As a native of Los Angeles, San Antonio Spurs star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan’s name carries weight in the hip hop community.
It’s not uncommon for sports and rap to intersect, especially in the modern era of both mediums. Rappers and ball players tend to have a mutual respect sprouting from their dedication to their respective crafts and perseverance to achieve the highest levels of success in their field. As a result, rappers will often times shout out their favorite basketball players in their music as an ode to a peer or to match their rhyme scheme.
Considering his roots in Compton, California and legacy as a USC Trojan, San Antonio Spurs shooting guard DeMar DeRozan has been mentioned by various artists over the last few years with the newest generation of rappers showing more love than ever. With a large conglomerate of popular rap sprouting from Los Angeles, the second-year Spur has garnered a lot of love from Westside rappers.
DeRozan’s name has been dropped by a variety of artists including but not limited to Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd, Wiz Khalifa, Wale, The Game and more. The uniqueness of his name and status as a four-time All-Star makes him a popular individual to get name-dropped on a track.
The passing of philanthropist, artist and famed businessman Nipsey Hussle struck a personal chord with the 29-year-old DeRozan, whose rise within the community followed a similar timeline as the deceased rapper’s. The two had a special friendship that stretched beyond simple pleasantries and DeMar took the tragedy to heart – along with the vast majority of the Crenshaw community.
Hip hop and basketball will forever be intertwined with some lyrics and moments standing out more than others. With that in mind, here are the three best references to the Spurs’ slashing savant in rap.
Next: Roddy Ricch - Die Young
3. Roddy Ricch – Die Young
At just 20 years old, rising star Roddy Ricch is putting his name on the map with a unique style and wide vocal range. As a native of Compton (same as DeRozan), Roddy uses his life experience and creative lyrics to tell stories of his reality. On the night of popular Florida-based rapper XXXTentacion’s murder, Roddy wrote a song entitled “Die Young” loosely based on his peer’s untimely death.
With thoughtful lyrics laced over a masterful beat by world-renowned producer London on da Track, Die Young instantly became his most popular song with a whopping 65 million views on YouTube as of Friday, July 26, 2019. Roddy name drops DeRozan in the first verse of the track with a quick line:
“They know I’m ballin’ in the city like DeRozan,
Gotta keep my n****s ’round me, I can’t do the wrong friends,”
The track was crafted as an ode to all of the up-and-coming artists that never got the chance to see their legacies through. In his explanation on Genius.com, he noted rappers Lil Snupe and Speaker Knockerz, who both passed away in their youth, as sources of inspiration in addition to the aforementioned XXXTentacion.
Snupe, who was a close friend and protégé to superstar Meek Mill, was shot and killed at only 18 years old while Speaker Knockerz died of a heart attack related to an overdose of codeine syrup at 19 years old. In his annotations for his lyrics, Ricch said “I wanted to make something in remembrance of them but at the same time just making people well aware of what’s been going on.”
Part of that was showing respect to DeRozan, who is a highly-regarded representative of his hometown and has done it the right way.
“My boy, DeMar. That’s my boy. He be tappin’ in on the music and everything. He was one of the ones that I could see that made it. It’s not just saying I’m ballin’ like an NBA star, it’s like, n***a he came out the city and he ballin’. That n***a got bread. I’m ballin’ in the city like DeRozan. I always do that double meaning sh*t.”
In the cadence and flow of the song, Roddy seamlessly shows respect to San Antonio’s leading isolation scorer and playmaker.
Next: Rapsody - Gonna Miss You
2. Rapsody – Gonna Miss You
In her 2006 E.P. entitled “Crown,” North Carolina-native Rapsody nodded at DeMar DeRozan while making a play on words based around the theme of international players. At the time, DeRozan was in the early going of his best season yet for the Toronto Raptors. In that time, he averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, four assists and 1.1 steals in 36 minutes per game.
In the preceding bar to DeRozan’s call out, Rapsody mentioned legendary lyricist and co-star of the rap group Outkast Andre 3000, endearingly referred to as ‘Three Stacks.’ She nodded at Andre’s role in rap group UGK’s music video for their hit track, “International Players Anthem (I Choose You)” released in 2007. In the video, the group follows Andre through his fictional wedding.
“Some days I feel like Three Stacks up at that altar,
International player like DeRozan I can ball hard…”
DeRozan isn’t the only basketball player to get his name dropped on this track – Rapsody is well versed in NBA hoops and oftentimes references players with specificity. Earlier in the song, she mentions Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green and makes a clever joke about his past notoriety for kicking opponents in the groin.
She also made a brief reference to Kobe Bryant and his retirement toward the end of the track.
Rapsody is well known for her creative bars and ability to toy around with words to paint a picture for her listeners. This play on both DeRozan and Andre 3000’s activity in the international landscape was a treasure and for that creativity, she lands as the runner up on this list.
Next: 1. Royce da 5'9'’ - Second Place
1. Royce da 5’9’’ – Second Place
Recognized as one of the most innovative rappers of his time, Michigan-based artist Royce da 5’9’’ has spent almost 25 years putting together a catalogue of work that stands amongst some of the greatest hip hop artists to ever pick up a microphone. His fanbase could be considered niche and his popularity amongst casual rap fans is limited, but those who put their energy into this art form can attest to Royce’s stature as one of the game’s hottest lyricists.
In 2011, Royce recruited the help of one of the most widely recognized producers of his time in DJ Premier. Having worked on such masterpieces as Nas’ Illmatic, The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death and Kanye West’s Graduation, Premier’s body of work speaks for itself. This duo has collaborated numerous times throughout their respective careers – this was only a small sample of what they’re capable of.
Toward the end of his first verse, Royce makes reference to infamous music manager Paul Rosenberg before setting up a bar about DeMar DeRozan’s vertical leaping ability.
“You about to see how far that Paul Rosenberg will go,
The height of my game is like DeMar DeRozan vertical”
During his performance at the 2009 NBA combine, DeRozan posted a maximum vertical leap of 38.5 inches, which ranked third best of the group.
His athleticism and outstanding leaping ability translated directly to the NBA, where DeRozan emerged as a ferocious dunker and acrobat. In the midst of his flow, Royce managed to make reference to the Spurs’ marquee player for one of his most coveted traits.
He certainly managed to bring his A-game for the ninth track on his fifth studio album entitled “Success Is Certain.”