A recent conversation between Steve Stoute and HipHopDX revealed the longtime music mogul honestly believed the NBA had taken over MTV’s once invincible stronghold on pop culture.
Count Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg as a supporter of such a statement.
“The reason why I say it feels like it more than ever is because people are so down on the NFL,” Rosenberg tells HipHopDX ahead of his NBA All-Star Celebrity Game hosting duties. “The NBA as a league tends to embrace it. Take this weekend, for example. [The NBA] has always gotten it right. NBA All-Star Weekend has never been off. I remember when it was in D.C. when I still lived there — 20 years ago and it’s always been huge. There’s always been a huge celebrity element to it.”
With several planned exciting events this weekend (including HipHopDX’s Rapper of the Year: J. Cole performing at the 2019 NBA Halftime Show), it’s evident Hip Hop has a seat at the NBA’s table and Rosenberg feels it’s even deeper than that.
“Listen: Black culture drives mainstream culture always in America,” he continued. “That’s a fact. And the NBA, in many ways, is an extension of Black culture and sort of ends of being a place where everything that’s ‘cool’ in the culture convenes. So it’s the perfect sort of place for everything that’s cool in music and sports. The NFL never really had that. The NHL obviously doesn’t have that.”
While baseball jerseys have always been a thing when it comes to Hip Hop fashion, Rosenberg cites an oft-overlooked sport that once had a shot of being a rapper’s favorite punchline.
“There was a time when you could argue that when [Mike] Tyson was at his prime, boxing was really big and culturally important,” he recalls. “But that really — in terms of a modern standpoint — lived and died with the Tyson era. Not to say that Floyd [Mayweather] didn’t have huge moments but I don’t care how much money he made.
“No one who lived through both would ever legitimately say that culturally the Mayweather era was close to the Tyson era. Unfortunately, Tyson’s prime was at a time when rappers weren’t even making the money to sit front row. Maybe The Fresh Prince? He predated the era. But there’s no comparison. The NBA … they get it. I credit everyone from Adam Silver on down.”
Every since The Notorious B.I.G.’s accurate “either you’re slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot,” the fabric that threads the rap and basketball worlds have been obvious.
And many a rapper has tried their hands at balling out professionally. but who does Rosenberg feels should take the G.O.A.T. title in the occult?
Who else but The Big Aristotle, Shaquille O’Neal?
“Shaq!” Rosenberg exclaims. “He was an actual rapper. It may have not always been the best, but sometimes it was pretty good. He has one record with Biggie. Another one with Method Man and RZA. A few platinum records. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Shaq’s not a rapper, thus you have to say it’s the Diesel. I am playing the stats. Shaq is the one.”