|Photo via Dreamville/Columbia|
|J. Cole wore an Alife hockey jersey for his 2014 Forest Hills Drive cover shoot.|
Rap and hockey are two worlds that rarely collide. When it comes to punch lines, Gretzky, Lemieux and Ovechkin all get less love than Jordan, Bird and James. Shit, even Drake, the world's foremost Canadian rapper, is more liable to be seen on the Raptors sidelines than cheering on the Maple Leafs.
Rhymers are digging into NHL rosters, though. When they do, it's worth taking a few moments to celebrate. Here are our ten favorite rap lyrics about hockey players. Call it two minutes for name-checking.
10) J. Cole - "Can't Get Enough"
"Won't brag, but the boy been blessed mane / Let you play with the stick -- Ovechkin"
While it'd be pretty remarkable if a rapper were to work, say, Zemgus Girgensons or Mariusz Czerkawski into their verbiage, we acknowledge that it takes some creativity to put together a rhyme for Washington Capitals dynamo Alex Ovechkin. J. Cole uses a generous amount of poetic license to juxtapose "blessed mane" with the Russian superstar's surname. Of all the shout outs to Alexander the Great (and there are quite a few, surprisingly), Cole's is the most notable just for the panache of his delivery. He drops the Ovi reference ostentatiously to brag about his (in this case, sexual) prowess, much like most rappers would lean on Michael Jordan or Julius Erving, thus putting the two sports on equal footing for the first time in the canon of hip-hop.
9) Bodega Bamz - "El-Rey"
"Chinchilla in the summer, how you fade / Don't turn into a mark for the ice like Messier"
8) Hoodie Allen - "Long Island Iced Tea"
"And you eating salad, but we will be skating through / I am Sidney Crosby, you probably ain't made it dude"
Though bro rap anagram (and Pittsburgh native) Mac Miller is more liable than any other rapper to drop a line about the Next One, Hoodie Allen's Sidney Crosby name-check deserves to be recognized. The lyric, which comes from Allen's 2009 Bagels and Beats EP, co-opts Sid the Kid to talk about the Long Island rapper's prodigious rise. You'd have a tough time arguing that the hokey millennial rhymer is an equitable talent to No. 87, but he's certainly got the swagger to go beyond the typical stable of professional athletes to make his claim.
7) Lil' Wayne - "Upgrade U Freestyle"
"Put a motherfucker on ice like the Maple Leafs / That's a hockey team,
and I ain't on no hockey team / But I'm a champion, where's the fuckin' Rocky theme?"
Lil' Wayne's seminal Da Drought 3 mixtape is full of matter-of-fact declarations like this one that references the pride of Toronto. On one song, he confesses that his favorite childhood movie was Gremlins, and it's this sort of earnest divulgence that makes his homage to hockey such goofy fun. Of course the Maples Leafs are a hockey team, and of course Weezy isn't on their roster -- and if he were, he wouldn't be a champion -- but it helps to have the clarification. Plus the Leafs have been the NHL's most profitable franchise for a decade, so it's fitting that the Young Money Millionaire finds some fellowship with the storied Canadian club, even if he has never donned the eleven-point leaf.
6) Fabolous - "Ghetto"
"They tried to put two nines on me just like Gretzky / But my lawyer saw through it just like wet tees"
Unsurprisingly, the Great One gets tabbed by rappers pretty often in their rhymes. Most of the time, when emcees evoke Gretzky, it's a pretty lazy effort (see Cam'Ron's "Horse & Carriage" or Lil' B's "Do My Job"), but few are as slick on the mic as Fabolous. On "Ghetto," one of Real Talk's better tracks, Fab dispenses with cliché to holler out Gretzky's jersey number in a sequence that contains the greatest shoutout to Pepsi Blue in hip-hop history. The verse is one small example of just how lyrical mid-2000s Fabolous was, and it's by far the best Gretzky nod ever laid to wax.Continue to page two.