Michelle Obama is putting out a rap album as part of her Lets Move: Active Schools initiative. The program is geared towards solving the national problem of childhood obesity. As somebody whose day job allows me to work with youth in the inner-cities, I know that putting out a hop-hop album is a great method for delivering a message to our kids. Run-D.M.C, Doug E. Fresh, and Ashanti are some of the acts that will be featured on the album, all of whom are successful artists in the hip hop industry. However, the artist that struck my fancy the most was New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, who will have a track on the first lady’s album.
Now as a Brooklyn Nets fan and Knicks “hater”, I have never been a huge supporter of Iman Shumpert. Knicks fans have viewed him as the next big thing, and while I believe his defense is above average, to me he’s an athletic player who needs to improve his offensive consistency by a lot before he will be taken as a serious threat in the league. I know Knicks fans want to believe he will come together like Paul George did for the Indiana Pacers, and maybe he will after he is more than a full season beyond his knee injury. However, Knick fans were saying that Landry Fields was also going to be a huge building piece of the Knicks future, and then they let him go to a team within the division without making a completive offer to keep him. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Shumpert have a similar departure if he doesn’t step up his scoring in a big way.
One thing I can’t knock about Shumpert is his rap game is really tight! Last year, as he was recovering from a gruesome knee injury, he released the Knicks Anthem, which features his ability to flow.
Now a lot of athletes put out musical albums, thinking that their name and athletic ability will help their notoriety as a musical artist. Shaquille O’Neal and Ron Artest are two examples of posers in the rap game. The difference with Shumpert is that I believe that if he wasn’t in the NBA, he could possibly make it in the rap game as he is very skilled.
One of my favorite rappers today, Kendrick Lamar called Iman Shumpert out on his latest track “Control”, in which he mentioned every hip hop artist and the great Phil Jackson as well. The fact that Kendrick Lamar even spoke Shump ‘s name shows the respect Iman is gaining in both the hip hop and basketball communities. Later that day, Shumpert was the first to respond by releasing:
So while I don’t believe Shumpert is where he needs to be as an NBA player at this point, his overall ability as a rapper is unmatched in the world of professional sports. Also, though I really do enjoy hearing him battle some of the best rappers in today’s game, (I think K. Lamar might be the best), what he’s doing with Michelle Obama is much more meaningful and shows Shumpert’s true character. In a day where the children in our country do not engage in athletic competition like in generations past, it is vital that role models and celebrity figures step up and speak (or rap) the importance of being active. So although I won’t be rooting for the New York Knicks this upcoming basketball season, I will be supporting Iman Shumpert and hoping that his offensive basketball game can approach the level of his rap game.