Mailbag Question – Jay Z/Lil’ Wayne

Lil reader Stanley checked in recently with this question:

Q: Jay-Z has seemed to have aligned himself with LeBron James (he’s in his new video) and Lil’ Wayne made the song called “Kobe Bryant”… So who wins that battle, and what’s your take on arguably the two best rappers in the industry using the two best basketball players on the planet to sell records?
- Stanley, Valencia, CA

Any time someone can sensibly mix Jay-Z and Lil’ Wayne into a legit question, I’m compelled to answer. In fact, this topic could probably circle sports talk radio for weeks (OK, maybe a day … all right, an hour … fine, one segment). Alas, I’ll first refer to J-Peezy’s Playlist. During our 2009 Lakers Hip Hop Draft (Playlist No. 3), featuring Josh Powell and Shannon Brown with myself on the side, Lil’ Wayne went No. 1 overall (to Powell), while Jay-Z fell to No. 3 (to Brown as I took 2pac second).

“(Lil’ Wayne’s) just poppin,’,” said Powell at the time. “He’s gettin’ it in right now. I’ve been a ‘Lil Wayne fan since he was 12.”

I’d argue that while Jay-Z is the more accomplished artist at this stage (who has more hits?), the younger generation of NBA players seem to prefer Lil’ Wayne. Many, like Powell, literally grew up with him. Per your question, Stanley, the fact that Weezy not only wrote a rap about Kobe, but that it’s well-written and has a solid beat, supersedes an appearance in Jay-Z’s video from LeBron. Furthermore, Lil’ Wayne joined Kanye West to perform at L.A.’s championship party, so I’d have to say that the man from the South gets Round 1.

I’m not really sure, however, that the rappers are using the athletes to sell records; entertainers and athletes seem to envy one another’s careers and seem constantly eager to cross over. At the same time, your point is taken – it probably doesn’t hurt the record sales to go the athlete route. Thanks for the question.