I was 15 years old when 2Pac was killed.
I was 22 years old when I finally realized that he wasn’t going to rise from the grave and release a postmortem platinum album that would change rap music forever.
So much for the “7 Day Theory”…
Until recently if you asked me who is the greatest rapper of all time, my answer would be 2Pac and that was that. I was stubborn to the point where I wouldn’t even give another great rapper credit. They weren’t 2Pac, so there was nothing to discuss. It wasn’t until last year that I let myself be consumed with the lyrical genius that is Jay-Z. I remember when my buddy told me a story about Jay-Z in the recording studio that completely changed my opinion of him.
Apparently this is how things work when Jay-Z records an album:
First he finds a beat that he likes. Then he puts his head phones on, sits in a corner by himself and focuses on that beat for about 15-20 minutes. When he’s done, he strolls into the sound booth and spits the entire song in one or two takes tops. Then they move on to the next track.
Do you have any idea how insane that is? I can’t even think of an analogy that would make sense, let alone do it justice.
After hearing that story, I had to get one of his albums. I mean, I’d heard all of his hit songs but I never really took the time to explore an entire record. So I started with The Blueprint last summer and never looked back. For the better part of a month I would turn it on and sit down with Bill Simmon’s The Book of Basketball and just fade away into my own universe. It was heaven. Before long I wanted to hear more, so I moved on to The Black Album and Reasonable Doubt. Trying to pick a favorite album from that group is like picking a favorite Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model, it’s bound to start an argument.
I was at a Lakers game earlier this season when Jay-Z was in the house. The game happened to fall on the same night as the American Music Awards, which meant there were an inordinate number of stars in the house that night. I never really realized how big of a star Jay-Z was until the following events took place:
With 9 minutes left in a blowout victory over Oklahoma City, Jay-Z gets up from his court side seat and decides it’s time to roll. As he and his crew make their way to the exit, the crowd starts to lose their mind. Guys snap photos, girls start screaming, for a brief moment everyone forgets they are still at a Lakers game. Even the players stop and watch him make his exit. At one point, Kobe walks away from the team huddle and raises up his hands to form a diamond to the sky. Jay-Z notices, then returns the hand gesture as he leaves the arena.
This all actually happened. At that moment, I knew Jay-Z was kind of a big deal.
With the playoffs starting this weekend, I thought it would be appropriate for me to channel my inner Jay-Z and dedicate one of his songs to each of the Lakers players. Every song has special relevance to the Lakers, and hopefully they will serve as a guide as they defend their title.
Without further ado, I present to you the ultimate Jay-Z playlist, dedicated to the Lakers.
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