The right song can unite a sports fan base like none other. Jay Z’s ode to New York City, “Empire State of Mind” became popular at the perfect time –during the 2009 New York Yankees’ World Series run. Jay Z and Alicia Keys performed the song at Game 2 of the World Series and the song dominated New York radio for well over a year.
Some songs can also unite a team to taunt their opponents. The Seattle Seahawks do not play any songs by Atlanta rapper Future because of his past relationship with Russell Wilson’s wife, Ciara. In the Seahawks-Falcons playoff game in January, the Falcons DJ created a setlist full of Future songs to taunt Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
This NBA Finals playlist captures the full essence of the Golden State-Cleveland showdown. It is full of alternating hip-hop anthems from the Bay Area and Cleveland rappers, songs that reference the stars in the series, and the songs that certain players have come to love and hate.
“March Madness” – Future
No one loves singing March Madness as much as LeBron James does. I repeat, no one. Here too. Ok, last one.
“Act Right” – Yo Gotti ft. Jeezy and YG
Because “I’m going going, back back, to the Bay, RIP Mac Dre” is a sensational opening line, especially for a song by three rappers who are not from the Bay Area.
“Swalla” – Jason Derulo ft. Nicki Minaj
Draymond Green hates when Nicki Minaj mentions LeBron James in her songs. In “Swalla” she raps, “my shit slappin’ like dude did LeBron’s nuts.” (Yes, Draymond is “dude” in this situation).
“Summer Sixteen” – Drake
We learned that Golden State practices at Drake’s house and that Draymond reminds Drake of his bodyguard, “Chubbs.” This year, the Warriors are definitely “looking for revenge” after last year’s NBA Finals loss.
“Pursuit of Happiness” – Kid Cudi
Cleveland’s own Kid Cudi blessed us with this classic track off his classic debut album. This song is great, but if you’re trying to turn it up a notch, check out the remix.
“Tell Me When To Go” – E-40
The Bay Area’s hyphy anthem by 40 Water. I still don’t understand Keak Da Sneak’s verse, but who cares? Go stupid. Go dumb. Ghostride the whip.
“Bumpin My Music” – Ray Cash
Who remembers this mid-2000s song? Ray Cash is a Cleveland native and a Cavaliers fan, so take a quick trip down memory lane and jam out to this one-hit wonder.
“Blow The Whistle” – Too $hort
This is Bay Area hip-hop’s “Sweet Caroline”. No night is complete without hearing it at least once. Even though current crowd at Warriors games no longer know all the words to the song… *hides*
“Thuggish Ruggish Bone” – Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Bone Thugs are synonymous with the city of Cleveland, and I’m thoroughly convinced that this 90s classic would still go hard if it came out today. Don’t @ me.
“I Got 5 On It” – Luniz
“Thuggish Ruggish Bone” is a tough act for any song to follow up in a playlist, but Luniz’ Oakland anthem more than holds its weight.
“1st of Tha Month” – Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Bone Thugs don’t get the love they should in hip-hop discussions of all-time greats. And the Finals appropriately start on June 1st, so wake up, wake up, wake up…
“Feelin Myself” – Mac Dre
RIP Mac Dre, a Bay Area hip-hop legend. This was one of his biggest hits. Gone too soon.
“Monstars Theme Song (Hit Em High)” - Coolio, B. Real, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes
When Isaiah Thomas said, “We’re not scared of Cleveland. They’re not the Monstars,” the Cavaliers embraced the comparison by walking out to this Space Jam song to start Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
"0 To 100" – Drake
Because “Chef Curry with the pot” is now a shoutout to Steph Curry’s wife, Ayesha Curry. She was born and raised in Toronto, like Drake, and has started her own cooking business and restaurant.
“Trap Paris” – Machine Gun Kelly ft. Quavo and Ty Dolla Sign
Machine Gun Kelly is constantly on tour and reps his home city of Cleveland. This song features some of the hottest names in hip-hop right now.
“Choices (Golden State Warriors Remix)” – E-40
This 2016 song was corny as hell. But that’s OK. E-40 is a legend. The only thing could possibly make this song better is a 2017 version that somehow captures the greatness of JaVale McGee.
“Bitch Better Have My Money” – Rihanna
Because “Ballin’ bigger than LeBron”, is one of RiRi’s many signs of her super fandom of The King.
"California Love" - 2Pac ft. Dr. Dre
Tupac Shakur was a Oakland native (by way of NYC and Baltimore). There's no better song to close out the playlist with that this tribute to the West Coast.
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