Who should create a Rockets playoff theme?
Every Spring, Houston begins anew with its sports teams. We found a way to somehow park Potential Pickup Basketball Ringer But Very Dismal Quarterback Brock Osweiler on the curb with a draft pick in his pocket and somebody picked him up (thank you, Cleveland). The Astros are currently in the middle of spring training, which means the city won’t catch on to their actual doings until June.
The Rockets? The Rockets are far and wide the most consistent good thing that the city has produced sports-wise in 2016-17. All of them are relative characters in their own way. They’re led by a coach (Mike D’Antoni) who was once considered a crazy revolutionary in terms of space, pace and dependency on the three and has now returned as a white haired Godfather. Their on-court leader (James Harden) is a guy who dealt with celebrity, hated it even after he had his best statistical season yet and then parlayed it into a year where he may finish top three in both points and assists. And as opposed to the three stars are the gravity of our basketball culture, the guy who put it all together like Hannibal Smith (Daryl Morey) merely found every available decent three-point shooter from New Orleans (Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson) and Los Angeles (Lou Williams) and asked them to fit in.
Currently, the Rockets have the third-best record in the league at 46-21. They’re on pace to finish with their second-best record ever at 57-25. Yes, there’s scant belief that the Rockets, not the Golden State Warriors, could end up facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals this year. Yes, these Rockets.
Houston can’t help itself but make rallying songs around their sporting teams. It’s an unofficial genre at this point. Bun B made one for the Astros when they made their way back to the playoffs in 2015 (“Crush City”). Chamillionaire made one for the Astros in 2005 ("Turn It Up"); Slim Thug, Paul Wall and Z-Ro one for the Texans when they finished 12-4 in 2012 (“Houston”). We even have rappers who have made songs about specific Rockets players (Hakeem Olajuwon) or moments (the 1994 and 1995 NBA Finals). This is a thing. Even if we pray that nobody makes a Houston Rockets playoff theme song, the idea persists.
Seeing that we need only one rapper or artist to make a theme for the Rockets, we need to break this down by some arbitrary measures — namely, listing at least 15 Houston rappers who would definitely be down to not only add bars and panache to a theme song, but who are utterly convincing when they rap.
- Kirko Bangz
- Bun B
- Killa Kyleon
- Maxo Kream
- Slim Thug
- Paul Wall
- Travis Scott
Rule No. 1: If you’re going to make a Houston Rockets theme, you must be completely unthreatening while doing so.
Immediately we lose Maxo Kream and J-Dawg, which would be terrible for a lot of things, but not for making a Rockets theme song. Our theme-song creator cannot be the most menacing figure to praise a team that has a) no single goon there to pick up six hard fouls; and b) could more than likely frighten every single player he would warmly be discussing. It’s like getting a Hallmark card from Deebo, except that Deebo would still promise to knock your lights out and take your money. Maxo’s Rockets theme would be bouncy. It would be a ton of fun, if you’re into your rap being the equivalent of kidnapping, kneecap shootings and plenty of drugs sold. He’d compare slinging drugs to James Harden dishing assists. Thus, he could not deliver a Houston Rockets theme song.
J-Dawg would pray for every single person going up against the Rockets. He’d also scream that they would be dribbled upon with sound vengeance and furious anger because that’s J-Dawg's nature. He’s a gift in that way.
We’re now down to 13 rappers: Slim Thug, Propain, Z-Ro, BeatKing, Doughbeezy, Travis Scott, Killa Kyleon, Le$, Paul Wall, DeLorean, Doeman, Bun B and Kirko Bangz.
Rule No. 2: If you’re going to make a Houston Rockets theme, you must not blindly root for other squads (or people).
With Rule No. 2, we have to say goodbye to Propain (a secret Knicks fan) and Killa Kyleon (a LeBron James homer). We know why Yves is a Knicks fan; he’s from New York. Pro? Propain is a great rapper with an odd penchant for the orange and blue Knickerbockers. Kyleon has been on Twitter, Instagram, and so on and so forth taking shots at the Warriors and anybody who disrespects LeBron James. LeBron may not have eclipsed Michael Jordan in terms of being the greatest player of all time. He has, however, become the modern-day version of Jordan in regards to people who will forever admire his basketball skill and will protect his legacy until they can no longer breathe.
We’re now down to 11 rappers: Slim Thug, Z-Ro, BeatKing, Doughbeezy, Travis Scott, Le$, Paul Wall, DeLorean, Doeman, Bun B and Kirko Bangz.
Rule No. 3: If you’re going to make a Houston Rockets theme, you have to have at least made one memorable sports line in a rap.
Z-Ro is the king of this with "H-Town to Cali just like Robert Horry.” He also refers to himself as Rokeem Olajuwon. Slim Thug and Paul Wall made plenty of moments when it came to “Houston” in 2012, so they’re safe. E.S.G. made the most disrespectful line about a Houston Rocket imaginable with a shot at Kelvin Cato, though he’s not involved here. Travis Scott’s “Way Back” is an unofficial ode to the Rockets’ James Harden, so he’s safe here as well. But we have to sadly exclude Le$, DeLorean and Kirko Bangz. One of these three (Bangz) is a legit celebrity-basketball-game MVP, but Kirko’s one-liners have been better suited for himself or his dalliances with women and collecting money. Le$ and DeLorean’s raps have been less about sport and more about their actual lives fighting for not just a measure of success but to avoid every single trapping that may lay along the way.
We’re now down to eight rappers: Slim Thug, Z-Ro, BeatKing, Doughbeezy, Travis Scott, Paul Wall, Doeman and Bun B.
Rule No. 4: If you’re going to make a Houston Rockets theme, you’ve had to at least made one definitive Texas anthem.
Sadly, this sadly cuts away Doeman, who has made a multitude of raps geared towards the Southeast part of the city. He’s sported throwback Rockets jerseys in many of his videos, but so far hasn’t made a kick-down-the-door, “throw your horns up” Texas rap record. This also cuts away Travis Scott and BeatKing, because even though Scott has “Way Back” from birds in the trap sing mcknight, this is about state dominance. BeatKing has made club anthems that aren’t strictly Texan and even if he’d come up with the most viral theme of all, he would probably involve joking about political figures and being politically incorrect. We don’t need our theme song offending people outside of sports. Even if BeatKing would maybe be the most entertaining of the bunch.
We’re now down to five rappers: Slim Thug, Z-Ro, Doughbeezy, Paul Wall and Bun B.
Rule No. 5: If you’re going to make a Houston Rockets theme, you cannot have been banished from making sports theme songs.
That cuts Bun B away after his “Crush City” attempt for the Astros got panned by everybody except for those people who work at SportsTalk 790. Sorry, Uncle Bun.
We’re down to four rappers: Slim Thug, Z-Ro, Doughbeezy and Paul Wall.
Rule No. 6: If you’re going to make a Houston Rockets theme, you have to have made a record that not only changes the entire vibe of a room but also brings up a singular memorable moment of your life.
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Doughbeezy’s biggest record is not a freestyle. It is “I’m From Texas,” a song from Footprints On the Moon that was as loud and brash as any Texas theme needed to be. “I’m From Texas” won a Houston Press Music Award. People love “I’m From Texas," “I’m From Texas,” however, does not bring up a large, culture-shifting moment in your mind.
Slim Thug and Paul Wall have managed a seismic shift of a record and also a solo moment of their own. Slim Thug and Paul Wall are two of the three men responsible for “Still Tippin’” which is a record people still refer to whenever they mention Slim Thug. Paul Wall either gets mentions for “Sittin’ Sidewayz” or “N Luv With My Money”; or his grill collection. Both men have inked Houston into their skin. They live by this city, they’ll die by this city. “Still Tippin’” even gets plenty of people to largely ignore the middle verse from Mike Jones, which may actually be the most memorable of the three. But “Still Tippin’” reminds you of 2005 and it also tells you that a ton of people outside of Houston still believe Houston should rap and ride like 2005. Even if Steve Nash was morphing into an absolute efficiency monster right around the same time in 2006 and 2007, the Rockets are not tied to such 2005 thoughts of basketball.
Z-Ro has more than a few records that cause you to pause and think — “Respect My Mind,” for starters. “I Hate You” is another. But do you realize how much Z-Ro got out of a five-minute rap explosion around the same time as “Still Tippin’”? Bun B wasn’t truly Bun B until “Murder” arrived in 1996. Slim Thug wasn’t Slim Thug until any numerical Nawfside Swishahouse tape. Or even his “Before the Kappa” freestyle, when that strong baritone admitted to having “drank by the pint, ‘dro by the pound.” You throw on “Mo City Don” in any formal setting, and things go left. Things immediately change. Z-Ro morphs into a cultural fireball that will forever stand the test of time.
Z-Ro, even if he may not be called for it, should make the Houston Rockets' playoff theme.