Candice Wiggins connects West Coast hip-hop and the NBA.
We first took notice of Candice “Ice” Wiggins when she was in the midst of destroying college competition while leading Stanford to a National Championship game. Three WNBA season later, the 23-year-old has shown herself to be one of the top females currently handling the rock. And now, while rehabbing a ruptured achilles tendon, Wiggins has shown herself to be a dope writer, too. With all that in mind, we asked her to keep a SLAMonline blog. And she graciously agreed. So for the next few months, between hitting Stanford’s library–where she’s back doing the school thing–and hitting rehab, Ice will be holding us down. For that we say, Thanks!–Ed.
by Candice Wiggins | @Candice Wiggins
One of the more frustrating aspects of being a fan of the NBA is when your favorite player barely loses the Most Improved Award. How do you measure that?!
Okay, here’s another question: Who’s the most underrated player? If there was an award for most underrated in the NBA or WNBA, who do you think should/would win it?
Thus begins the Great Debate.
But I’m not talking about basketball; I want to switch over into the world of hip-hop music. I grew up in San Diego, CA, and I also spent a lot of time with my family in Altadena, CA. Being a native of the Southern California region, I grew up listening to West Coast hip-hop. Consequently, I saw Snoop Dogg the same way I saw Barney the dinosaur. It’s that serious. I love West Coast music the way surfers love the beach, the way Notre Dame loves Rudy and the way East-Coasters are trained to love Biggie more than Tupac.
If there were awards for the West Coast rappers, I think I’d be a great one-woman selection committee. So, based on my childhood memories and current love of hip-hop music deriving from Southern California, here’s my official list of “League Honors,” as awarded in the NBA. Enjoy!*
2Pac as MVP of the West Coast scene is as obvious a choice as choosing Michael Jordan as MVP in the 1995-96 NBA season. I already know what everybody’s going to say too: “Pac’s not from Southern California!!” I know, I know. Trust me I know. I’ve heard it all: 2pac was born on the East Coast, blah blah blah. I’m going to just summarize the MVP choice with one line from his most famous and beloved song, “California Love.” Dr. Dre, featured on the track, states it so eloquently and simple: “It’s all good, from Diego to the Bay/ Your city is the bomb if your city makin’ pay.” The end.
Coach of the Year: Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre as a coach? I find it fitting. With his experience in the game as a rapper, and his dominance as what I believe him to be: the greatest producer of all time. (Come on Dre, pleaseeeee release “Detox” soon!!) He’s coached us all through the years, on how to make a dope beat, and how to do it the way you want to. I remember listening to the song “The Watcher” for the first time and being re-mesmerized all over again. Dr. Dre is always going to be the head coach of the West Coast music scene in my eyes. And if you need to know why, just listen to “Hello” or even “Forgot About Dre.” Phil Jackson who?
Defensive Player of the Year: The Game
Here’s why The Game gets the Defensive Award: You got to hand it to this guy, he’s had to defend his name, his talent and his image for years and years. He’s got resiliency. He’s almost become like a scrappy basketball player, but one that is talented, and I kind of admire his passion. Say what you want, but “Wouldn’t Get Far” is a dope song, and the music video as well. I also like his collaboration with Nas in “Hustlers.” He’s got lots of great songs, actually. He gets this award for constantly defending his image so much from the naysayers. (I am still confused about the butterfly/L.A. tattoo though…) Maybe he’s the “Ron Artest” of the West Coast hip-hop scene? I don’t know.
6th Man of the Year: Nate Dogg
Throughout the history of West Coast hip-hop, no player comes “off the bench” better than Nate Dogg. He’s essentially become the “hook man” for everybody (not just West Coast), and has contributed many of his vocals on the artists of the West Coast’s tracks. I love Nate Dogg. He’s what the West Coast needs: a very powerful, yet different counterbalance to the gangsta rappers usually heard. He even made an appearance recently on The Boondocks Season two, in the episode “The Story of Thugnificent.” Nate Dogg is clutch!
Sportsmanship Award: Jayo Felony/Nick Cannon
Had to give this award to the two San Diego-native rappers that I grew up listening to. We in San Diego get overshadowed by everything pertaining to hip-hop because of the big heavy hitters up in LA. But here’s why I say these guys: Jayo Felony had the one popular hit “Whatcha Gonna Do?” back in 1998, and the thing I loved most about the song was that he had DMX and Method Man with him on the track. I mean, that’s true sportsmanship in my opinion, sharing the glory with two other rappers that will essentially steal most of the shine. He became a legend in my eyes.
And then there’s Nick Cannon, San Diego native and a very infamously famous rapper. All I have to say is: Nick Cannon, you’re a great sport! And I don’t care what anyone says, I love “Gigolo,” “Feelin’ Freaky“, and “I Need A Dimepiece.” Listen to them; the songs aren’t bad! I can definitely never hear “Your Pops Don’t Like Me” again and be perfectly fine, though. Bad move. But, two great sports in the game, and two San Diegans!
Executive of the Year: Aftermath/Death Row
Most Improved Player: Warren G
I have to say this because I think people only associate Warren G with the 1994 classic “Regulate” (which of course is his claim to fame). But I want to say that he has actually evolved from the G Funk Era that was going on in the mid ’90s. My brother, Alan, is a fellow West Coast hip-hop lover as well, and he essentially put me on to all these guys. (So shout out to my big bro, Alan! Viva la hip hop music WEST COAST!) One of Alan and my favorite albums of all time is The Return of the Regulator, released in 2001. The songs still have the old school Warren G, but this time it’s different, improved. There’s something so awesome about that.
All-Star Game MVP: Snoop Dogg
Finals MVP: DJ Quik
Finally, the Finals MVP: DJ Quik. My favorite rapper/producer of ALL TIME. The man who “gave [the homie 2Pac] a beat” (as heard from 2pac in his “Heartz of Men” song in the classic All Eyez on Me album). DJ Quik is actually the one who started this whole blog post for me. He’s just awesome in my opinion. From his own songs, to his features with other artists, to his production, to just his overall swag, he embodies the whole West Coast vibe. He’s from “C-o-m-p-t-o-n, flossin the proper buzz.” He’s the producer that explains the significance of his beat on his OWN track that he created: “This beat is for your Uncle and Aunt. It’s old enough to be dope, but young enough to be hot.” And he’s right. The music he creates is old enough to be dope, but young enough to be hot and that’s what makes him the Most Valuable Player in my mind. Congratulations DJ Quik, I hope this award is repeated year after year!
Rookie of the Year: _____
Okay, so this is the one award that I won’t comment on, because I’m curious to know what your opinions are! All the West Coast hip-hop lovers out there, you let me know who you think it is. And I’m going to give all regions the opportunity to “rep yo city”….and tell me about the Rookie rappers from your hometown! You can tell me on my Facebook fanpage or Twitter me @candicewiggins on who YOU think the Rookie of the Year of your region is! “Like the sweet sound of hip music, there’ll always be something NEW!!”
*All the choices were carefully thought out and go by the same principles used to choose the NBA awards. I take West Coast hip-hop music very seriously.