Note: Title is a reference to Lupe Fiasco’s Theme Music to a Drive-By which corresponds to the theme of this article
Legend: *$** is one word, **$* is another, and *$$**** is a different one
The 2021-22 season for the Utah Jazz took every fan through the emotional dishwasher cycle of sports fandom that can only be known by a perennial playoff but never a better team. To think that we are one year removed from the good vibe tribe of the team with the most wins in the league, a DPOY, three all-stars, a 6MOY (plus the runner up for *$**s sake), and a runner up to COTY (Thibs wasn’t it, Monty should’ve won and Quin was second) makes me wonder when I, or we rather as the Jazz nation collective, dropped off the wagon and never stopped rolling down the Front.
A twenty-five-point lead whittled away as a team played trying not to lose might have done that. Fresh off that hangover, we were ensured that we were a couple injuries away from competing. Were we though? Could the Jazz have won four games against the Suns if they were asked to at full health? I don’t know. Looking back, I’m really not sure. So were a couple re-signs and not much else, going to change the hope from the previous year and keep things rolling to the next? But it wasn’t the same. The happiness that the team had wasn’t there. It was apparent in the wins, even more apparent in the losses, and then we had to hear from Brian Windhorst that everything was falling apart.
Gone were the days of the good vibe tribe, and after a January that was full of Covid, NBA twitter realizing what the Jazz defense was without Rudy to cause more friction, and Joe Ingles plus other trade rumors floating about were what remained. Then Joe tore his ACL and everyone whispered "*$**" at the same time. Yeah, wanting to trade Joe for something that could help the team felt dirty before the injury, but what now? No way to back out of being an *$$**** at this point. After thinking through all this the recent rebrand isn’t that bad (the purple ones are cool).
Here we are though. Trade rumors for Rudy at fifty-fifty, Don’s for sure staying because we need at least one for the all-star game that we’re hosting, and oh yeah everyone else is on the trade block. **$* if everyone in the west is healthy will we even get an all-star? Lebron, Curry, Jokic, Doncic, Kawhi, PG13, Ja, Zion, BI, Booker, CP3, Ayton, KAT, ANT, Wiggins (K-POP + a ring keep him here), Klay, Draymond, Anthony Davis, Dame, CJ, Murray (Jamal and Dejounte), Sabonis, Fox (sorry these last two are probably not real but I thought they were fun and might as well hedge my bets), SGA, Giddey, Herb Jones, Kuminga (or maybe even a rookie like Chet, Jabari, Paolo, or Jaden)?
The question I’m trying to ask here is will a Jazz player be healthy and relevant enough to actually be in the All-Star game.…….What is hope and how do I go about showing it without quoting something from Shawshank Redemption? Is there a trade out there that can make the Jazz better? Is there a trade that’ll make Don stay? But what’s the point, we got a year till we are at the same question again. Because after that it’s trade for value or wait and get a Hayward experience rather than a Williams one.
What did I enjoy about this NBA season? Shoot there a was a lot. But not a lot of it involved the Jazz. It’s easy to know when people aren’t having a good time doing something together. It’s hard to watch it. The good times were few and far between and they all culminated to a final "*$** the noise" before it whispered away. And yet, if there was a second team that I rooted for as much as or equal to or maybe even more than the Jazz it would have to be the Memphis Grizzlies. They were everything I wanted the Jazz to be. Happy playing together. Talking **$* all the time. Not letting Lebron dance on their own court but rather telling him that his "footsteps ain’t scaring nobody" (on a side note I love watching Lebron play basketball but this was incredible and watching him dance on the Jazz court without shoes just hurt [yes, I know that didn’t happen this season but their championship one but it still hurts]).
But back to Memphis. Lose one game and marking the calendar for when you’d see the team next. Who does that? Who has this swagger and where do they get it? Have you seen the Memphis crowd? Have you ever listened to Whoop That Trick? Cause holy **$* I’m not sure if it’s the origin or the catalyst to getting the crowd back in to game but it is. For those that don’t know Whoop that Trick is a song sung by the main character (played by Terrance Howard) from the movie Hustle and Flow, which is about an aspiring Memphis emcee who also happens to be a pimp. Which allows us to come to the conclusion that Whoop That Trick is about the lifestyle that comes with being a pimp.
That aside, the song goes hard and fast and says "Whoop That Trick" sixteen times every time the hook plays. It gets the people going. Did Memphis’ crowd boo their team in a playoff game on their own court? No, they got more hyped up when things were low. When Golden State fans (the ones from SF not from Oakland) chanted "Whoop That Trick" the Grizzlies and the fans didn’t get butt hurt, they came back harder and showed how the song was sung. Did the Jazz have anything like this? How many people have to remind me what was said to Ja and his family, to Russ, to Vernon that I could believe that the Jazz had anything similar? At this point, I realize that things need to be torn down in order to build something back up. Destruction needs to be a form of creation. What else is there? But I being poor have only my dreams. What can I do besides providing belief in something that is in front of me? Can we do the same as Grizzly fans did? Well probably not and if you don’t understand why then there are these things called mirrors that can help you. But we need to end this relationship of despair.
Trap songs like Whoop That Trick make sense in this regard. They have a high BPM and deliver lyrics that hype everyone to the point of frenzy and society when the hook is shouted by everyone. What does this mean for Utah and the crowd of Vivint Arena? Is there a song out there for us? Something to reverse the times when five possessions in a row have been three-point misses without a drive and dish, or a long two that caused the defense to move, or maybe just a layup without getting stripped. What can we create from this? Is there a song for Jazz fans? Well, if there is, it’s going to need to be something that hypes up the crowd and makes that deficit into a win.
I want something about Utah. What does Utah have the best thing in the world. Yup, you guessed it, POWDER! SNOW! One might ask at this point how many songs reference "snow", "powder", that fluffy white stuff. To be honest, there’s actually quite a few. So thus, I would like to proposition the phrase Pepsi-Rap. Yes, this is what Pusha-T allegedly pushed but rebranded due to a fun rumor of a group having a very large investment in the Pepsi corporation. Please note this article has nothing to do with Pepsi the drink and is just a random word used to describe something entirely non-related. To add to this, I would like to propose that the Pepsi-Rap song reference "Powder" or "snow" of the upmost importance next to being capable of getting the crowd back into the game to reduce a deficit. Utah has the best snow in the world and this isn’t debatable. I’m talking about actual frozen water flakes fallen on the ground at this point, so try to keep up. And thus our (really my) journey begins.
Let’s start with an easy one that probably won’t make it but might have made other appearances. Thus first up is Can’t Feel My Face by the Weeknd. This song won the Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Award song of the year in 2016. What other organization could provide Utah Jazz leadership with a "this song is ok to play in front of kids" than Nickelodeon. I’ll wait. That’s because there isn’t one. On the flip side though, this song isn’t going to turn a five-point deficit with two minutes left into a win, nor does it utilize the words powder and snow. If you want to do a fun exercise, go on twitter and look up how many times the Jazz blew a 4th quarter or 3rd quarter lead and then go watch Quin Snyder’s nineteen-minute video on how Donovan DOES in fact pass it to Rudy. If you want to deprive yourself of additional fun go watch a video of the Memphis crowd rallying to Whoop That Trick.
In thinking about the Weeknd, I can’t help but remember a couple famous rappers who also have mellow voices but have attended Jazz games. Yup, Post Malone and Jack Harlow. And no, they are not up for consideration for a song to get the crowd hyped, even though more people in the crowd would know one of their songs than any Biggie song. No, and that’s because they are not even close to the best rapper to ever wear a Jazz jersey. That belongs to Cam’ron. Could a better rapper have worn a Jazz jersey at some point? Maybe. But Cam’ron did so while mopping the floor with Bill O’Reilly on his own show. It’s quite an incredible exchange of a rich white person trying to blame the problems of society on rap music, and a rapper showing how storytelling of the hardships he lived through as well as the time and money he gives back to his community will never be enough to correct a system set up against those people.
Given that, and since we are talking about Pepsi songs, I feel that the proper song to nominate is Losing Weight, Pt 2. The beat is dark and can give you a weird anxiety that could be produce some hype. I mean just the beginning of the chorus "Yo, *$** losing weight. I’m back on these highways, moving cakes" is awesome. The problem with Cam is no one can rap like him, and thus it might be hard for a stadium to sing with him. Cam’ron’s voice drives a late 60’s Impala with the seat leaned back so it touches the rear bench. It’s going to be hard to have twenty-five thousand people not stumbling along, so he’s not a winner for the award but it was fun talking about it. He also doesn’t say snow or powder so I guess it’s even more reason we should move on.
One of my favorite Pepsi Rappers and possibly the only rapper to only really talk about Pepsi in all of his raps would be Pusha T. And boy does he have a catalog. From Numbers On the Boards (which could easily coincide with Basketball), Pepsi Dealers Anonymous, The Games We Play, Keys Open Doors (of which is a reference to a unit of measurement and not an object that turns a physical lock but in this situation actually removes a metaphorical set back), King Push, and on and on to a plethora of available tracks and hooks. Pusha T built a library out of bricks and bricks alone.
The song I want to choose is one that Brandon Jinx from the podcast No Skips told a story about how when the song came out the cool kids at school would egg on the nerdy kids to do the beat in class. And the nerdy kids did just that. The song is Grindin’ by Clipse (the duo of Pusha T and his brother Malice, who later became No-Malice). The best part of the song for the Utah Jazz crowd is that chorus is a single word. This makes it possibly the easiest song for a crowd to sing. The best part about this song though, is and always will be the beat. It’s infectious and doable. Part way through the season Vivint will have fans going Kick - Snare - Kick Kick - Kick - Snare - Kick - Kick Kick - Kick - Snare - Kick - Kick Kick - Kick - Snare - Kick Kick - Kick - Snare- Clash - Clash Clash - Snap - Snare - Kick Kick - Kick - Snare - Clash - Clash Clash - Snap - Snare and continue as necessary by the time the all-star game comes around. Then again, we might have to do practice before games for those of us who aren’t as musically inclined. Also, we might not want to get into the post-chorus portion, as doing so could produce things like the crowd losing sync with each other as well as saying words they shouldn’t. There’s also the fact that this song hails from Virginia and Utah is not Virginia. Malice does say that "the ice is 32 below minus the wind chill" but I don’t feel like this is enough to tie in Utah.
Speaking of Pusha T, in an interview on Complex Brackets (a show that does a single elimination style bracket for different rap songs) discussing Pepsi Rap, he once said there was nothing bigger on the streets when it came out than Young Jeezy’s (now known as Jeezy) Trap or Die. This song fulfills multiple areas of the random criteria that I set forth on, which basically means that it’s about Pepsi and the lyrics contain the word "snow" multiple times. It also has the added bonus of a Trap being a basketball term where multiple defenders cause a turnover or a jump ball.
You know what? Considering how awful the team defense was for the Jazz this year, this might be what the players need. Imagine this: the Jazz are struggling shooting three after three and nothing is going in; then, on defense, the players cause a trap for a turnover and Trap or Die plays. Now, this song has a pretty solid beat and I think it could work but I would like to propose where the DJ has to mess with the lyrics a bit, mainly because it might not work if they don’t. This is what I came up with (make sure you listen to this in Jeezy’s voice):
[Removed (I’m not that good with words to rewrite this part into a song)]
We trap or die [redacted] (chea, oh!), we trap or die [redacted]
And these fans love [insert players name] cause they know he’s the truth
Got the Chevy same color Tropicana orange juice (yeeahh)
We trap or die [redacted] (chea, oh!), we trap or die [redacted]
(Lyrics mostly Copied from Genius.com)
I mean, come on. It could work. I don’t know. Maybe my junior-high self is just trying to relive driving around Ogden blasting Trap Star and Soul Survivor. Maybe it could work. But maybe the average Jazz fan starts saying the redacted portion of the lyrics. Which the average Jazz fan shouldn’t, in any situation, be saying. PSA: Literally there is not a single situation where it’s ok. It is ok for a subset of the non-average Jazz fan to say it, but that’s something the average Jazz fan need not worry about :END PSA. Let’s try something else.
Might as well continue with another rapper from Atlanta, and that’d be Gucci Mane (pronounced Goo-Chee Mayn for those that were wondering). The song I’m going to pick should be obvious after talking about Pusha T considering that it’s Bricks. First off, let’s get to the subject matter of Bricks. It’s a better basketball term than a trap. Steph misses four threes in a row and Bricks plays. Then again, maybe don’t do this on Steph, he can shake it off pretty easily. Do it for Russ, and it slightly rhymes with his nickname which makes it kind of perfect. For these reasons the song could be an instant crowd pleaser and get everyone into the game.
While the criteria was to have a couple specific words be said, the "So icy CEO, I’m a fool with the snow" line doesn’t come at a great time to include for the fans to sing, though I’m still glad that it’s there. Then there is the chorus. We learn colors before we get into kindergarten and I think that arena can remember the colors "all-white" (obviously), "off-white" (great for sneakerheads and easy for anyone who’s painted something), and "light-tan" (where you expect the tanning salon to get you but it always fails). After that, all you have to add is the word Bricks. We could even get the fun section to end it with the line "Just hit a lick for fifty more bricks", referring to stealing a large amount of Pepsi from another group, which could also be said after the player missing shots turns the ball over. We could even change the lyrics to "Balling all out with all their Bricks" to make it more acceptable. The beat isn’t very fast paced but it’s a nice consistency that bobs your head. All this and I think the song still fails to erase a deficit though. It’s fun and can be used to instigate the other team, but beyond that it splats.
And thus, we come to the song I believe I’ve settled on. Black Power, White Powder by Killer Mike. I know right? The Utah Jazz fan base, the people of Vivint Arena, those of the Salt City Slopes singing a song about empowering black people and Pepsi. But stay with me. Why is Utah the butt of the joke whenever someone in the NBA does something racist? Why do Jazz players have to speak out against the state government whenever something that marginalizes a group of people attempts to pass? How are the Jazz still in this position when Robert Sarver still owns a team?
Oh wait….I guess there’s a lot of things that make sense for that reason, but that’s not the point. This is our chance to be better. To not collectively be a huge *$$****. To do something that goes along the same path that Ryan Smith and Dwayne Wade are trying to take this organization toward. This is our chance to choose something that we can all be apart of and all become better for…..oh wait….ah *$**….I just realized that the points in the song where Killer Mike says "White Powder" a person could easily remove the "d" and also not say the proceeding line. So, we’re not chanting this song. We are going to go with Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd and call it good. Congrats The Weeknd on winning another award.