Here in the UK, besides our conveyor belt of top quality musical talent, our love of football is one of the nation’s most iconic and notable offerings. The end of the summer is a big time for both of the aforementioned, with both the festival and football season bringing the very best in British music and sport.
Hip-hop and football have continued to build something of a relationship over recent years, with comparisons between them easily drawn. From consistency, success, notoriety, style, reputation, and shortcomings, if you’ve ever wondered which Premier League football team is like your favourite rapper, or vice-versa, then read on.
Arsenal – Lil Wayne
Once immovable objects within their respective industries, with Arsenal iconically going an entire season undefeated back in 03-04, and Lil Wayne a shoe-in for the ‘best rapper alive’ following the dominating release of Tha Carter 3.
But in 2019, both are a world away from their distinctive, world-renowned feats of yesteryears, with the issues of contracts hitting both parties to the point of irrelevance. A flicker of their brilliance can always be found – Arsenal’s 3-0 thumping of Man United back in the 15/16 season, or Lil Wayne’s verse on Tyler, The Creator’s Smuckers, but for fans of both, it’s sad to see both underperforming quite as much, and evidently miles away from their best.
Bournemouth – Tyler, The Creator
Both of the above possess real quality in what they do, and while generally comfortable as a Premier League football team, and as an accomplished 21st Century rapper, it’s their approaches to their crafts that make them so similar.
Since their promotion in x, Eddie Howe and Bournemouth have refused to throw in their philosophy, and refused to offer anything but exciting attacking football, albeit football that may lack in defensive discipline. Tyler, The Creator is the same, refusing to sacrifice his artistry, even for further fame or riches, staying true to his philosophy and his vision. And while not without their respective questionable moments, both have won the respect of anyone interested in rap or football.
Brighton – Vic Mensa
It’s taken 34 years for Brighton to finally make it to the biggest league in the world, despite appearing in four of the last five Championship play offs, and it feels like it’s taken that long for Vic Mensa to finally release his debut album, despite a string of quality releases before. Finally in the Premier League, Brighton haven’t got off the mark yet, although showing spirited performances against both Leicester and Man City. In much the same way, with the release of Vic Mensa’s debut album Autobiography, in the end the wait wasn’t really worth it, although it does show the huge potential.
Chelsea – Eminem
Eminem has gone through periods of his career when he’s been simply untouchable, and the same can be said for Chelsea. Back in Mourinho’s first spell in charge, Chelsea scooped up the Premier League titles for fun, blowing away the competition and comfortably cementing themselves as champions. And it’s the manner in which Chelsea have won their respective titles, that matches them up with the superiority of Eminem – one of, if not the greatest rapper ever to have lived.
When at the top of his game, coincidentally throughout the mid noughties as well, Eminem dropped albums of unquestionable quality, quality that no other rapper alive could match. The way in which those title-winning Chelsea teams will be remembered and adored, the same can be said for the likes of Like Toy Soldiers, Mockingbird, Sing For The Moment, and Without Me. And in 2019, both are undoubtedly off the pace, but still mentioned in ‘greatest ever’ lists, and certainly not to be respected.
Crystal Palace – The Game
It must be intensely frustrating being a devotee of either Crystal Palace or The Game, two mainstays whose ups and downs, and ultimate absence of final delivery are among their biggest setbacks. The Game has had his moments, from This Is How We Do to My Life, but in particular over the last five years, he’s gone completely missing.
And in a similar fashion, Crystal Palace boast a strong team of individuals, and have just about kept their Premier League status alive. But in the end, they always underperform as a team, with the threat of relegation comparable to The Game’s increasingly irrelevant releases.
Everton – Dizzee Rascal
Back in the Moyes era, Everton were a good team, always finishing in the top half of the table, and often threatening to qualify for Europe, and this was always on a shoe-string budget and a loyal fanbase backing them up. This is very much how Dizzee Rascal’s career kicked off, with the release of two grime classics, cementing himself as the country’s most talented MC.
But Everton and Dizzee Rascal then began cruising, with the former lacking direction, no longer challenging for silverware or showing any drive to better themselves, much in the same way Dizzee Rascal began making music; opting for easy, tired, Calvin Harris-featuring dance-rap. In 2017, through Ronald Koeman and some serious spending, Everton were on the way up, and with a return to grime through the release of his latest album Raskit, maybe Dizzee Rascal was as well. But here we are in 2019, with neither returning to their past quality.
Huddersfield – Lil Yachty
Lil Yachty disrupted the game with a questionable new form of rap, one that ruffled feathers and divided opinion, bringing the legacies of hip-hop into question, and formed new opinions on what can be considered as such.While not quite replicating the extent of that feat with football, Huddersfield are certainly showing signs of something special, and something not quite achieved before with a newly-promoted team- instant stability. You could also argue that David Wagner has implemented a fresh new game-plan of his own, much in the same way Yachty has, with both strategies showing instant success, success that has included promotion to the Premier League, and Grammy Award nominations.
Leicester – Chance The Rapper
Leicester pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of sport when they won the 2015-16 Premier League, a feat that surely will never be repeated, and defied odds of 5000-1. While not quite on the same scale, Chance The Rapper’s game-changing success of Colouring Book, can certainly be compared.
Still an unsigned independent artist, one that’s conquered the world using a formula that’s never been used before. He too defied all odds, and beat off fierce competition from Drake and Kanye West to the Grammy Award for best rap album, in very much the same way Leicester wrestled it off Arsenal and Tottenham – emphatically, and iconically.
Liverpool – Kanye West
A laundry list of achievements, awards, silverware and iconic moments, one of the most successful football teams in the world, has to be assigned with one of the most successful rappers to have lived. But it’s not just their legacies that make them a match, with both of them having an array of questionable moments throughout their careers, like signing Andy Carroll for £35million, or that ‘bleach my asshole’ line.
Both are never too far from controversy either, from Luis Suarez’ racial abuse followed by a public meltdown by then-manager Kenny Dalglish, or Kanye’s infamous MTV/Taylor Swift moment. Their fans are a big part of their match too, with both sets of adoring supporters pledging their allegiance to The Life of Pablo being a good album, or in thinking that James Milner is an appropriate right back. Both undisputed heavyweights, both incredible powerhouses, but both, you have to hate a little bit.
Manchester City – Kendrick Lamar
The Premier League’s renowned top four was hit hard when seemingly overnight, Manchester City became one of the most powerful football teams in the world. Kendrick Lamar disrupted the rap game in very much the same way. While City needed a couple of good seasons to get comfortable as the heavyweight they were becoming, Kendrick too needed both Overly Dedicated and Section80 to prep the lead up to his breakthrough moment.
Manchester City would later go on to snatch the Premier League off its fiercest rivals, cementing itself as the best team in the league, while Good Kid Maad City continues to be heralded as one of the most important rap projects of the modern era. With a slurry of world-class players signed for the forthcoming season and Pep at the helm, and a new project from Kenny on the horizon, Manchester City and Kendrick Lamar are the talents to beat.
Manchester United – JAY Z
The biggest football team in the world, the biggest rapper in the world, the most valuable football club, the richest man in rap, arguably one of the greatest to exist, arguably one of the greatest to have lived. Both United and JAY Z have their undisputed legacies of iconic treble winning teams, or groundbreaking genre-defining albums, and while the quality, and the recognition of their outputs is perhaps what pairs to the two together so nicely, it’s their consistencies that stick out as well.
A mainstay of rap and football respectively, JAY Z and Manchester United have shown an omnipotent power and presence throughout their illustrative careers. And while the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, or the release of Magna Carter..Holy Grail put their legacies on hold, it’s clear both have had their rocky moments over the last few years.
Newcastle – Snoop Dogg
At one point or another throughout their illustrious careers, Snoop Dogg and Newcastle United could be considered one of the best around – from groundbreaking debut albums to near Premier League success.
But that was all a long time ago now, and despite numerous attempts to return to their best, these attempts have proven fruitless. Nowadays you’re not really sure what to feel about the above, Snoop obviously still has bars and the respect of his peers, and Newcastle still boast a proven a huge stadium and a fan-base many teams can only ever dream of. But while both parties’ legacies can be looked back on with fondness, it’s Newcastle’s shocking consistency and couple of relegations in recent years, or Snoop’s equally unimpressive slew of releases, that mean the misses are starting to cloud the hits.
Southampton – ASAP Rocky
There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about the way Southampton conduct themselves within the Premier League, with a clear vision, style, and class surrounding the way they carry themselves as a club. The same can be said for ASAP Rocky, with the vision for both himself and his ASAP Mob, still holding true today.
Both parties show glimpses of real quality, from Southampton’s run in the League Cup last season, to ASAP Rocky’s multi-talented arms at both rapping and production, as well as visual direction within the ASAP brand. But what’s most comparable in Southampton and ASAP Rocky is their consistency, with a continued Premier League status expectant of Southampton, and following three strong projects from ASAP Rocky, a fourth is simply expected to better.
Stoke – Run The Jewels
Both Run The Jewels and Stoke City carry an air of expectancy around them, an air created by their consistency- Premier League mainstays for the best part of ten years for Stoke, and three incredible albums, each as good as the last for Run The Jewels. Boisterous, brash, physical, unforgiving, relentless, Stoke are one of the worst teams to come up against if your team is desperate for a win, and in much the same way, Run The Jewels are one rap group you wouldn’t fancy your chances against. In terms of style, Stoke know what they have to do and get the job done, similarly, Run The Jewels are direct in their message, to-the-point in their delivery, and hold no apologies for frustrating and disrupting, very much in the same way as Stoke City.
Swansea – J Cole
Swansea aren’t given the credit they deserve for where they are in 2017, to come from certain deterioration back throughout the noughties, in which the club looks doomed to administration, to still hold a place in the Premier League, is something seriously overlooked by the footballing world. It’s also in which Swansea play their game, and carry themselves as a club that deserves more credit also. And although perhaps not on the same wave length in terms of final product, this is why J Cole and Swansea belong together. An unbelievable consistency to his work, working through tough beginnings, J Cole has always carried himself in a respectable manner, with no controversies, no drama, no public fall-outs, just straight up, top quality material, material that deserves as much credit as Swansea City.
Tottenham – Skepta
While it’s easy to assign a London-based rapper to a London-based club, that’s not just how Skepta and Tottenham Hotspur compare. While always renowned as hallmarks of the grime scene and Premier League respectively, it’s particularly over the last two-three years, that both parties can be considered some of the best the country has to offer. Under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham has a certain creativity, flair and attacking threat, while still within the reigns of Daniel Levy’s wage and budget restrictions. Skepta too has utilised his surroundings, enlisting close compadres and those close to him, while flirting with the idea of international stardom, scooping up the Mercury Prize in the process. But that’s where the two differ, Tottenham haven’t won anything in nine years, but with new signings promised in the coming days, maybe they’ll follow Skepta in suite.
Watford – Kid Cudi
When looking back on the careers of both Watford and Kid Cudi, you can’t help but feel on the most part underwhelmed. While Watford has had its moments of jubilation, as is the case with that Troy Deeney goal against Leicester, Watford’s consistency as a club is often reflective of Kid Cudi’s up-and-down career as a musician. Just when you feel like both parties may have stabilised themselves, something goes wrong, and it’s back to square one, be it a new manager, or a new musical direction. Recent times saw Kid Cudi release one of the worst albums of the last ten years, 2015’s Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven, not to mention the forgettable Satellite Flight, Indicud and Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’, while Watford have gone through six managers in as many years. Fans of both Watford and Kid Cudi will be praying for stability, in the hope that both can put out another solid season or album respectively.
West Brom – Action Bronson
Heavy set, physical, not always the most glamorous- consistency is now expected from both West Bromwich Albion and Action Bronson. With Tony Pulis coincidentally joining West Brom within a month of the release of Action Bronson’s Mr Wonderful, both instances proved to be landmark moments within the careers of both parties. Tony Pulis quickly crafted the West Midlands club into Premier League mainstays, and through his 2015 album, Action Bronson proved himself as more than a novelty, with an impressive breakthrough project. West Brom have kicked off the season impressively, with seven points from a possible nine, while Action Bronson looks to follow the success of his footballing counterpart, with the release of his latest project- Blues Chips 7000.
West Ham – 50 Cent
West Ham have a decorated history to be appreciated, and despite a real lack of success or consistency over the last five years, they still have the notoriety and respect of the football world, a huge fanbase, and are always ranked as one of the most valuable teams in the world.
The exact same can be said for 50 Cent, with an intensely loyal fanbase, the sheer magnitude of the 50 Cent brand, and a decorative history and legacy – 2003’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is still one of the best selling hip-hop albums of all time. However, both parties have always been marred by inconsistencies, with other teams’ or rappers’ strategies or sounds dwarfing both West Ham and 50 Cent, leaving both to feel as something of a has-been, despite their continued presence within the game.