“Everyone I know, the people that have Twitter, they say, ‘Oh your Twitter is hilarious, oh it’s great,’” Embiid tells Billboard. “When I had the surgery, I couldn’t do anything. I was just laying in bed all day. I figured, Twitter was my activity.”
Music is at the forefront of Embiid’s strong Twitter game: an avowed hip-hop fan, the NBA rookie is constantly sounding off on his favorite songs and artists, and using Chris Brown’s “Loyal” as the basis of a weekly Twitter series.
“When I was still back in Cameroon, because I didn’t know English, I used to listen to French rap all the time, and then a little bit of American hip-hop,” Embiid explains. “And then when I got to the States, that’s when I really got into all those guys — Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, all those guys. My favorite used to be Lil Wayne, but now I think it’s Rick Ross or Drake.
“Before games and sometimes practice, I like something with a dope beat,” Embiid continues. “Like Rick Ross, when he’s just like, ‘RUH!,’ all that stuff. That’s what I love before games. I can’t listen to Drake before games, [but] Rick Ross gets you hyped. And I would say some Lil Wayne songs, a couple of Jay Z songs, French Montana, Meek Mill also. I like Meek Mill a lot. I listen to ‘Dreams & Nightmares’ introduction a lot. I always act crazy when the beat drops.”
Another favorite of Embiid: Bobby Shmurda. In late August, Embiid changed his official Twitter name to Joel “Shmurda” Embiid and started tweeting about the Shmoney Dance, his love of the rapper’s rising Hot 100 anthem “Hot N—a” running deep enough to make the injured center get up and move.
“Every time I hear the song, I’m just like, ‘Shmoney daaance!’” Embiid exclaims. “It doesn’t matter where I’m at. Even if I’m just on the street, I don’t care. I just start doing the shmoney dance.” The shmoney dance has also helped Embiid bond with his new Sixers teammates: “Whenever Bobby Shmurda comes on, everyone would just want to do the shmoney dance. I think that’s something we all like.”
However, Embiid’s Twitter jokes have occasionally gotten him in some (relatively) hot water. In mid-July, he fired off this tweet to Kim Kardashian:
Although the message received 25,000 retweets, it was also sent to a married woman, a fact unbeknownst to Embiid at the time. “I tweeted at her, and then one or two of my friends texted me and a lot of people on Twitter were like, ‘Oh, she’s married to Kanye [West]!’” Embiid recalls. “I was like, ‘Oops! I gotta make sure to tweet that I didn’t know she was married.’” He hastily followed the DMs offer with an apology:
Later, Embiid raised some eyebrows when he called Nicki Minaj’s record-breaking, booty-popping “Anaconda” music video “trash” on Twitter; three weeks later, he still stands by the assertion. “I mean, all the dancing, all that stuff was cool — but I think the music, personally, I don’t think it was a good one,” he says of the “Anaconda” clip. “The dancing and stuff, I think that’s what got other people so excited … She’s got a big butt, and she uses it well. And she uses it well to mess with people!”
Embiid wants his followers to know that they shouldn’t take his tweets too seriously — especially when they involve Rihanna. The Barbadian singer is a recurring character in his Twitter stream, and while he has commented about having a “great dream” about her and tweeted the lyrics to “Rude Boy,” Embiid professes that he is not in love with the singer.
“No no, it’s not like that. I’m just messing,” he says in between laughs. “I’m not trying to date her. I’m just messing.”