed with the Charlotte Hornets briefly during the 1998-99 NBA season, had a preseason contract with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors in 1999 and played in both the CBA and ABA during the early 2000s. Oh, and who can forget when he signed big-time NFL prospect Ricky Williams to his short-lived No Limit Sports Management?
P’s pretty much the only rapper who not only knows sports but has played them at a professional level (Nelly, a standout baseball prospect at one time, is the only other guy who comes close). So if you get him involved in a debate about sports, there’s a good chance he won’t be like left saying, “Uhhhhh…”
The Rapper: Jay-Z
His Qualifications: Hov is a part-owner of the New Jersey Nets and a close personal friend of LeBron James.
If you’ve watched “1st and 10” more than once, you know two things: One, Skip Bayless is a master at getting whoever he’s debating riled up. And two, he hates LeBron James, like, despises him. So it’d be plenty interesting to hear Hov try to defend his boy on national TV.
The Rapper: Joe Budden
His Qualifications: Joe likes to use sports references in his punchlines. Like, “Rap for hire, call me if help is needed/I got this whole s— covered, Darrelle Revis.” And, “White T with my cig lit/I’m Larry Brown, New York was f—– up, so they signed me to fix s—.” And, “I ain’t gettin’ s— out of this, I should stop it/But Tony Romo n—– stay gettin’ outta pocket.” And … oh, you get the point.
In case you haven’t noticed, Joe Budden’s got an opinion … on everything (check his Twitter ), if you don’t believe us). And if Skip Bayless managed to have a better one? Well, we’re pretty sure JB would have a diss track loaded with sports references ready to go the next day. Just sayin’.
The Rapper: Drake
His Qualifications: Drizzy was practically an honorary member of last year’s University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. He performed at the squad’s Midnight Madness practice to kick off the season, sat courtside frequently during the season and even learned how to do the “John Wall” dance.
Dear ESPN: If you want to see a HUGE spike in your female audience, you’ll invite Drake to the “First Take” set. Just make sure you invite some extra security for the front gates, too. #No Southstreet Seaport. Sincerely, RapFix
The Rapper: Rick Ross
His Qualifications: Word on the street is that the Boss once played college football (okay, so it was at Albany State, not LSU, but it was still college football!). His college career only lasted about two weeks—but he did get really excited about going to a Miami Dolphins game a couple weeks ago!
From what we can tell, Ross seems to spend all his time smoking weed, performing and recording new material … that probably doesn’t give him much time to watch SportsCenter. But we have a feeling he’d still manage to hold a decent conversation. Plus, if Bayless was really on his game, he’d one-up Ross by showing up on set wearing a pair of tinted Louis Vuitton frames for their debate and give us five minutes of pure TV gold. Bawse!
The Rapper: Ice Cube
His Qualifications: Cube produced “Straight Outta L.A.” for ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series earlier this year. He’s also been a lifelong Oakland Raiders fan (since back when they were the Los Angeles Raiders).
Cube might be “Straight Outta Compton,” but if you saw the doc, you know he’s bled silver-and-black since the day he was born. So it’s safe to say his “1st and 10” motto would be “Just win, baby.”
The Rapper: Snoop Dogg
His Qualifications: He’s a diehard Los Angeles Lakers, Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Southern California fan and he once ran a youth Pop Warner league, in which his kids played.
Um, are you as surprised as we are that he hasn’t become a regular contributor yet? He was already on “Around The Horn” talking about LeBron, but as far as we’re concerned, Snoop should have been the first rapper to make an appearance on The Worldwide Leader in Sports. Come on, ESPN: Get on your game!
image courtesy of ESPN
Which rapper do you think should appear on ESPN next? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!