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Mic Check: Grading College Hoops’ Rap Videos

In recent years, there have been a rash of those on college campuses who are trying their hands at rapping about their schools’ sports supremacy. Normally such songs come out a bit hokey and corny, but there are some cases in which gold is struck.

Without further ado, we grade the home-made, college-themed rapping - found thanks to the power and reach of YouTube.

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Maryland (“Terps Basketball 2011 Rap”)

This is the bad rap song by which all bad rap songs are judged. We didn’t know it was possible to be so out of tune rapping but CP Triiiio - that’s who’s responsible for this travesty - makes our ears bleed. Set to the beat of DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” this song truly is a loser. A sample lyric: “All Terps do is win win win no matter what/Duke fans like Bob Dole they can never get it up.” Reality check:  The Terps last made the Sweet 16 in 2003 and Bob Dole ran for president in 1996. Please update your references.

Grade: F-

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Missouri (“We Are Mizzou”)

Rule No. 1 when making a rap song and video: Don’t have it come off like a talent show at a posh country club. So these guys weren’t trying to be ironic with this song? This is what it would be like if a group of guys with not an ounce of hip hop in their veins rapped. A sample lyric: ““Yeah we have control of the game that’s on tap, but it’s Corona not Pabst, this ain’t some crappy IU rap.” Agreed. It’s a crappy Missouri rap.

Grade: F

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Duke (“Duke Basketball Rap”)

“Greg Paulus, I love you, man.” That’s all you need to know about the lyrical content in this song made by a young man who looked like a rapping Justin Bieber. He admits to being a Furman student and to having no affiliation to the Blue Devils, of whom he’s been a fan since birth. But we can’t get past the horrendous auto-tune. We’ve found the inspiration for this Jay-Z song.

Grade: F

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Louisville (“L Yeah”)

We never thought we’d say this but ... don’t disrespect Lil Jon like that. This abomination, written by Jay Fresh, splices together a recording of Lil Jon’s famous “Yeahhhhhhh” tag line along with some mumbling raps. It also bills itself as Louisville’s 2008-09 March Madness theme. The Cardinals had a good showing that year, when they made it to the Elite Eight before losing to Michigan State. But should that talented squad be associated with this song? “L No.”

Grade: F

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Murray State (“Murray State Anthem”)

Trubz and Matlock are a bit repetitive in this song. We get it, guys, you are rapping about the Murray State Racerrrrrs. A sampling of other lyrics from the song? “Dunk on ‘em, take no charge … we so big, we so big that we look like bodyguards.” And, of course: “Our hoops squad is so good, you can call us Team Great. Every time it’s game time, it’s primetime at Murray State.” Watch out, Nas and Jay-Z! So what saved this song from a failing grade? The shout-out to former Murray State great Popeye Jones.

Grade: D-

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Purdue (“Boiler Up”)

This song was just awful. Sorry, Lux & P, we couldn’t even finish listening to it. The instrumental made the song uncomfortable, as it sounded like the rapper had to yell to be heard on the track. Plus, the lyrics weren’t that great and the idea of a bunch of kids deciding to “Boiler Up” doesn’t seem all that hardcore. Indiana isn’t known as a hotbed for hip-hop, and that’s been proven by the Hoosiers who have a song of their own. And they’re up next.

Grade: D+

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Indiana (“This Is Indiana”)

When these guys were rapping, we couldn’t help but think of the all-time cringe-fest known as “Summer Girls” by LFO. That’s not a good thing. Although, they did refrain from informing us that Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets. If you got that reference, don’t admit it. That being said, we kept the grade higher than one might think because the beat was great and the song’s central theme was, you know, IU has been good at basketball for years and your school hasn’t. Plus, the opening montage is awesome. Stick to video editing, guys.

Grade: C-

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Georgetown (“Black and Gray”)

This song gets a mediocre grade because it was the latest in the long line of remixes of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.” Sure, we like the beat, but it has been done before on a number of occasions - including the New York Knicks’ “Stat and Melo” song that was made after they acquired Carmelo Anthony via trade last season. So the Georgetown effort was clearly worse than some of the other similar remixes but had enough relevant lyrical content that it wasn’t a complete flop. But please retire this beat.

Grade: C-

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Syracuse (“Unfinished Business”)

Let’s be honest, this song by Syracuse student Jake Ober isn’t great, but it didn’t make us cringe like some of the others on this list. The 2011 song was made in reference to the top-seeded Orange bowing out of the 2010 NCAA tournament with a loss to Butler in the Sweet 16. Unfortunately for Syracuse, it didn’t handle its unfinished business in 2011, when it lost in the tourney’s Round of 32. But we added extra credit points for Ober featuring a player on the roster at the time, Arinze Onuaku, on the track.

Grade: C

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Illinois (“Illini Rap”)

This season, Illinois coach Bruce Weber is more worried about a swan song. But this rap is all the struggling Illini have to hold onto - and that’s not saying much. It has an incredible opening, which added points to its grade. The song’s downfall? It sounded like something from the 1980s - a really, really poor man’s Grandmaster Flash, if you will. We don’t think that’s very relevant for present-day college basketball. But at least it wasn’t auto-tune.

Grade: C

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North Carolina (“2012 Tar Heel Rap”)

We were waiting for someone to use “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne as a backdrop to their college sports-themed song. To the credit of those who made this 2012 UNC tune, they were the ones who went that route. However, they left a lot to be desired here - starting with the “Lollipop” instrumental that sounded like it was being played off a smart phone. The rapper also was noticeably freestyling; if you are going to give us a Tar Heel anthem, at least come with some preparation.

Grade: C+

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Michigan (“Michigan #1)

This song is of the “so bad it’s good” variety. The 2006 rap gets major props for laying the lyrics over the top of the “SportsCenter” theme song. What self-respecting sports fan doesn’t like that tune? And we love that it was by an actual player, former Michigan Wolverine Brent Petway. Unfortunately, his lyrics aren’t good and the sound of his raps is bizarre. Maybe, he can rap to the beat of “Sweet Georgia Brown.”

Grade: B-

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Kansas (“Game On”)

As this story points out, this song has a professional feel. The rapper, Krizz Kaliko, is a Kansas City, MO, native who actually has some nice flow and provides us with a catchy hook - one of those songs that if it were on the radio you can see yourself repeating over and over again for the rest of the week whether you want to or not. And that’s more than we can say for a lot of the songs on the list, which could not be tolerated if they were stuck in one’s head. Game On!  See, there it goes again.

Grade: B

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Kentucky (“Tribute to Big Blue Nation”)

Props to the these three girls who were clearly prepared for their performance. Well, the one in the back just had to sit there and nod her head. Not much work there. But the two rappers had some clever lyrics and referenced Anthony Davis’ unibrow, which was funny. They also tapped into some of the things that make Big Blue Nation great, including a handwritten shout-out on loose leaf paper to former Wildcats forward Patrick Patterson. Who else would do something like that?

Grade: B+

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Marquette (“All We Do Is Win”)

There’s a lot to like here, including the length of this 2010 track. It’s only 1:35, which means the amateur rappers have less time to screw it up. They also let the energy from DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” carry the song. But the lyrics weren’t bad, either, with a reference to the Golden Eagles’ 1977 national title and their current standing as a tough out in the Big East. Nothing over the top. But we think the best part of it all is the video, which featured a cold opening from former Marquette star Dwyane Wade and several wacky dance moves from players on the team at the time. Well done, bros of Milwaukee.

Grade: A-

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Bellarmine (“We’re Back”)

Leave it to a Division II school to take the cake. Granted, it’s not just any DII squad; Bellarmine (KY) is the defending national champion and is looking for a repeat. What a way to get the school and its fans hyped for another run in DII March Madness. This song melded rock and rap as if it were something from the Gym Class Heroes, while the video reminded us of The White Stripes - with a basketball theme, of course. Oh yeah, and there was the video’s joking dismissal of “Linsanity” in favor of Bellarmine’s run at another title that put this whole package over the top.

Grade: A

 
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