June 02, 2010
With the possible exception of Ayn Rand's Rush-inspiring 1938 novella, it's universally accepted that anthems are great fun, both to create and to hear. In "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," Jay-Z opined that anthems can spur us to throw our damn hands up; several years later, Maryland-based bummers Good Charlotte did the same, except with guitars, guyliner and pretending to be friends with guys like Jay-Z.
When you add sports into the equation, though, the anthem thing can get tricky (I think we're all still struggling with how we relate to Gary Glitter), especially when the anthem is intended to promote or rally the fanbase of a specific team. From "official" creations like the Chicago Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle" and the Atlanta Hawks' "Nothing Can Stop Us" to the independent Indianapolis Colts rhapsodizin' of Lil' Ronnie and Syracuse Orange fans' cringe-inducing '03 effort "Cuse Yourself," there are way, way more anthem failures than success stories. (Want to hear some more negative examples? Uproxx gotcha.)
Which is why it was so refreshing to hear, via Boston hip-hop blog Jump the Turnstyle, that Cambridge, Mass.-based crew N.B.S. (Natural Born Spitters) had dropped a Boston Celtics-themed NBA Finals anthem that didn't, y'know, stink.
On the track called "Who Are We?," N.B.S. MCs Flash and Knuckles keep things original, fresh, short and — for all those concerned about PG-13 language — 100 percent clean, tracing the C's path through the east, praising the team's key contributors and rotation players, and flipping a strong "Beat L.A." sample a couple of times for good measure. Plus, they threw in a "Scalabrine, we see you, man" at around the 2:35 mark, shouting out one of the Celtics' ablest breakers and, as The Basketball Jones famously showed us, its fiercest rhymer (now there's the PG-13 language).
Not to be outdone, the new Los Angeles Lakers' 2010 finals anthem put together by L.A. hip-hop DJ Felli Fel (via The Lakers Nation) includes higher-profile artists like Chino XL, Ray J, the New Boyz and headliner Ice Cube (little bit of PG-13 language here too).
Unfortunately for those big-timers the song is pretty outdone, because it's six mostly underwhelming minutes of lackadaisical verses laid over the completely overused "Beamer, Benz or Bentley" beat, closed out by a verse from a dude named Lil Rob who seriously sounds kind of like if Konnan from the nWo was a rapper. There are a couple of decent lines, I guess — Chino comparing Rajon Rondo(notes) to Smeagol from "Lord of the Rings," Ice Cube making fun of Paul Pierce(notes) needing his wheelchair and calling Larry Bird an "overrated nerd" (c'mon, son) — but mostly, it's just three times as long as "Who Are We?" and half as interesting.
Obviously, L.A.'s got a super proud and rich hip-hop tradition. But in this case, heading into Game 1, they took an L from a couple of the Boston underground's best. There's still time to redeem yourself, Westsiders. Maybe get Snoop and Crooked I on a shelved "Detox" beat, and then we can get the finals started properly.