Recently, T.J. Warren dropped an exquisite playlist on his Spotify filled with some of the best 90’s hip-hop and R & B tracks of a golden era. After many days of waiting, the promised second playlist has dropped.
I’m well-versed in about three things; The NBA, boxing, and 90’s rap. When a star forward on the team I cover drops gems (Legit 9/10 playlists), I have to write about it. It’d be sacrilege not to.
It’s for the culture.
"You're f---ing trash."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 9, 2020
Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren got tangled up, and both players had a few words for each other pic.twitter.com/C0VCJuuEFW
And if you want beef, then bring the ruckus! The Indiana Pacers are droppin buckets!
It’s time for the ultimate crossover folks.
As the Indiana Pacers enter Bubble play, I’m Entering the 36 Chambers.
I posit the question; If each player in the 8-man rotation were a member of Wu-Tang Clan, who would they be? (I only included players who MIGHT play in the bubble, I’m sorry Jeremy get Well)
I mean come on; if you actually thought Victor Oladipo wasn’t Method Man, I don’t know what to say to you.
While the Wu is appreciated for it’s collection of talent, Method Man was by-and-large the front man of, I’ll say it... the greatest rap group of all-time.
Victor has the perfect blend of charisma, talent, swagger, and gumption to draw more than just a handful of similarities. He played an integral part of a TV show earlier this year; Method Man had a really good recurring role in the last three seasons of The Wire (Maybe the best show of all time.)
Method Man was a crunch time performer and that has been the epitome of Victor and his fourth quarter heroics.
Oladipo with a deep three to send Bulls/Pacers (-8.5) to OT pic.twitter.com/PM5Adn1XzK— br_betting (@br_betting) January 30, 2020
Mr. Mef has the imposing lyrics that hit hard like Vic driving down, seeking contact and taking it to the rack with authority.
I came to bring the pain hardcore from the brain, Let’s go inside my astral plane, Find out my mental - Bring The Pain, Method Man Tical 1993
The amount of times this song has started up in my head after an Oladipo rim-run is unquantifiable.
GZA aka Genius
So you’re thinking I selected GZA for Malcolm due to his basketball IQ? Wrong!
The Wu is too slammin’ for these Cold Killin’ labels, Some ain’t had hits since I seen Aunt Mabel, Be doin’ artists in like Cain did Abel, Now they money’s gettin’ stuck to the gum under the table, That’s what you get when you misuse what I invent, Your empire falls and you lose every cent GZA, Protect Ya Neck 1993
First of all, this is one of the smoothest verses of all-time. Secondly, if the Bucks lose in the Eastern Conference Finals again, I’m throwing this at everyone I know that lives in the state of Wisconsin attached to a Brogdon highlight reel.
My loose translation to basketball; the Bucks let Malcolm Brogdon go via a sign-and-trade. He was excellent in a smaller role that was primarily off-ball in Milwaukee, but given the chance to operate with the ball in Indiana, he flourished.
GZA, often lauded as the most intricate lyricist among the Wu, was well known through his work with the group. However, his first solo record propelled him into stardom.
Liquid Swords is quite possibly the best Wu-Tang album that’s not 36 Chambers, and certainly has a claim to best solo album. Plus, the cover art on the album is amazing.
Hear me out; Ol’ Dirty is one of the most eccentric and unique rappers of the 90’s. His flow was utter insanity.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard him on Da Mystery of Chessboxin’. He’s simultaneously off-beat, but on-beat, exerting every ounce of energy and more bending the beat to his will. So many artists can be attached from bar to bar; ODB was not constrained in the slightest.
His creativity is unmatched and he truly set the table for a lot of what Wu did. His verses & voice are a major part of the foundation of sound that built Wu-Tang Clan into what we know today.
See the comparisons? Domantas Sabonis is largely an unconventional center, especially by Pacer standards. While there have certainly been great big men in the organization’s history, none have been the hub of the offense quite like Domas.
DHO’s and elbow playmaking are to Sabonis what intro’s and wacky interludes were to ODB (see he first 56 seconds of Goin’ Down). They typified what made him unique in the rap game, much in the way Domas’ court vision sets him apart. Both will leave you laughing in impressed bewilderment.
Aside: I knew Domas had to be ODB after re-reading Caitlin Cooper’s piece on him doing point guard things. That’s the most ODB thing in Pacers Basketball.
My favorite ODB verse ends in the ultimate Sabonis fashion; dishing it up.
Introducing the Ghostface Killahhhhhhhh ahhhh ahhh ahhh No could be iller! - Da Mystery of Chessboxin’, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) 1993
I’ve always thought Ghost had the name that was most fitting of all the Wu members; his consistent productivity is unmatched by anyone in the group, and by few artists in general. 13 studio albums, 7 collaborative albums, and more guest features than I can fit into an article. More importantly, every single work that Ghost has put out is quality.
Starting off with Ironman & Supreme Clientele as your first two albums is like scoring 55 points in your 7th career NBA game (ahem, Brandon Jennings). So while none of Ghost’s albums since have lived up to his first two, his career average is still insanely high. He’s 50 now and I swear, every other week I see him guesting on a new track or album. The man just does not stop and I love it.
Enter T.J. Warren.
Much in the vein of Ghost, T.J. is an incredibly steady producer. Often times, it’ll be the third or fourth quarter of a game, T.J. will score, and I’ll wonder aloud how many points he’s at. Open up The Score, and lo and behold, T.J. has put up a steady 22 points yet again.
These Ghost lyrics pop into my head anytime T.J. glides through the lane in transition and makes his defender look like a traffic cone.
You two-faces, scum of the slum, I got your whole body numb - Triumph, Wu-Tang Forever 1997
As the primary producer of all Wu projects and most of the solo work, RZA is the undeniable tone-setter and stabilizer of the group. He had some really solid bars and flow alongside his legendary production. However, there’s a lot of discourse over his ability to spit, and I just don’t agree. He has a lisp, and some find that detracting, but I’ve never found that to be a fair way to judge his ability.
He has a good rhyme scheme. He can create a great image with his words. Plus, he’s got good word play and can carry a track by himself at times.
Myles Turner is so much more than the box score and what many indicate it implies. Every player in the NBA has aspects that could be improved; taking the time to understand and appreciate what they do is more fruitful than routinely harping on what they don’t. There’s so much to appreciate about what Myles brings on both ends.
Myles is an elite rim-protector who is one of the better back line communicators in the NBA, routinely setting his teammates up for success.
RZA’s opening verse on Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ya F*** Wit is the clear cut number one.
Yo, there’s no place to hide once I step inside the room/Dr. Doom, prepare for the boom - Enter the Wu-Tang 1993
I can so clearly hear Quinn Buckner yelling smothered chicken on the broadcast as Myles blocks a full-grown man who thinks he’s about to get himself on Sportscenter.
Ojo al TAPONAZO de Myles Turner a Marvin Williams anoche pic.twitter.com/5gS9U9lDXL— More Than A Game (@Pasion_Basket1) January 21, 2019
Raekwon The Chef
This is simple. Raekwon is often called ‘The Chef’ and for good reason. He had some of the more standout features on 36 Chambers and so rarely disappoints in guest appearances. Not to mention that he had perhaps the best solo album of anyone in the group; Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is a masterpiece.
When the ball is in Rae’s hands, he’s gunning, and it’s goin’ in. Sound like someone we’ve seen in The Fieldhouse?
Doug McDermott is a scorcher off the bench for the Pacers. He’s not often going to create his own shot, but working off of his two-man game with Sabonis, he has the gravitational pull of Titan on opposing defenses.
Folding under pressure like beach chairs - Eye For An Eye, The Infamous 1995
Whenever I hear this line from one of Rae’s prime guest spots, I think about Doug destroying the heart’s of a defense every time he bombs from deep.
Prior to this year, I didn’t know much about Justin Holiday, In witnessing his game for a full season, I fostered an appreciation for him. His defensive rotations, communication, and off-ball movement make him one of the best role players in the NBA. The nuanced things he does that you grasp when going back through film for an article are what make him shine through for me.
That’s what led me to finding Inspectah Deck to be Wu-Tang tinted mirror image of Justin! When I first started listening to them and getting into their solo work, I wasn’t enamored or really taken by Deck. He had some really great verses on 36 Chambers, but I was too invested in Ghost, Method Man, and Raekwon to notice anything else.
In going back through over the past year or so and really dissecting ID, his verses, and work with Czarface, I’ve come to the conclusion that he is vastly underappreciated. I don’t think he ever had the star power to be the lead man, but his word play and flow are infectious.
I stumbled upon a verse of his from a collaboration with Big Pun and Prodigy on Capital Punishment.
I come thunderin’ with the heat of two summers/When I enter the zone, move mountains with the presence alone, Before the words rip through the microphone/Chrome dipped lyrics are known to split stone/You privatize, home in but can’t seem to clone - Tres Leches, Capital Punishment 1998
Cap was late to the table, missing out on 36 Chambers, but flashed his talents on his early guest appearances. He made it onto Wu-Tang Forever, the second Group studio album, but was listed as a feature and not part of WU itself. However, he finally broke through on the third group album The W, which he was a significant part of and earned full credit as a member of Wu-Tang.
This is slightly dramatic for Aaron Holiday’s case. He’s obviously been a part of the Pacers and their future since he was drafted, but he still has yet to carve out a consistent role with the team when the roster is healthy.
As I’ve mentioned on the Indy Cornrows Podcast, Aaron has a huge opportunity in Orlando to solidify a spot in the rotation moving forward. With Jeremy Lamb out likely for much of next season, Aaron could ascend to become the Pacers sixth-man with consistent play.
He has a world of talent as we’ve seen during countless stretches of his play during the regular season. It’s about putting those stretches together now and I’m confident he will!
Cappadonna destroyed his guest spot on Winter Warz, showing out everyone else on the track. Is it the best verse on all of Ironman? That may be heresy to say, but I’ll make the claim.
Aaron Holiday flashes those same glimpses; In an 8 game stretch from November 6th - November 23rd, he averaged 14/4/5 with 56% True Shooting and 40% from three. In another stretch the next month (14 games from December 13th to January 10th) he slashed 14/2/5.5 while shooting 44.6% from downtown and 56.3% True Shooting. The Pacers were a combined 14-8 across those games.
I’m already starting to analyze basketball again in an article I was determined to not overly-analyze basketball! SO that means I’m out. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I can’t wait to watch some Pacers basketball tonight and get back to you all with analysis here as well as in-depth conversation over on the Indy Cornrows Podcast!
As always, I’d love your feedback and thoughts! Shoot them down below or feel free to hit me up on Twitter @MSchindlerNBA.