7 Iconic Songs Written About Athletes
Sports and music go hand-in-hand. Pro athletes like LeBron James are debuting hip-hop tracks on social media accounts before the artists themselves have even released them to the public. If you’re an up-and-coming artist and a popular athlete gets behind your music, you’re in for a good career. But what about when an artist gets behind an athlete? Let’s find out.
“Kobe Bryant” by Lil Wayne
Arguably the best rap song written about an athlete, Weezy’s “Kobe Bryant” dropped back in 2009 as part of his mixtape Tear Drop Tune 2. As a basketball super fan, it was no surprise to anyone that Wayne made a track about the Black Mamba. Complete with an intro featuring snippets of an interview with Kobe as well as a loud rant from Stephen A. Smith, the track reads like a report about Bryant’s NBA career.
With lyrics like “Yeah I drops 40 on your double team/Then I drop 81 on another team,” Lil Wayne pays tribute to the future Hall-of-Famer in the most Lil Wayne way possible.
“Michael Jordan” by Five for Fighting / Kendrick Lamar / Lil Uzi Vert
When you’re the most famous NBA player – well, athlete – of all-time, you’re going to have a lot of songs written about you. Three famous songs simply titled “Michael Jordan” were released within the last 18 years. We’ll quickly look at all of ’em.
“Michael Jordan,” a track featured on Five for Fighting’s second studio album America Town, detailed frontman Vladimir John Ondrasik III and his willingness to give up all his possessions – including his priceless piano – for the chance to be Michael Jordan.
West Coast rapper (and Black Panther soundtrack curator!) Kendrick Lamar released his song about “His Airness” back in 2010. Featured on his album Overly Dedicated, the song includes a brilliant verse from Schoolboy Q, and highlights his one-time dream of being like Mike and playing in the NBA before eventually heeding the call of the rap game.
A self-proclaimed rock star, Lil Uzi Vert has been on an upwards trajectory in the music industry for a few years now. Back in 2016, the Philly-based artist released his Jordan track. In it, he compares his pre-mature GOAT (Greatest of All Time) status to that of number 23’s. It’s a short but sweet(?) song that doesn’t get talked about much considering he’s released much more popular tracks since then.
“Song for Sonny Liston” by Mark Knopfler
As a lover of classic rock (thanks, Dad), I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to shout out one of the all-time best songs written about an athlete. Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler released his 2004 album Shangri-La with a fantastic tribute to boxer Sonny Liston.
The rock ballad plays out like a biography of the trouble boxer’s life, detailing his family issues, his success as a heavyweight champion, and ultimately, his death from drug use (although some claim a different cause). The song is wonderful, and it showcases both Liston’s amazing life and Knopfler’s songwriting prowess. Give it a listen.
“Ric Flair Drip” by 21 Savage, Offset, Metro Boomin
Okay, so this song is more about the Hall-of-Fame wrestler’s iconic style than his actual athletic career, but it’s certainly a tribute to Ric Flair nonetheless. As three of 2018 hip-hop’s most popular artists, Offset, 21 Savage, and producer Metro Boomin teamed up for this club hit that pays homage to a level of style and swag that few besides Ric Flair (and these three artists) can pull off.
The lyrics, “Ric Flair drip go ‘woo’ on a b****/Fifty-seven ninety split the coupe on my wrist” will absolutely get stuck in your head and you’ll never be the same after watching Ric Flair, himself, dance to them in the must-see music video. Stop reading now and take three minutes to watch it. I’ll wait…
“Auston Matthews” by SVDVM ft. Xuave, Black Iri$h
Rounding out the list is the track that I stumbled upon one night which resulted in my pitch for this article. Back during Toronto Maple Leafs wunderkind Auston Matthews’ rookie season – one that began with him scoring four goals in his NHL debut – a Canadian hip-hop artist known as SVDVM put all his support behind the teenager, releasing a song simply titled “Auston Matthews.”
In the song, the rappers boast about the hockey player’s iconic NHL debut, building a hook around the lyrics “hit ‘em with the four like Auston Matthews.” It’s a pretty basic hip-hop track besides that, with talking points ranging from making money to drinking to expensive jewelry. It’s about what you’d expect but you can’t deny that it’s a nice tribute to the best hockey player in Toronto.
There you have ’em. Seven iconic songs written about athletes, but there are plenty of others out there. Check out “Wayne Gretzky” by punk band Goldfinger if you want a laugh, and “Magic Johnson” by Red Hot Chili Peppers if you’re interested in singer Anthony Kiedis’ Laker fanaticism. And as always, keep checking SeatGeek for all your sports and event ticketing needs.
(Cropped image courtesy MGoBlog via Flickr.)