Since Shaq Diesel’s reign in 1993, the NBA has become synonymous with hip-hop. Drake has been dubbed the “greatest fake NBA coach ever”, Chief Keef named one of his songs after Lakers’ veteran Kobe Bryant and Stephen Curry has been name-dropped in a slew of rap lyrics. On the other hand, a number of ballers have expressed their admiration for the genre, often arriving in the form of a song or even a full album (a la Damian Lillard).
In celebration of the hotly anticipated 2016-2017 NBA season, which kicks off today, (Oct. 25), here’s a list of NBA players who’ve pursued a rap career.
1. Tony Parker
The San Antonio Spurs point guard tested the rap waters back in 2007 when he released the full-length LP album TP, which featured R&B singer Jamie Foxx and French rapper Soprano. The album was comprised entirely of French lyrics.
2. Kobe Bryant
“What I live for? Basketball, beats and broads,” the Black Mamba rapped in his song “Kobe” featuring supermodel Tyra Banks. While Bryant has been credited for helping the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships over his 20-year career, his foray into rap was short-lived.
It’s been 20 years since Shaq’s 1996 film Kazaam, where he played a wide-grinned, charismatic rapping genie to an introvert child with daddy issues. But long before the world knew of Kazaam, Shaq unveiled his rhyming skills with the 1993 release of his debut album Shaq Diesel, which hit No. 25 on the Billboard 200 and went certified platinum, his most successful album to date (yes, there were three more).
4. Metta World Peace
The Lakers forward formerly known as Ron Artest released the My World album in 2006 and has continued his attempts to prove he can exist in the rap game. Since then, MWP — who recently re-signed with the Lakers — has released multiple singles and already dropped two albums Metta-tation: Streets and Ball and Diamond Wave this year.
5. Lou Williams
Lou Williams dabbled in hip-hop quite a few times since stepping onto the scene after his Philadelphia 76ers debut. He freestyled over Meek Mill’s “I’ma Boss” single and was featured on the Philly native’s song “I Want It All.” After Desiigner‘s hit “Panda” blew up on airwaves in 2016, the Lakers shooting guard delivered his own rendition of the song.
“I’ve been rapping since I was my brother’s youngin’/ Battles on the corner had to end with punches,” Shumpert rhymes in his remix of Drake and Future‘s single “Jumpman.” Shumpert’s interest in rap is no new phenomenon — he dropped his own mixtape, Th3 #Post90s, in 2012 and continues to dish out new material like this year’s “His Story.”
7. Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard introduced his rap moniker, Dame D.O.L.L.A, to the world after showing off his rapping chops during a fiery freestyle for Sway In The Morning. Dame D.O.L.L.A dropped his debut album, The Letter O, on Oct. 21 and recruited several artists from Lil Wayne and Jamie Foxx to Marsha Ambrosius and Juvenile. With his latest release, Dame Lillard proves he’s a promising talent both on and off the court.