Interview 1: Doctor Harrison and Jemele Hill
Note: This interview with Jemele Hill was conducted before the helicopter crash and tragic death of Kobe and his daughter Gigi.
Interview 2: Reggie and Bun B
Interview 3: Reggie and Fat Joe
Interview 4: Reggie and IDK
The above conversations demonstrate some key themes with the intersectionality of hip-hop culture(s) and sport. The above interviews give us participant–observer–creators in “real time” in the area in which this special issue is focused. First, these interviews, conversations, and dialogues with cultural influencers like the individuals in this section are unique—this is one of the first instances that these kinds of identities have ever been presented in an academic journal on sport and/or hip-hop, which is important in terms of privileging and representing voices that are often marginalized or discounted in academic discourse. Future research should examine in-depth how education, politics, business, and so on land in the “sweet spot” of hip-hop and sport.
Second, generational hip-hop preferences are clearly transparent across the era of which artists and athletes coexist which is also apparent in this section. This phenomenon is prevalent beyond hip-hop and present with other genres such as country, R&B, Rock-n-Roll. For instance, NBA great Bill Walton was closely tied to the group The Grateful Dead, and today, many White athletes have grown-up on hip-hop being mainstreamed, which resulted in many of their favorite artists being Black. Generationally, Professor Emeritus Harry Edwards often assigned the autobiography of Miles Davis to his sociology of sport course at University of California, Berkeley, as this music legend was of his era when Jazz was at its peak. Parallel to Dr. Edwards, while at the University of Michigan, the author Harrison continued this trend, assigning Michael Eric Dyson’s book on Tupac Shakur to C. K. Harrison’s sport management and communication race relations, cultural images, and sport course to further highlight the intersection of sport and music. Future research related to the topic of this special issue should examine other intersectional dynamics and contexts of sport and hip-hop, particularly across generations and, indeed, geographic landscapes. One popular show that integrates various generations across artists and athletes is The Shop: Uninterrupted produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter. The show also includes business leaders, actors, and other cultural influencers that all coalesce around the concept of being an elite performer at their craft regardless of race or gender.
Third, more investigation is needed about the intersectionality of hip-hop culture(s) and sport. Globally, we need to know more about youth, gender, sexuality, race, class, and performance. As Jemele Hill alluded to in her interview, we need to hear and privilege the voices of women in the conversation of sport and hip-hop. There are so many fruitful and potential insights from this exchange, and even in North America, we have only scratched the surface with how these two performance cultures relate to one another. For example, during the pre-events and various media gatherings to discuss the global spectacle in 2018 (the Super Bowl), former NFL star Deion Sanders asked hip-hop artist and entrepreneur Rick Ross to name what positions some rap artists might play, and here is a list of his responses to Deion Sanders stating that “Rick you know about football, you know a lot about sports, and you know a lot about people—and you played the game”:
- Lil Wayne Running Back (RB)
- Jay-Z Quarterback (QB)
- Meek Mill Wide Receiver (WR)
- Migos Running Back (RB)
- TI Cornerback (CB)
- Rick Ross (Center)
In the final analysis, Rick Ross illuminates one of the major purposes of this special issue and this last section of interviews: Hip-Hop culture(s) and sport impact the societal landscape individually, and collectively, and there is serious crossover when examining the parallels of each. Artists and athletes at their core are elite performers (ballers) and there is a mutual admiration and respect that each pays one another most of the time for their public persona and being at the top of their game.
Michael Smith was an ESPN host and commentator for 15 years, and cohosted ESPN SC6 with Jemele Hill, as well as the His & Hers podcast.
The authors thank Delaney Chariker (University of Central Florida) for transcribing Jemele Hill’s interview and also thank Jasmyn Mackell (University of Central Florida) and Danielle McArdle (Seton Hall University) for their assistance with editing previous drafts of this article.