College Athlete-Rappers: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
They can't all be Malcom Kelly, freestyle champion.
Courtesy of the University of Oklahoma
Anyone who has ever watched college sports has seen more than their fair share of those NCAA commercials emphasizing the 'student-athletes who are going pro in something other than sports.' After all, they're shown during every single commercial break.
So, I decided to look into some of the NCAA's student-athletes who have attempted (or are attempting) to go pro in the music industry - 'rapletes,' if you will.
Mike Stud, Duke University baseball player As a relief pitch at Duke University, Michael Seander Jr., more commonly known by his stage name Mike Stud, earned a 1.61 ERA and 9 saves during his freshman year, which were some of the best stats in Duke baseball history. He was even named to the Freshman All-American team. He graduated from Duke with a 3.4 GPA, which landed him on the All-ACC Honor Roll (oh, and the guy has a graduate degree in sports management from Georgetown). But back to the music. When an injury left him unable to play in his 2009 season, he turned to music. At the end of 2010, Mike Stud released his first song "College Humor" on YouTube, which now has over 1.1 million views. Fast forward to last month, his debut studio album Relief hit #1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop albums chart. A remarkable success in seemingly everything he does, I think it's safe to say that even if his music career doesn't last, the dude's gonna be alright. While he's done records with French Montana, Riff Raff and even Scott Storch, I'll start you off with his breakout single "College Humor":
Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma University football player Let's hear some close-to-hometown love for Longview, Texas' Malcolm Kelly. The current NFL free agent only played three seasons for the Oklahoma Sooners. Still, the receiver was a Freshman All-American in 2005, First-team All-Big 12 in 2006 and 2007 and, on top of that, he has the second most receiving yardage and touchdown catches on the Sooner's all-time record list. But that's not important right now. After winning the 2006 Big 12 Championship game over Nebraska, the OU receiver busted a super dope freestyle in the locker room, complete with shout-outs to various players and coaches. Check it out:
TES, San Diego State University basketball player TES, from his initials (Timothy Edward Shelton), stars in the surprisingly high quality (both the video and the song) "SDSU Aztec Motto," which uses Drake's "Motto" instrumental. The 6'7" forward from Fresno, California spits some impressive lyrics in the video while his teammates throw down dunks and the SDSU student section, known as "The Show," gets live. Complete with shout-outs to players, coaches and fans, Tim Shelton also brings the wit with lines like "getting buckets - leaky roofs." Shelton also dropped a nice mixtape, 10 (after his jersey number), but here's the jam that brought him the most attention:
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J. Reall, (soon to be) University of Michigan football player Alright, I cheated a little bit on this one; technically Jabrill Peppers isn't a college athlete just yet. However, Peppers, who was one of the most highly-touted prep cornerbacks of the class of 2014, has committed to play for the Michigan Wolverines.
The New Jersey high schooler (known in the rap game as J. Reall) dropped "Don't Take It Personal" last month with another rapper named Knew Era. Before you check out his highlight reel, listen to his flow:
Loggy, University of California, Berkeley football player As unfortunate as the name is, his music, especially his more recent stuff, is enjoyable. While the Cali bro can be borderline too frat at times, the guy has a unique sound that's hard to define, and I mean that in a good way. He has improved a great deal since he got some attention during his time as a solo artist (which included a track with the previously mentioned Mike Stud). In 2011, Loggy teamed up with his fellow Golden Bear Michael Costanzo (aka DJ Big Red) and a New York musician named Josh Cocktail to create Radical Something, a group that blends hip hop and alternative rock. Take some time and relax to their smooth music video for "California":
Joel Bauman, University of Minnesota wrestler Alright, let's be honest. It's a little cheesy. (I mean, c'mon, I found his lyrics on a website titled "Feel Good Songs.") I'll admit that 'good' might be an exaggeration, but 'bad' was just too harsh. Still, you have to admire the wrestling rapper and his certifiably decent music for using positive lyrics. Unfortunately, the NCAA is trying to block his shine, claiming that he's using his status as an athlete to promote his music, which is technically a commercial product. The fact that the NCAA is trying to screw yet another college athlete is just another reason to support Bauman. Here's his most-viewed single "Ones in the Sky":
Swiperboy, University of Tennessee basketball player I almost didn't put Renaldo Woolridge, aka Swiperboy, on "The Bad" list, because, judging solely by his music, he's not too shabby. But being a rapper is about more than just being able to rap - you have to have a persona. Swiperboy has some relatively good songs like "FootVol" (a play on football and the Tennessee Volunteers) and his most popular "Never Leave You Like Kiffin," in which he tells his girl that, unlike football coach Lane Kiffin who left Tennessee for USC in 2010, he will never leave her. There'd be nothing wrong with that except for one thing: Woolridge recently signed to play the 2012-2013 season with USC... just like Kiffin. In an industry that emphasizes 'realness', that won't fly. Here's the single:
The 7th Floor Crew, University of Miami football players Consisting of several Miami Hurricane football players of Mahoney Hall, the 7th Floor Crew's first and only rap song, recorded over the instrumental of Aaliyah's "If Your Girl Only Knew," brought another controversy to The U's storied football program. I will hesitantly admit that the crew's debut, which includes verses by future NFL draftees Greg "G-Reg" Olsen and Jon "Big Beast" Beason, is pretty catchy. But its subject matter is pretty irredeemable. Here's the Hurricanes' single:
G-Time, Butler University basketball player The good news is that it's nothing that G-Time, as Butler foward Gordon Hayward calls himself, did outside of rap that landed him on "The Bad" list. The bad news is that he landed on "The Bad" list because he's very bad at rapping. Even the title was stupid: "Too Big, Yo." Really? There isn't a video, so we're forced to focus on the actual lyrics, which could've benefitted from any distraction at all. Luckily for the Butler Bulldogs, the song didn't keep them from winning. The team surprised almost everyone by making it to the 2010 national championship game, where they lost to the powerhouse Duke Blue Devils. Does their performance on the court make up for their performance on the mic? You decide:
The Young Cons, Dartmouth College basketball players To be clear, Joshua Riddle and David Rufful are undoubtedly respectable people. After all, the recent Ivy League graduates were Division I hoopers and the editors of The Dartmouth Review. They've even appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox & Friends, Huckabee and HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher. But I'm focusing on rapping right now, and, unfortunately, that's one of the talents that they lack. The Christian and conservative rap duo, known as The Young Cons, drops rhymes about Jesus Christ, Ronald Reagan and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, so I guess you have to give them a few points for originality. In the end, sadly, the duo's attempts to fight the stereotypes of conservatives just resulted in them reinforcing a different stereotype - white guys can't rap. I'm sure they'll be just fine with their Ivy League degrees, but judge their hip-hop potential for yourself:
Michigan State University football player I'm sure there are quite a few college athletes who aren't the world's most intelligent. However, few are as stupid as Jay Harris, who was so dumb that he never actually got to be a college athlete. Harris was a highly-ranked receiver from Pennsylvania who was set to play for Michigan State on a scholarship. Then the rapper known as Jay DatBull posted his extremely far-from-G-rated raps on YouTube. His "Datbull 4 life" music video (embedded below), which opens with him lighting a blunt and goes on to use a great deal of drug and sexual references, resulted in Michigan State retracting their full scholarship offer to Jay Harris. Perhaps the saddest part is that Harris seems to be completely okay with it. In an interview with Complex magazine, Harris tells the naysayers to "worry about the mistakes that they make in their life 'cause this isn't theirs. That's all I gotta say to them. They keep on hating on me and that made me famous today." I guess he doesn't realize that he's "famous" for being a complete moron. Oh, and his music is terrible:
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