Hip Hop x Basketball -- 9: Renaissance(s)
The concept that a sport or a genre of music, especially one often marginalized as “not music” like hip hop has often been through its years seems foreign to some. The fact, however, is still that each has had an almost consistently generational window of change that can be expected to take place. In basketball, the change can be usually marked to include a “generation” lasting about the length of the careers of the most prominent players of that time. Often times, you hear them discussed/named in terms of the most prominent players/combinations of those particular times. Examples include the “Celtics dynasty,” the “NBA vs ABA,” of course the vaunted “Magic vs Bird” era, the “Jordan era,” and then the shared “Shaq/Kobe era” and “Spurs dynasty” years. Based upon the best players playing 11-15 years, those five great periods have bridged the time from professional basketball’s days of infancy in the late-40s and 50s until the present.
Similarly, and based completely on a much shorter time table, hip hop has changed through the years. Beginning with the days in the parks, to house parties, then to clubs and strictly party raps, on to messages and descriptions of the inner city as cautionary tales, then to the ‘gangsta’ raps describing them in an cartoonish glorified light and on to the burgeoning underground pitted against a booming mainstream; the last thing we can claim hip hop to be is static.
What may be missed, though, is just how much the changes that the two have made since they’ve both been very popular forms of entertainment have been tied to one another. As we previously touched upon, once the two acknowledged one another they seemed inseparable. Again, the Air Jordan sneakers were one thing, the wearing of the jerseys another and the constantly-visible-together nature of participants another still. What brings, and apparently keeps, them together is the almost familial bond that was created as each was making their most major shifts in popularity in the mid-80s. It can be argued that family is a matter of simple coincidence, but the loyalties and behaviors born of that convenient connection remains what is truly worth discussion. In cases such as this, they were drawn and not simply cobbled together. This is suggestive of a more natural fit than a simple boardroom decision made to say “hey, we’re going to cross-promote these two things,” and a resultant hamfisted effort in making it work.
Quite flatly put it is quite simple to sell things to people who have agreed to be sold to, or even better are willing to seek it.
With hip hop and basketball newly (at the time) connected and reared to be sold to children and adults at their last most major renaissances; we could look upon their intermingling as a marriage of sorts and they’ve not come unglued since, and that is in spite of aforementioned attempts to drive a stake between them.