After Drake and Future entitled their 2015 collaborative mixtape “What A Time To Be Alive“, those six words sort of became a preeminent slogan for millennials and hip-hop culture. No other phrase better encapsulates the sports and hip-hop zeitgeists in which HHSR has existed for the past five years.
This website’s debut column was posted on August 13, 2012. The subject: how hip-hop culture had overtly infused itself into the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Since then, these two worlds have blessed us with some of the most incredible stories and finest moments imaginable.
Above all else, the world has changed. Social media continues to grow into an uncontrollable juggernaut; Instagram was still new in 2012, Snapchat barely existed. We also didn’t have a game show host, who used social media largely as a forum to persecute and bellyache, sitting in the Oval Office.
Hip-Hop has undergone changes nobody would’ve seen coming a half-decade ago. Rick Ross was exonerated in a court of law, and a court of public opinion, of stealing the identity of another man (even though he did). Forget The Fat Boys, we’ve seen Jay and Ye split up. Wayne and Birdman, too. Migos nearly single-handedly brought back the rap group. Chicago Drill Music gave way to Southern Mumble Rap (or its perceived existence anyway)—old heads were vexed nonetheless.
Nicki Minaj became a superstar, essentially carrying the female rap game over the lifespan of this site, until recently. Remy Ma, Young MA and former reality star Cardi B (who may have the hottest record of the summer) are all coming for Nicki’s spot. Her Young Money running mate Drake fulfilled all of the promises we were given, becoming a certified megastar, and crippling Meek Mill’s promising career in the process. From Thank Me Later through Views, his albums and mixtapes have gone platinum 15 times! His latest work, More Life, has “only” sold 343,000 copies in the U.S. as of July 2017, however that same project demolished numerous streaming records. If that weren’t enough, this may be the dumbest accomplishment of them all.
Our whole perception of record sales has changed. Jay Z shifted the paradigm with his Magna Carta Holy Grail/Samsung deal, then did it again with a 4:44/Sprint partnership. Oh, he also purchased his own streaming service and launched Tidal in 2015. Everything is streaming now—Apple Music didn’t exist in 2012 either. Meanwhile, Hov’s protégé J. Cole went platinum with a 10-track, 44 minute album with no features and no lead single.
In spite of releasing only two albums in the last five years, Jay Z’s imprint on music is still unmistakable. We all lived vicariously through his relationship with Queen Bey — elevator fights and all — and witnessed the decline and resurrection of this all-time great emcee. And with releases like 4:44, Nas’ Life Is Good, Scarface’s Deeply Rooted and Jadakiss’ Top 5 Dead Or Alive, the older generation is proving they still have game to kick.
Since 2012, we’ve also seen the career unfold of a man who has the potential to be one of the best ever seen. Two months into HHSR’s existence, Kendrick Lamar dropped his major label debut good kid, m.A.A.d. city, an instant classic that helped revive West Coast rap. Since then, you can’t even mention hip-hop without mentioning Kendrick. His disses have paralyzed the rap game; his verses are spellbinding; his live performances are mythical; his LPs are remarkable, both in creativity and execution. This run in rap music, of which Kendrick has carried the anchor leg since 2012, is surpassed only by what we’ve seen in the world of sports.
The games alone are staggering: Clemson/Alabama, Villanova/North Carolina, Mississippi State/UConn Women’s Basketball, the “Kick Six” Iron Bowl, Game 7 Cubs/Indians, Game 6 Heat/Spurs 2013, Game 7 Cavs/Warriors, Pats/Seahawks and Pats/Falcons—they’ll still be talking about these games a hundred years from now.
You can’t have the greatest games without some of the greatest athletes. We’ve been privileged to see several athletes could very well be the GOAT in their respective sports at the peak of their powers. Brady, Serena, Bolt, Phelps, LeBron, Messi, Mayweather, Federer, Katie Ledecky and Jon Jones—it’ll be a long time before we see a collection of athletes of this magnitude at their apex simultaneously.
Looking for legendary moments and performances? Westbrook just averaged a triple-double, Madison Bumgarner became the pitcher’s answer to Reggie Jackson in 2014, Ezekiel Elliott carried the Buckeyes to a National Championship (with the help of a third string quarterback), the Warriors won 73 games, horse racing and baseball’s triple-crowns were won for the first time since the 1970s and ’60s respectively, and Peyton Manning smashed all the passing records in 2013.
LeBron went home. Durant left Russ. Ray Rice happened, then Deflategate happened, then Colin Kaepernick happened. The city of Cleveland AND the Chicago Cubs broke their championship curses in the same year! Repeat: The city of Cleveland AND the Chicago Cubs broke their championship curses in the same year! Truly, the impossible was made possible in sports these last five years.
Personally, my life is completely different. Since August 11, 2012, I’ve gotten a new job and moved to a new state, earned two promotions and then another new job. I’ve gotten engaged, then married, then had my first child. I then purchased my first house. My entire immediate family departed our home town to move out West. I’m practically a completely different person—HipHopSportsReport.com is one of the few major components of my life that has remained consistent, and we’ve even undergone a metamorphosis here.
We’ve added two valuable members to our team, launched two podcasts (shouts to all of our guests!), revamped the website, created a logo, gotten our own podcast theme music, expanded our social media reach, shot videos, and collaborated with many other talented young writers and voices. This, all while continuously cranking out content that you hopefully found thoughtful, unique, accurate and entertaining.
All this is to say the following: Nothing has been more fun than sharing all that the last five years has brought us with you. So much can change in five years, but it’s cool for some stuff to remain consistent, too. I am thankful for each of our viewers, listeners, fans, followers, subscribers, writers and anyone who has contributed to making this experience possible. To all who believe in me, my abilities and my dream, thank you. Wherever this journey takes us, know that in spite of all the work involved, I’m having a blast writing and podcasting for you. With any luck, we’ll be working on a 10-year anniversary column soon enough.