Welcome to the first edition of "Beats, Bars & Basketball: Spittin' Image" where no, we won't be making the "j CoLe AnD ToBiAs HaRrIs LoOk aLiKe" observation over and over, but rather we shall try to draw as many parallels as we can between two respective journeys through Hip-Hop and Basketball at their highest levels. Unlike our long-form BBB features (such as this one) we'll try to keep these brief and not overthink it too much -- while also overthinking it.
Foreal though, this one is simple.
If a bonafide classic album is the rapper's version of a Larry O'Brien Trophy in the NBA, then Jadakiss and Chris Paul share the distinction of being the most respected players who don't claim either.
Unless you're somewhere weird, if you ask a group of 5 rap fans who really know their stuff who the best rapper is that doesn't have an album you can legitimately argue is a classic... Jadakiss is probably gonna be y'all's final answer. If you ask who the best NBA player in the last 15 years who hasn't won a ring --it is definitively Chris Paul.
Their eras intersect a bit, but Jadakiss released his debut with The Lox in 1998 and Chris Paul's rookie season was 7 years later in 2005. The two both experienced immediate success and critical acclaim. Some super NY heads would probably argue Jadakiss DOES have a classic album because they love the Lox's "Money, Power, Respect." To that argument I would ask "Under that logic, does Pras from the Fugees have a classic then?" There's also Chris Paul fans out there who will rank this man the #1 point guard of all time despite never winning a championship.
Regardless, The Lox blew up quick and did great things filling the void in NYC Hip-Hop left by Biggie Smalls' death. Similarly, the point gods of the generation before Paul-- like Gary Payton and John Stockton's lights were dimming just as Chris Paul's star immediately rose. Both Kiss and Chris were All-Stars from the jump. Their talent leaped off the screen and they were seen as the leaders of their respective teams, The Lox (Bad Boy) and the New Orleans Hornets. Bad Boy and The Lox's relationship fractured and broke and so did Paul and the Hornets', eventually landing the two with exciting new teams, The Ruff Ryders (the dark horse of NY Hip-Hop) and the Clippers (the dark horse of LA Basketball).
Both alongside other great players, like DMX and Blake Griffin, brought these underdog crews to high heights--but never quite reached the summit of classic albums and NBA championships. Chris Paul has too many playoff mishaps to list, but every year the Clippers were "in it"-- it just never happened. Jadakiss, much like some of the Clippers' best years, had great solo efforts with 2001's "Kiss the Game Goodbye" and 2004's "Kiss of Death," but there was always just something missing.
While both failed to break through the true pantheon of their respective games ,they also proved themselves to the fans over and over-- even without the ultimate prize. Jadakiss is one of the heaviest and most consistent features an artist can obtain in all of Hip-Hop. He makes even great MC's raise their games on every collaboration. You know he's going to deliver his brand of greatness every time. In this same way, Chris Paul has become the ultimate pace and culture setter in the league. You're basically guaranteed to win 50 games if he's on your roster and your other best players will get better. They've now shown these skills across belonging to several different teams including Jadakiss creating D-Block Records, later signing with Rocafella Records and currently back on D-Block. Chris Paul went from the Clippers to the cusp of greatness once again with Houston, a renaissance in OKC, and most recently-- his biggest and closest "almost" with the Phoenix Suns. Even if they fall short of a classic/ring they both will deserve a wild amount of respect for the longevity and extended relevance they have both experienced. You won't be able to count these two out for as long as the sneakers are laced and the mic is plugged in. But time's running out and it seems these two's legacies are set in stone...
So close but so far.
Who else I thought about: Allen Iverson may in many ways be a better comparison for Jadakiss as they are both two of the most good-in-any-hood celebrities there are. They share more of a personality vibe than Jada and Paul. AI and Jada were in an awesome Reebok campaign together, they're friends, and AI didn't win a ring either (or drop a classic album). But this one was little too literal and while I thought about Lil' Wayne for Chris Paul's comparison--its hard to argue that Wayne hasn't dropped a classic project. Jadakiss and Chris is as good as it gets. Disagree?
Hit us up on social @themsqshop (that's the Twitter too!) and let us know how you feel or if you have a better comparison. Stay tuned for more Basketball and Hip-Hop related material on "Beats, Bars, & Basketball" only at The MSQ Shop.
by: Zach Kirby