Around the time when someone named Michael Jordan was helping basketball transcend national boundaries, groups like Run-DMC, Grandmaster Flash and Whodini were doing the same thing with an underground art form known as hip hop. The two cultural phenomena clicked, and in the more than 25 years since, the bond has grown even stronger.
Former Bad Boy Records A&R Shannon "Slam" Ridley is creating a new chapter in the connection between the two worlds with his latest project, Full Court Press Volume 1. The lead single from the compilation album, "I'm A Champion," featuring Shawn Marion, T-Pain, Dorrough and Young Cash, is the first of many all-star collaborations Slam has put together.
"I felt like if I can get some NBA players, write some clean, inspiring rhymes, get the world's greatest rappers on this album with all clean messages, I could put something together that's really unique,” Slam told BET.com. "I want it to be something that will not only penetrate hip hop culture, but that everyone from 8 up to 80 could listen to and have a good fun time."
The project features some of today's top artists, such as Game, Future, Ma$e and Royce Da 5’9", on tracks with such NBA players as Iman Shumpert, Lou Williams, Stephen Jackson, Charlie Villanueva. Shumpert and Harlem native Ma$e make the New York connection on "Welcome to NY," while Bun B and Stephen Jackson rep for their hometown Port Authur, Texas, on "Go Hard."
Slam hopes the songs will entertain as well as inspire young hip hop fans.
"I feel like there is a space where we can make hip hop fun again," said Slam. "Will Smith never cursed, demeaned women or encouraged you to do criminal activities on one record he ever made and he was able to become one of our biggest entertainers in my lifetime, so I want to bring that back with Full Court Press Volume 1."
In addition to the star-studded roster blessing the mic, Slam recruited some big names to help ensure that the tracks are on point.
"Mario Winans produced a track for me. I have Cool & Dre, I have some new producers who were just amazing," Slam exclaimed. "I think it's really gonna be a strong album. If it's distributed the right way, promoted the right way, I think we're gonna have a huge huge brand on our hands. Through this movement we'll be able to reach an entire generation of young people."
Check out the "I'm A Champion" lyric video below.
BET.com is your #1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.
Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: Full Court Press Records)