Which Recent Rook Are You?
So similar are NBA and hip-hop’s young cats.
by Adam Fleischer
Each issue in the mag, we drop “Which NBA Player Are You?” provided without fail by Sam Rubenstein. Last month on the site, Sam gave us his most recent gem from ish 131, Cam’Ron and T-Mac. Keeping with that theme, here are some of the basketball and raps young guns on their way to making an impact in their respective fields. Or, maybe they’re not. Either way, they’ve got some more in common than it may seem at first glance. Who’d I leave out?
Courtney Lee is Drake
Overlooked…For My Past?
Selected 22nd overall by the Magic, Courtney Lee saw plenty of potential suitors pass on the opportunity to bring him on board draft night (including New Jersey, twice). Maybe the relative lack of interest was because, while being one of the nation’s leading scorers as a senior, Lee played in the Sun Belt for non-power Western Kentucky. “That was your bad, how could you pass up on him?” asks Drake on “Say What’s Real,” in a line directed toward the head of Universal Motown in reference to a decision not to sign him. The label may have been turned off by his image as a teen soap star on Degrassi: The Next Generation, even with the show’s collective and Drake’s individual success.
Give Me a Shot, I’ll Show You
Once given the chance, Lee made the most of it, starting 16 playoff games during the Magic’s run to the Finals. Put on by Lil’ Wayne, Drake has been showing he has what it takes, already charting top 10 hits “Best I Ever Had” and “Every Girl.”
Maybe We Shouldn’t Have Passed…
Despite outperforming expectations, Lee was shipped away at season’s end. And to the Nets, no less. Meanwhile, despite claiming he had signed with his own management company with distribution through Young Money, it recently surfaced that a larger label would get credit once Drizzy’s songs hit the charts. Yup, you guessed it: Motown.
DJ Augustin is J. Cole
After a solid freshman season playing alongside Kevin Durant, Augustin excelled as a sophomore in the leading role for the Longhorns and caught the eye of some NBA franchises. J. Cole’s debut mixtape, The Come Up, certainly turned some heads. But it was his sophomore offering, The Warm Up, released in June, that further showcased his skills on the mic and really had people talking.
North Carolina State of Mind
Once he left leaving Texas early, Augustin was selected by the up and coming Charlotte Bobcats, NC’s franchise. While he moved to NYC for college more than five years ago, J. Cole continues to proudly rep his hometown of Fayetteville, NC—a mere 2 hours from where Augustin and the Bobcats play.
Cosigned by The Greatest
As the 9th overall pick, Augustin’s goal of making it to the NBA was realized thanks to some backing from the greatest of all time—Michael Jordan—who chose the point guard to run the show for his Bobcats. J. Cole got a step closer to his dream (“All he wanted was a deal so when he got it he just faded, but tell me what’s a deal when you wanna be the greatest?” he raps on “Last Call”) when the greatest of all time—Jay-Z—signed him as the first artist to his upstart label, Roc Nation.
Michael Beasley is Asher Roth
I Love College—It Made Me Popular!
Even though he left after only one season, Michael Beasley must have loved college. After all, he wasted little time leaving his mark, as he was named Big 12 Freshman and Player of the Year in his only season on campus. Aided by the chart-climbing debut single, “I Love College,” Asher Roth has become a common face in hip-hop and pop music circles alike.
During his brief stint in college, Beasley, whose middle name is Paul, was dominant enough to be one of three to grace our “Fresh to Death” cover for issue 117. One of the stepping-stones that helped the Pennsylvania native Roth gain notoriety was an appearance on XXL’s Freshmen cover in late ’08.
Lifted by Green, Backed by Experience
Once he entered the L, Beasley’s rep briefly took a, um, hit, as he was allegedly involved in the marijuana smell incident that caused Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur to be dismissed from the rookie training program. Widely regarded by peers as a jokester, Beasley didn’t let the incident hold him back as his NBA career began alongside one of the game’s best in Dwyane Wade. The notoriously goofy Roth’s The Greenhouse Effect, aided by mixtape vets DJ Drama and Don Cannon, helped the weed smoking college grad create a buzz during his rookie season. Oh, yeah, did I mention his middle name is Paul? I’m just sayin’.
Brook Lopez is Curren$y
Building a Rep
People have had their eyes on Brook Lopez for a while now, and with good reason. The Cali native is a former McDonald’s All-American and helped lead Stanford to a 3-seed as a sophomore before being selected 10th overall by the Nets. New Orleans bred MC Curren$y has been working to make a name for himself for a few years, after signing with Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment in 2005. He quickly became Weezy’s right hand man, and the two recorded a slew of collabos, including 2006’s successful “Where da Cash At,” before separating in ’07.
Find a New Sidekick
Upon entering the NBA, Lopez had to part ways with his twin brother and lifelong teammate, Robin, for the first time, but found a new friend in fellow rookie Ryan Anderson. The two teamed up for “The Brook and Ryan Show” which aired online during the season. Like Brook, Hot Spitta found a new sidekick to work with and recently released his “How Fly” mixtape with fellow up and comer Wiz Khalifa.
Danilo Gallinari is Charles Hamilton
Setting the Bar High—Briefly
As the sixth overall pick, expectations were high for Danilo—especially since he was coming to New York City. But less than a week into the season, we found out he’d be wearing street clothes for most of the remainder of the year. Charles Hamilton gained a buzz quickly thanks in part to exposure from hip-hop blog sites and the internet, but the love soon seemed to tail off due to some over exposure from hip-hop blog sites and the internet. The Sonic the Hedgehog obsessed rapper was caught on tape getting slapped by a girl and accused of taking credit for beats that weren’t his, among other alleged transgressions.
I’m Not a Stereotype
Fans were disappointed, hoping for an immediate impact from a lottery pick like Gallinari on a struggling team. Said to be healthy heading into the upcoming season, he’s still got a chance to show that he was worth the high draft pick and that he’s more than another European big who can only shoot. As for Hamilton, some were put off by his attention-grabbing antics, let down that the music began to seem secondary. But, like Danilo, Charles hopes to soon prove that the hype was not unwarranted and that he’s more than just another internet rapper, as his official debut, “This Perfect Life,” is supposedly dropping the end of this summer.