Bars on Balls: 7 Professional Athletes Who Have Released Rap Albums

BY Dora Abena Dzaka November 5, 2023 1:08 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Facebook @Shaquille O' Neal

It is a fact that music transcends all disciplines and it is even evident in the world of sports. Professional athletes have dabbled in the music industry over the years.

These athletes can kick a ball, make free throws, and score goals—you already know that—but did you know that they are also musically inclined and gifted that they took on music and were successful in the field as well?

While sports and hip-hop are not the most iconic pair, the two industries have been thriving off of each other for decades.

Athletes that you love to watch on the field, court, or even in the ring at one point decided to enter the booth. Afrobeatsplus is examining seven athletes who have previously released rap albums.

Shaquille O’Neal

Working with some of the greatest in the business, O’Neal produced multiple tracks on Shaq Diesel with Erick Sermon. He later collaborated with Redman, RZA, DJ Quik, Warren G, and other artistes. The basketball star gave up the microphone to take up the turntables and is known by the stage name, DJ Diesel. Gorilla Warfare, his EDM album, was his debut. It is still amazing that he was able to put out five studio albums, four of which were released while he was still a player in the NBA, even though he seems to be involved in everything these days. But in 1995, Shaq Diesel’s 1993 debut album went platinum.

Damian Lillard

Remaining in the basketball space, we must commend Damian Lillard, also referred to as “Dame D.O.L.L.A.” in the rap community. Four studio albums—The Letter O, Confirmed, Big D.O.L.L.A., and Different On Levels: The Lord Allowed—are all songs that have been released by the Bay Area baller. His song “Kobe” is featured on NBA 2K21’s soundtrack as a tribute to the legendary Lakers star, and he currently runs the label, Front Page Music.

Roy Jones Jr.

Roy Jones Jr. decided to give music a try when his professional boxing career was at its pinnacle. Round One: The Album, his debut album, was released in 2001. Y’all Must’ve Forgot was the first song to be released. After three years, the world champion in multiple weight classes started a group called Body Head Bangerz and released another album. When Body Head Bangerz: Volume One was released in 2004, Southern hip-hop was at its height of popularity.

Master P

Master P can be regarded as both a hooper who rapped or a rapper who balled, depending on your point of view. In any case, he accomplished some pretty amazing things in both directions. The No Limit Records founder and mogul, who briefly played in the NBA, is unquestionably deserving of a spot on this list. In addition to having features on numerous other songs, Master P has released 14 studio albums over the years.

 Kobe Bryant

Many are familiar with the late legend from his wildly successful NBA career; he was also known by the nicknames Bean and the Black Mamba and was one of the best basketball players of all time. His musical endeavors are remembered by a few of us. However, the legendary member of the Los Angeles Lakers recorded the gangsta rap album, Visions in 2001. Heavy hitters like Nas, 50 Cent, Beanie Sigel, Black Thought, and Destiny’s Child contributed to the record, but Columbia Records quietly shelved it before it could be fully released.

Melvin Ingram

Melvin Ingram has been putting down tracks in addition to being named to three consecutive Pro Bowl teams and finishing his 10-year NFL career with 57 sacks. The native of North Carolina, known by his stage name King Mel, released King Talk, his debut album, in 2018. The outside linebacker had released a couple of mixtapes before that.

Metta World Peace

Formerly known as Ron Artest, Metta World Peace had a 19-year NBA career that was characterized by competitive, hard-nosed basketball and a world championship. His debut album, My Way, was released in 2006 while he was a member of the Sacramento Kings and featured Diddy. Later in 2017, he put out a second album under the moniker Metta World Peace.