Hip-Hop Stars and Their NFL Doppelgangers Pt. I
"Damn, I swear sports and music are so synonymous,
'cause we wanna be them and they wanna be us."
- Drake, "Thank Me Now," Thank Me Later
No one says it quite like Drake. But no one says it quite like me either, so here's a brief preamble before we get into the meat and potatoes of this post:
While actors spend most of their time pretending to be someone else and writers spend most of their time holed up by themselves typing, athletes and musicians fall into that same category of celebrity which forces them into the limelight without giving them any roles or desks to hide behind. Whether it occurs at a nationally televised game or a sold-out concert, whether they're wearing team colors or representing their record label, athletes and musicians are forced into the forefront of public consciousness with only their skillset and the faith they have in that skillset to engage their spectators. It's the most raw form of exposure and it's likely because of this that so many involved with either profession are accused of possessing an "ego." If you perform well, you'll be idolized and if you screw up, the punishment is just as damning. Few other occupations face such overwhelming public scrutiny.
It's no wonder that Drake draws this comparison between those in his own field and those who take the field. For those of you familiar with the song, you may be aware that the preceding line of "Thank Me Now" references Jordan and Iverson. However, I'm inclined to believe that football parallels music, especially hip-hop more closely than basketball and for that reason I've created the following list of hip-hop stars and their NFL doppelgangers. Enjoy.
Drake = Arian Foster
Both young, both at the top of their respective games, I've been haunted by this comparison since Foster first blew up in 2010. Imagine a virtually unknown player breaking onto the scene with 1,600+ rushing yards, 16 touchdowns, and no multi-million dollar deal to speak of. Compare that with Drake's sudden emergence: So Far Gone dropped in 2009 without a label backing him and all of a sudden his music began receiving radio play and led to a deal with Young Money.
Now that both athlete and artist have become sensations, they continue to dominate with a certain swagger their peers struggle to match. However, it isn't without an air of sincerity and depth that they do so. Foster is known to often engage interviewers in conversations relating to eastern philosophy thus upending the stupid football player stereotype whereas Drake has no qualms about bearing his emotions in his music and relating to his listeners on a personal level thus displaying layers of character otherwise unheard of in the modern hip-hop scene.
T.I. = Michael Vick
As opposed to the musician and athlete in my first comparison, neither one of these two are on top of their respective games right now regardless of what they may want you to believe. T.I.'s best and most consistent album, Trap Muzik, came out when he was relatively new to the rap scene. Trust me if you haven't heard it, it's GOOD. His next few albums aren't bad per se, but there's a noticeable drop-off in quality. Finally, T.I. hit an all-time low both with his prison sentence and his album Paper Trail. After being locked up, he came back with No Mercy which had some great tracks. Lately, though, T.I. has become more of a pop star than a hip-hop icon. His album due out this winter will probably have some catchy songs for the radio, but it's all been downhill since Trap Muzik for this self-proclaimed "King."
Sound familiar, Mr. Vick? This Virginia Tech QB made the Falcons relevant in the early 2000's. Everything was going smooth until he was put away in prison and then his public image and football career both seemed irreversibly damaged. Not the case. Similar to T.I.'s post-prison effort No Mercy, Vick returned to the league on the Phildelphia Eagles and had an amazing season. Lately, though, things have been rough. Vick's been battling injuries and turnovers for too long and may have to soon admit that, like T.I., the best of his career is behind him.
Luckily, they've both got someone to pick up their slack when the game gets to be too much them (think B.o.B. and LeSean McCoy).
Snoop Dogg = Jerry Rice
Here we go. Two guys who will forever be linked to their crafts. You can't talk 90's West Coast rap without mentioning Snoop and you can't talk late 80's-90's football stars without bringing up Rice. At one point or another, both of these guys were "the guys" you talked about when you were talking rap or football.
Rice may have stayed in uniform a little too long, having ended his career in '05 with the Broncos (after a questionable stint with the Raiders) and everyone knows Snoop is well past his prime as evidenced by his collaboration with Katy Perry on "California Gurls"), but there's no denying the influence of either one. Despite how things may have ended with Rice and how things still are ending with Snoop, they will always be remembered as some of the greatest of all times. You can't take away Rice's days with the Niners just like you can't deny Snoop his hits with Death Row.
That's it for today's post, stay tuned for part two of this list coming soon!