24 March, 2008

Rappening is what’s Happening

I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie
to the hip hip hop, and you dont stop
the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat

Inspired by some wonderfully conjecturous news this past weekend that Birmingham forward Mikael Forssell has a triple platinum hit to his name in his homeland of Finland, and may even pursue a career in rap music once his playing days are over, here STT has rounded up some of our favourite footballers-turned-rappers. Perhaps it’s that Christian holidays bring out the Brooklyn street hustler side in all of us, or perhaps it’s just incredibly amusing to see what happens when footballers’ egos are indulged to this extent, it’s hard to say…obviously audio/video included where available…

First up then it’s everyone’s favourite Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who was apparently persuaded by good friend Nikolas Anelka that he really should bless the world with some of his prodigal MCing talent in 2005. The two of them teamed up with the apparently notorious Parisian rapper Doctor Gynaecologist (Doc Gyneco to his pals) to bang out a pretty budget charity single. And what was this ditty about you might ask? Judging by The Doc’s name you’d wager it was an explicit how-to guide for sleeping with tarts, but alas no; to use Didier’s own words, it was “just about going to school, trying to be a good person.” How boring. Drogba reportedly still records secretly for his own vaults under the name MC Drogbacite, but STT suggests that Did Droggy Drog might be better.

Perhaps closest to actually being rappers on our fine shores are the Fortune brothers, Jonathan (Charlton FC) and Clayton (Leyton Orient FC), who actually have as their cousin UK hip-hop/grime star Kano. Word on the street (i.e. Google) is that the three of them were all in a position to choose either career, yet while Jonathan and Clayton picked football, Kano apparently couldn’t be bothered with the training, so chose music instead. They have a few tracks floating around under the recording name of Family Business, but to be honest, they’re pretty embarrassing, even though by himself Kano has been known to leave the mic with third degree burns. On a slightly related note, the two Ferdinand brothers also claim to have been in a similar situation, but having chosen football, have thankfully promised to release some hard-hitting garage collaborations when they finish playing. Be afraid people, be very afraid.

Other notable contributions from this country include an absolutely tearing effort from Andrew ‘Don’t call me Andy’ Cole, working with producer The Pied Piper on a track ironically entitled Outstanding. Knowing that one tune wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the masses, Mr Cole had the sense to serve up three different mixes of Outstanding for us. Now the original’s obviously good; the Supakings Sucker-Punch mix is extra heavy; but personally it’s all about the Champions-Double-Treble mix, really goes off in a dance.

Back in his Portsmouth days, Lomana Tresor LuaLua was also known to bless the microphone on occasion, hosting down at several local nights under the clever alias of Dr Congo (he’s from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is often shortened to DR Congo, so it’s like a play on words yeah, get me), but he’s got nothing on our English joker in the pack, Peter Crouch. Obviously famous for his robot dance, the Crouching Tiger also gets pon the m.i.c. whenever the national side gets together reportedly, but so far only this footage has surfaced so far. He might not have the looks of Ini Zamoze but at least he’s got the sense to instantly call for the rewind:

Turning to genuine rap success though we must of course direct our sights outside of the UK and towards the two largest rap markets in the world, France, and of course the good old United States of Freedom. It actually puts quite a smile on my face to see that Djibril Cisse has a rap album officially out in his native country, and unsurprisingly The DJ Inside Me has been flying off the shelves since its 2006 release. You can check some samples for yourself here, and honestly it really isn’t all that bad, despite being more Fat Man Scoop than Rakim. Describing his sound as ‘afro-beat’ might have sounded like a mis-step, but he’s pretty popular these days, even catching the attention of overweight has-been Fat Joe who deemed it necessary to pimp Cisse’s ride just last year.

The most genuinely respected rapper within the football world though has to be the American Fulham hitman Clint Dempsey, who records under the name Deuce. Hailing from a poor area of South-West Texas, Deuce grew up with a couple of rappers named Big Hawk and XO, both of whom he collaborated with on this actual US chart hit, Don’t Tread on This:

Lyrically it’s not exactly all that, and the weak football puns don’t help, but again it’s not really too bad considering the level of expectation. Used as a promotional tool by Nike to raise awareness of the US’s plight during the last World Cup, Deuce’s video was unfortunately tinged with tragedy as Big Hawk was clipped just after the song hit the airwaves, reportedly over a debt owed by his brother and not as a result of the song’s quality. R.I.P. Big Hawk, you have been missed, and unsurprisingly no witnesses have come forward. The game ain’t changed but shit just done got a whole lot more REAL, believe dat.

We leave you of course then with the jewel in the crown, and what you were all waiting for. Football has produced but one true rapping superstar, and having dropping a couple of teasingly big bars at the end of New Order’s hit World in Motion, it was with the infamous Anfield Rap that John Barnes really announced himself within the hip-hop community:

Providing the inspiration for, and definitely not shamelessly ripping off, LL Cool J’s classic old school jam Rock the Bells, Barnes sent shockwaves through the rap world that are still being felt today. Rumours that Dr Dre has had to scrap his planned comeback album Detox several times in the last few years due to hearing new Barnes material are yet to be officially confirmed, but reading between the lines, it’s pretty obvious. Barnes has been behind almost every crossover hip-hop hit in the last decade, managing, producing and writing for all the big hitters, while also providing them with the chronic connection, seen. Finally the truth came out earlier this year when having been repeatedly badgered as to who provided the complex ghost-writing behind his 2007 smash Smack Dat, Akon admitted at last that it was Barnes, and that he was back on the scene, ready to “rip shit up” to use his words…