Rapper J. Cole’s Short Basketball Career Joins a Long Legacy of Unlikely Crossovers | Music

It was quite strange pairing to start.

On May 10, North Carolina hip-hop artist J. Cole announced that he had been signed with the Rwanda Patriots of the Basketball Africa League, a team that was looking for ways to make a name for itself on the scene. international.

The plan worked, at least in the short term. The ‘No Role Modelz’ rapper graced the cover of basketball’s elite SLAM magazine, the first musician to do so. It also generated publicity for its May 14 release. the off-season, whose cover shows the rapper standing in front of a burning basketball hoop. Meanwhile, the Rwanda Patriots have been featured on YouTube videos which have racked up over a million views.

The wrong side? In the first three games, in which Cole was on the court for 45 minutes, he scored just five points, five rebounds and three assists. Failing to set the pitch on fire, Cole bid farewell to Rwanda after Game 3, blaming his departure on unspecified “family obligations”.

A regular on the celebrity basketball circuit, Cole has clearly raised the profile of the Rwanda Patriots. But the company also made him an easy target. Basketball Africa League player Terrell Stoglin called Cole’s involvement “disrespectful to the game”, while a May 27 dead spin headline proclaimed “J. Cole’s professional basketball career is over – it should never have started.

Still, the retired Patriots star can at least take heart in the fact that his music career is far from over. The off-season debuted at No. 1. and spawns hit singles left and right. Cole can also take comfort in the fact that he’s joined a curious collection of celebrities who have tried to cross the line between music and sports, albeit usually in the opposite direction.

Take, for example, former world No. 1 tennis player John McEnroe. Like Spice Girl husband David Beckham, McEnroe married pop music royalty, sharing his wedding vows with former Scandal singer Patty Smyth.

Of course, he could have continued to berate referees, chastise fans, and treat his tennis racket the way Pete Townshend treated his guitars. But where is the fun in that?

Instead, McEnroe, who says Eddie Van Halen and Eric Clapton taught him how to play the guitar, has turned his celebrity relationships into a relatively low-key career. He regularly joined his wife on stage, appeared on a Chrissie Hynde track, and formed a band with Australian tennis player Pat Cash called the Full Metal Rackets.

Then there’s Jack Johnson, the millennial answer to Jimmy Buffett, whose music lets you practically hear the waves crashing and feel the sun shine.

Hailing from the North Shore of Hawaii, Johnson was 17 when he became the youngest competitor to reach the Pipe Masters Trials final in Maui. But a week after the announcement, Johnson was significantly wiped out, suffering head injuries that required 150 stitches.

The result was a career change, which turned out not to be such a bad thing. Johnson went on to score three No. 1 albums in just five years.

Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, meanwhile, has emerged as a rock celebrity renaissance man. In addition to singing with one of the greatest metal bands in rock history, he also flew Iron Maiden’s “Ed Force One” plane on world tours and, according to the Daily mail, was once ranked 7th fencer in Britain.

“He’s awesome,” 2012 Summer Olympics silver medalist Bartosz Piasecki told a Norwegian newspaper after beating Dickinson in a celebrity fencing match. “He’s small but incredibly fast, that’s his weapon…He looked like Rocky when he arrived in a maroon dress with his fencing kit in a shoulder bag.”

There are more, of course.

Among the most impressive is Shaquille O’Neal, who dabbled in rap in the late ’90s with four albums. The beginnings of Shaq, Shaq Diesel, was certified platinum, while its successors Shaq Fu: Da Return, You Can’t Stop Da Reign and Respect everything went well Billboardthe R&B charts.

Then came boxer Oscar De La Hoya, who released his own self-titled debut album in 2000. A collection of Latin pop, it included Spanish-language renditions of songs written by Diane Warren and the Bee Gees, and ended up being nominated for a Grammy.

Meanwhile, a year after the Boston Red Sox made it to the 2004 World Series, pitcher Bronson Arroyo recorded Cover the basics, an album featuring semi-acoustic covers of Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog and Stone Temple Pilots.

Last but perhaps not least, hockey player Guy Lafleur caught the end of the disco movement with a self-titled 1979 album that attempted to combine the dancefloor genre with Lafleur’s self-help storytelling.

So, did J. Cole’s short stint with the Rwanda Patriots knock professional basketball out of his system, once and for all? It’s hard to say.

According to rap impresario Master P — who fulfilled his own basketball dreams playing preseason games with the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors — Cole may ultimately be aiming for the NBA.

“When I spoke to J. Cole,” Master P told TMZ Sports after the two taped a Puma commercial last year, “he was like, ‘You know, big dog, you did it. . What do you think I should do to make this happen? I said, ‘To get one of these NBA jerseys, it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a lot of hate, it’s going to be a lot of people not believing in you.'”

So far, Cole has gotten all of that and more.

“You can’t go because you’re J. Cole the artist,” Master P told him. “Nobody cares. And these NBA players don’t want someone who’s going to make them look bad. So you have to prove yourself, because they put their whole life into it. Either you’re going to be good enough to play, or you’re going to be exposed.

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