2 Chainz’s latest album, Rap or Go to the League, has garnered impressive reviews and is an early contender for rap album of the year, but the most impressive part about this project is that LeBron James A&R’d it.
LeBron’s credited influence on an album is long overdue, considering the internet has already nicknamed him “A&R Bron” for being a music connoisseur on social media by sharing preview snippets of songs that big-name artists like Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Big Sean often send him in advance. LeBron’s ear for recognizing a potential hit song before it actually becomes a hit has made him a coveted cosign by hip-hop artists and turned him into an enjoyable critic for the culture.
Hoopers infiltrating rap music, though, has been occurring long before LeBron. As early as the 1990s, hip-hop and the NBA have been pop culture’s addictive one-two punch. Maybe one day LeBron will create an athletes-only type distribution deal with Def Jam or Roc Nation. This is something Jay-Z and LeBron should really consider; after all, Witness Records does have a nice ring to it. Until then, here are some hoopers who have lit up the booth over the past few decades, helping pave the way for LeBron to become an influential music gatekeeper.