ESPN Music: ESPN The Magazine

The music-sports connection: Here to stay

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
12:28
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It wasn't that long ago that music and sports were separate worlds -- and crossovers from one sphere to the other were rare.

Not anymore. Sports are part of music -- especially rap music -- and music is increasingly part of sports. And it's about more than friendships or hanging out with a fellow celebrity at a club or an event. It's increasingly about building business relationships and cross-platform marketing. And The Music Issue of ESPN The Magazine tackles those growing business and cultural ties between the concert stage and the locker room.

In Sam Alipour's interview with Clippers star Chris Paul and hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar, the point guard and the rapper discuss in depth how music and sports go beyond establishing brands and reaching markets.

As Lamar puts it: "Hip-hop and being a pro athlete go hand in hand. When they come together, it's a win, not just for your business brand but also for culture. I always use the word 'culture,' because that's first -- everything else falls behind it. When they see that this guy loves rap the way he does, and this guy loves basketball like he does, the business is gonna flow behind it."

That's echoed in a thought-provoking essay by former Vibe and Billboard editor Danyel Smith, who writes that the bond between sports and music -- especially rap -- is now permanent and unbreakable. Smith writes that that hip-hop's new generation, led by rappers such as Drake, has allowed artists to be who they are -- and that the music has in turn challenged athletes to up their game and demand their true market value.

But it's not all business. The Music Issue also dives into the unique and sometimes offbeat ways in which the two worlds intersect and collide, whether it's musical inspiration for athletes and fans alike -- such as Kobe Bryant recalling the song that was playing when his high school team celebrated a state championship -- or the athletes themselves getting involved in music, such as snowboard Olympian Shaun White learning guitar.

The Music Issue of ESPN The Magazine hits newsstands on Feb. 3.

What if athletes picked the halftime show?

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
12:27
PM ET
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When the buzzer sounds for halftime, the players head down the tunnel for strategy adjustments, motivational speaking and orange slices. They usually don't get to stay behind and listen to the band on the field or on the court.

What if the athletes were given the chance to book the halftime entertainment?

In this photo gallery from The Music Issue of ESPN The Magazine, we let the athletes choose -- and gave them the chance to interact with the artists.

In these video clips, you'll learn why Kobe Bryant respects Nicki Minaj, why hip-hop has always been a part of his basketball career and whether he has any plans to record another rap album. You'll hear Hope Solo tell singer-songwriter Skylar Grey about her very short career as a harmonica player. You'll see Yonder Alonso of the San Diego Padres and Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles talk about how much they enjoyed hanging out with rap artist Yandel and how hip-hop is a part of baseball clubhouse atmosphere.

The Music Issue of ESPN The Magazine hits newsstands on Feb. 3.
ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Sam Alipour talks with Justin Timberlake, who stars in the new movie "Runner Runner" (in theaters today), about his poker game and ownership stake in the Memphis Grizzlies.video

A's starter A.J. Griffin talks pregame guitar

May, 24, 2013
5/24/13
8:00
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A.J. GriffinAP Photo/Mark J. TerrillAthletics righty A.J. Griffin relaxes pregame with some strummin' and singin'.
In the hours before starts, most major league pitchers are silent and stone-faced. They forgo interviews and avoid teammates.

A.J. Griffin is not most major league pitchers. Before four of his first nine starts this year (4-3, 3.59 ERA), the Oakland Athletics' No. 3 starter strummed and serenaded teammates minutes before taking the mound.

"You don't really see that with starting pitchers very often, but I'm kind of a weird, quirky guy," the 25-year-old right-hander says. "I just like to have fun and enjoy life and not take anything too seriously. We’re playing a game, so we might as well have a good time and enjoy it."

His guitar "routine is not a set routine" and therefore supersedes superstition. He can do one well without the other, he says. “I just play it by ear.” Proof: He won 11 of his first 15 MLB decisions while compiling a 3.28 ERA in 24 outings.

How did this all get started?
In the minors, I was without my guitar a lot because I moved from team to team so much. So before games, I would just put on some crazy dance music and jump around and get pumped up and try to have some fun, try to make a couple guys laugh before we go out and play a game. It has kind of evolved since then.

(Read full post)

Caveman with a van: Heartbreak

May, 24, 2013
5/24/13
8:00
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Tyson Chandler, Carmelo AnthonyIssac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesStill mourning the end of the Knicks' playoff run? Read on for some help coping.
Editor’s note: Drummer Stefan Marolachakis is traveling the country in a black van with tinted windows, touring for his band Caveman’s eponymous second album. Every week, Marolachakis will hunt the nation to gather musicians and athletes to discuss the link between the two clans. This week, our caveman reflects on his grief for his beloved Knicks and offers some tracks for respite.

Sometimes it feels like being a Knicks fan is simply the most painful thing a sports fan could be asked to endure, unless you live on the wrong side of Chicago or anywhere in Cleveland.

This Knicks season was, at many points, glorious to behold: they beat the Heat three out of four times; the defense was mugging; Carmelo was an offensive genius, and J.R. Smith was his wild-eyed wing man in the clutch. But the run is over, and I’m left to sit in shock, parsing out what exactly happened.

Sadly appropriate, when the Knicks ultimately fell to the Pacers in the second round, I was in a hotel room in Mississippi, mere miles away from the Delta, the cradle of the blues. And since all know that when the going gets tough, the tough turn to their record collection, I have been using music to cure my NBA-PTSD and creating a soundtrack of new music (and one very old song) as I climb through the classic Five Stages of Grief.

1. Denial

During this stage I blamed the refs, almost exclusively. My dad pointed out to me after the Game 6 that in the final six minutes of play, there were a total of nine fouls called, eight of which were called on the Knicks. Eight! Yes, I realize that the Pacers were too big, they killed the Knicks under the boards, etc. But eight fouls to one? And 46 free throw attempts versus 18 for the Knicks on the game? For shame! It felt like the Knicks had no chance of moving forward in the playoffs with a crew of whistle-happy refs.

Soundtrack: Tame Impala, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.”

(Read full post)

The Mag 15 playlist: 2012

April, 15, 2013
4/15/13
7:00
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ESPN The Magazine is celebrating its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The “Around the Horn” panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the final playlist below.

“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
“You’ll understand I had to put it on the list. But I don’t want to talk about it either.”

“Gangnam Style” by PSY
“Remember, Dennis Rodman wanted to go to North Korea and meet PSY. PSY, who is South Korean, wasn’t able to make it.”

“We Are Young” by Fun featuring Janelle Monae
“Say hello to the Oklahoma City Thunder, as exciting and youthful a basketball team as we’ve ever seen in the NBA Finals. The future looked so bright ...”

“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson
“... and then they met the Heat, survivors of scrutiny as rare as the Thunder’s youth. LeBron got his ring, meaning it might be a while for Kevin Durant.”

“Starships” by Nicki Minaj
“Add 'starships' to the list of things not nearly as fast as Usain Bolt, who won three more gold medals and staked his claim to being the greatest track Olympian of all time.”

“Take Care” by Drake featuring Rihanna
“Can’t you imagine Drake consoling Lolo Jones and telling her everything would be OK? How did Lolo’s PR team not get her in one of his videos?”

“Work Hard, Play Hard” by Wiz Khalifa
“Call him Johnny Football if you want to, but it’s pretty clear Johnny Manziel likes lots of other things. The Heisman Trust has never had a winner quite like this.”

“Glad You Came” by The Wanted
“Serena Williams did the crip walk at Wimbledon during the Olympics, and Andy Murray won the men’s gold medal. There’s two things you’ll probably never see again.”

“We Found Love” by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris
“Inspired by the death of his girlfriend, Manti Te’o helped Notre Dame to its best season in nearly 25 years. Hey, that’s what we thought in 2012."

The Mag 15 playlist: 2011

April, 12, 2013
4/12/13
7:00
AM ET
ESPN The Magazine is celebrating its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The “Around the Horn” panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the entire playlist below.

“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
“The Patriots could have had it all, again. But they lost in the Super Bowl to the Giants. Again.”

“Look at Me Now” by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes
“Most thought this would be LeBron James’ anthem after the backlash of The Decision. Turns out it fit ... Dirk Nowitzki?”

“Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa
“This anthem for the Steelers wound up co-opted by any fan base that could make it work for them. And somehow, Wiz Friggin’ Khalifa performed at halftime of an NFL playoff game. Yes.”

“6 Foot 7 Foot” by Lil Wayne featuring Cory Gunz
“That’s the story of Anthony Davis’ rise in the recruiting rankings. And after he hit campus that fall, Kentucky grew from a Final Four team to a dominating national champion.”

“I Need a Doctor” by Dr. Dre featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey
“That must have been what the seemingly indestructible Adrian Peterson thought, lying on the FedEx Field turf with his ACL torn. Turns out ... he really might be indestructible.”

“F----n’ Perfect” by Pink
“For so long, we’d heard that about Andrew Luck. This was the year we found out Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III might have been even better."

“All of the Lights,” by Kanye West featuring Rihanna
“Helping your favorite pep band try and sound cool since someone sneaked it into the playlist without the director’s permission.”

“The Show Goes On” by Lupe Fiasco
“It’s much easier for fans to say that to a free agent after winning a championship, making Albert Pujols’ move to Anaheim from St. Louis after the 2011 season better than it could have been.”

The Mag 15 playlist: 2010

April, 10, 2013
4/10/13
11:25
AM ET
ESPN The Magazine is celebrating its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The “Around the Horn” panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the entire playlist below.

“Power” by Kanye West
“Love The Decision or hate it, but be honest -- from that moment on, LeBron James has been the biggest star in sports. He flexed his muscle, to disastrous effect, but you can’t say he didn’t have the power to do so.”

“Break Your Heart” by Taio Cruz
“Yeah, sorry, Cleveland. We know. We know.”

“You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift
“This is summary of Dan Gilbert’s insane, Comic Sans diatribe about LeBron. Wait, I thought it said You Belong to Me.”

“Cooler Than Me” by Mike Posner
“Those of us who thought Duke’s program had become too stale to get Coach K his fourth ring? Maybe being 'cooler' doesn’t matter that much.”

“Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry
“After 49 Cup-less seasons, forgive hardened, blue-collar Chicagoans for singing like pop stars when the Blackhawks finally brought home a championship.”

“Miss Me” by Drake
“Because, finally, this was Brett Favre’s last season. His third -- and least successful -- last season.”

“B.M.F.” by Rick Ross featuring Styles P
“That’s exactly what Michael Vick did, though most of it went back to the Falcons after he went to prison. But 2010, powered by an unexpectedly great season, was when he started making it back.”

“OMG” by Usher featuring will.i.am
“Connecticut’s women’s basketball team had its second straight 39-0 championship season. Those three letters might be the only way to capture such dominance in the 21st century.”

The Mag 15 playlist: 2009

April, 8, 2013
4/08/13
7:00
AM ET
ESPN The Magazine is celebrating its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The "Around the Horn" panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the entire playlist below.

“Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus
“This was the year of the Super Bowl champion Saints, as close as possible to truly being America’s Team. Even a couple of Falcons fans rooted for Drew Brees & Co.”

“Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” by Beyonce
“Two years earlier, Kobe demanded the Lakers get him some help. This year, he put a ring on it, and Shaq was nowhere to be found.”

“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
“Jay and Keys performed this during the 2009 World Series, which the Yankees won. Which, apparently, turned this into the new New York anthem the world was just itchin’ for.”

“I Love College” by Asher Roth
“Guarantee that’s how John Wall felt about his year at Kentucky, when he and his incoming classmates arrived in the Fall and fully ushered in the era of one-and-done college basketball. It’s just that he loves millions of dollars more.”

(Read full post)

The Mag 15 playlist: 2008

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
7:00
AM ET
ESPN The Magazine is celebrating its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The "Around the Horn" panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the entire playlist below.

“Whatever You Like” by T.I.
“This had to be the team song of the Detroit Lions, whose accommodating performances on the gridiron helped make them the first 0-16 team in NFL history.”

“Superstar” by Lupe Fiasco
“Forget his NFL career. Watch this and be reminded Tim Tebow [the speech], on his way to a national title at Florida, was every bit the superstar many wished he could be now.”

“4 Minutes” by Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake
“The song doesn’t matter. Just remember the '08 Phillies won the franchise’s first World Series since ... before anyone had even heard of Madonna. Yeah, long time.”

“No Air” by Jordin Sparks featuring Chris Brown
“As in, when Mario Chalmers hit a last-second 3-point dagger to send Kansas into overtime against Memphis, John Calipari looked like there was no air left in the universe.”

(Read full post)

The Mag 15 playlist: 2007

April, 3, 2013
4/03/13
7:00
AM ET
ESPN The Magazine is celebrating its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The "Around the Horn" panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the entire playlist below.

“Make It Rain” by Fat Joe
“That was pretty much all anyone could hope would happen in a game against the 16-0 Patriots, featuring the resurrection of Randy Moss. Or, just wait for the Super Bowl.”

“Umbrella” by Rihanna
“Never forget -- Prince killed the Super Bowl halftime in February -- in high heels, in the rain -- and managed to sneak an inappropriate visual into the show for good measure.”

“Party Like a Rock Star” by Shop Boyz
“Because this is exactly what Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich did after winning their fourth championship. You know they did.”

(Read full post)

The Mag 15 playlist: 2006

April, 1, 2013
4/01/13
7:00
AM ET
This month, ESPN The Magazine celebrates its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The "Around the Horn" panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the entire playlist below.

“Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley
“This was the year Steve Nash won his second MVP. Maybe we were crazy? Yeah, possibly.

“Ridin Dirty” by Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone
“This is more Mark Martin’s flavor, but it was the year Jimmy Johnson won his first of five Cup series championships. If you ain’t ridin’ dirty, you ain’t tryin’.”

“I’m in’ Luv (Wit a Stripper)” by T-Pain
“At once, a young athlete’s dream, and the soundtrack to the veteran’s cautionary tales.”

“Dirty Little Secret” by The All-American Rejects
“Yes, Floyd Landis, I’m looking at you.”

“There It Go (The Whistle Song)” by Juelz Santana
“The unofficial theme song of the 2006 NBA Finals, when Dwayne Wade went to the foul line like he paid rent on it.”

“Bossy” by Kelis
“As is Peyton Manning. But after the 2006 season, he was something more important -- a Super Bowl champion.”

“Jesus, Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood
“Little known fact -- that was the official name of the play Florida ran when Tim Tebow threw the jump pass. Or maybe it just should have been.”

The Mag 15 playlist: 2005

March, 29, 2013
3/29/13
7:00
AM ET
This month, ESPN The Magazine celebrates its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The "Around the Horn" panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the entire playlist below.

“I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys
“Oh, you thought the newly minted Red Sox Nation stopped celebrating when 2004 ended?”

“Number One Spot” by Ludacris
“In the AP poll, that was USC’s from the end of 2003 all the way through the 2005 season. Until...”

“Best of You” by Foo Fighters
“...They ran into Vince Young in the greatest college football game of all time to close the season.”

“Speed of Sound” by Coldplay
“The Heisman Trust may not remember Reggie Bush, but the rest of us do, and that’s about how fast that electric, once-a-generation talent moved.”

“La Tortura” by Shakira featuring Alejandro Sanz
"2005 gave us one of the lowest-rated NBA Finals -- Spurs-Pistons -- in history, and it had the nerve to go seven games! What torture.”

“Scars” by Papa Roach
“As in, ‘If you cancel your whole season because of a labor dispute, NHL, it’s gonna leave some scars.’ And it left some scars.”

“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day
“That’s the road the Seahawks take to go back in their minds to Super Bowl XL, and officials throw flags at them the whole way for no apparent reason.”

“Over and Over” by Nelly featuring Tim McGraw
“Hey, did you know Jerome Bettis was from Detroit? That’s one thing Seahawks fans hear going down that boulevard. Over and over.”

The Mag 15 playlist: 2004

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
7:00
AM ET
This month, ESPN The Magazine celebrates its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The "Around the Horn" panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the entire playlist below.

“Yeah!” by Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris
“No need to explain, when this one was everywhere.”

“Hey Ya!” by OutKast
“Since it was hip-hop, but not really, the all-purpose choice for many arenas until they ran this one into the ground.”

“Overnight Celebrity” by Twista featuring Kanye West
“Ladies and gentlemen, let us introduce LeBron James.”

“Numb” by Linkin Park
“And by the time Barry Bonds hit his 700th home run, that’s how just about everyone felt.”

“Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet
“Ever played Madden ’04? Yeah, you know this one too well.”

“Change Clothes” by Jay-Z
“Shaq went to the Heat, A-Rod went to the Yankees, eventually giving each team a ring that might not have been worth the trouble.”

“No Problem” by Lil Scrappy
“Nov. 19, at the Palace of Auburn Hills, there were lots of problems no one wanted, Stephen Jackson chief among them.”

"Lean Back” by Terror Squad
“Roy Jones didn’t like when Fat Joe mentioned him on the remix ... but he really should have leaned back before Antonio Tarver hit him with a second-round knockout.”

“Burn” by Usher
“That’s right, Yankees fans! That ALCS meltdown still burns, doesn’t it?”

“Sorry 2004” by Ruben Studdard
“The sort of song the AP Male Athlete of the Year should have sung then -- and refused to sing even after he confessed.”

The Mag 15 playlist: 2003

March, 25, 2013
3/25/13
12:30
PM ET
This month, ESPN The Magazine celebrates its 15th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, right here on Sounds, The Mag will look back and generate exclusive playlists curated by Bomani Jones. The "Around the Horn" panelist will pick and discuss the biggest hits of the past 15 years. Listen to the entire playlist below.

“21 Questions” by 50 Cent
“See, this is the year baseball really started asking questions about performance enhancing drugs, getting back the answers they both expected and feared.”

“Ignition Remix” by R. Kelly
“A catchy little ditty about Helio Castroneves’ victory at the Indianapolis 500. Or maybe not.”

“Where is the Love?” by Black Eyed Peas
“Shaq, Kobe, after three rings, you found the love? Nah, didn’t think so.”

“Air Force Ones” by Nelly featuring the St. Lunatics
“For 2003 is the beginning of the season that saw Rasheed Wallace become an NBA champion.”

“Cry Me A River” by Justin Timberlake
“From Chicago, to Bartman, with love.”

“When I’m Gone” by 3 Doors Down
“For 2002 was the year Mike Tyson said he was going to “fade into oblivion” after losing to Lennox Lewis. Instead, he fell into...being likable?”

“Real Good Man” by Tim McGraw
“For Tiger Woods winning the Tiger Slam, though it might work better if the title were “Real Good, Man” instead.”

“Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkson
“Sure, Serena Williams won three Grand Slams titles, but don’t forget the Australian Open saw Jennifer Capriati go back-to-back long after we thought that was possible.”

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