On Valentine’s Day, the original god emcee Rakim, or whomever runs the joint Twitter account with his old partner Eric B., dropped a now-deleted tweet excoriating contemporary popular hip-hop music.

Rakim thegrio.com

The tweet might as well have come from me after listening to Born 2 Ball, the new album (mixtape?) from Zo, aka Lonzo Ball, current Los Angeles Laker and member of the infamous Ball family. Zo essentially made a trap-rap album, which, to me, is indistinguishable from all the other countless trap albums adorning the spin-class playlists of Sarahs and Kaitlins across the nation.

It’s like Zo spun an arrow on a game board for every verse and rapped about whatever it landed on: Ice on the neck, chicks dropping their panties, “grind like me,” triplicate flow, ultra-repetitive hook, rinse, wash and repeat for 17 tracks. I suppose it’s possible Zo may somehow be better than other trap rappers, but my old grandpa ears can’t tell the difference. I know I’m certainly not surprised that a 20-year-old who wore this blasphemous shit and said this blasphemous shit created something so sonically forgettable.  

Born 2 Ball features whole songs designed to promote The Big Baller Brand; “BBB” and “ZO2” are basically commercials that you can buy on iTunes. Combined with a final track named “LaVar” that honors his colorful, loudmouthed paterfamilias, LaVar Ball, it feels like daddy’s foot was on the gas with this album as it is with everything else in his boys’ lives.

Lonzo Ball is far from the first NBA baller to attempt a rap career and I’m sure he won’t be the last. It should come as no surprise that most of these rap “careers” flame out quickly like the dumpster fires that they are. But, well, not all of them are terrible. Here’s a look at seven NBA rappers and their varied levels of success.


5Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant thegrio.com
attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 5, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.


 You know how Kobe Bryant talks with that monotone that makes him sound like he’s never had sex outside of missionary position? Well, that’s how he sounded as a rapper as well. His single “K.O.B.E.” with Tyra Banks on the hook (!!) was trash, and his 2000 album Visions never happened.  He even contributed a rap verse to Brian McKnight‘s 2009 track “Hold Me.” Also, did you know that he’s on the remix of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”? Yeah, me neither.