"Diamonds & Wood" is an ongoing series in which music critic Shea Serrano breaks down the 5 hip-hop tracks you need to hear this week.
If I may be allowed to be a little loose with the term, I “played” basketball the other day. If I’m held to strict definitions though, I “stood” on a basketball court while much younger, much less fatpieceofshit-y players played basketball. I didn’t score very many points and I don’t imagine my PER was much higher than -97. Also, I found myself on the ground more times that anyone could’ve reasonably anticipated. It was a sweaty, ugly, 5-on-5 nightmare.
The teams were as they have been for the last four years: Me, Coach, Coach 2 and two students that otherwise wouldn’t be allowed to participate in a pickup basketball game versus our school’s five best players (This season’s best: La Machina, Game Point, King, Junior and The Stalk). We’ve had teams that have given us trouble, specifically 2011’s squadron, which was led by a long-legged pitbull named Donut with a devastating crossover, but traditionally we’ve nearly always dominated these matchups.
Our dynasty, however, appears to be in peril. We have just been chased down by time and tortillas, is all. Coach, formerly a basketball king, is still quite good, but his age has dug a knife deep into his chest. His fadeaway jumper remains one of the Earth’s greatest, most unstoppable forces, but he tires quickly these days. After the first few minutes, he moves like he’s tied to an anchor. Coach 2, naturally a soccer player, has always been a victim of a lack of basketball confidence. His growing age and growing midsection serve as a devastating multiplier. And I have somehow managed to stay in a seated position for probably the last year, gaining more than 25 pounds of blubbery mess and losing the ability to move at a high rate of speed for hours without stopping, the only real advantage I ever carried onto a basketball court. It was an inevitable demise, I suppose, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable.
At yesterday’s game, we were a fat old mess. We shot out to an early lead, which was totally expected, and is usually enough to cause the other team to quit. Not this time though. We sputtered three minutes in and Game Point, who earned his nickname because if his team gets to game point he’s going to get the ball and he’s going to score and there’s nothing you or Bruce Bowen or God can do about it, pounced. Game Point is a devastating offensive monster against even the most readied armies. Against our pot bellies, he became nothing short of an NBA JAM character. His teammates were buoyed by his dominance. They turned into the Miami Heat. And we turned into boobs.
Every time they passed the ball, our defense loosened. If it skipped around the court more than twice in one possession, our legs were like, “Nah, I’mma chill.” Six seconds into a possession our defense became little more than shouting at someone in shooting motion—generally either “HEY!” or “That’s off!”. If one of us felt especially spry at that particular moment, we’d clap our hands and step towards the shooter. It was the best any of us could do and it was nowhere close enough. They rained fire on our heads.
When we tried to muddy the game up, to beat them up a little, Game Point flexed. He’s only 14, but his shoulders already reach from Austin to Dallas. He strode into the post, yelled for the ball, then bulled his way to layup after layup. He’d laugh when we fouled him and he’d laugh when he scored and he’d laugh when we didn’t laugh. No human has ever been more infuriating. I never felt so bad for Shawn Bradley in my entire life.
When the game was over, we three sat in the bleachers and blamed the loss on our two spare parts. We plotted an actual game plan to stop Game Point in our next matchup (trap hard on any picks set inside the three point line and switch every pick set outside the three point line), which is maybe the saddest thing I’ve ever been a part of. And then we all celebrated our basketball intellect and waited for our game, even though I don’ t think any of us really wanted to play them again right then.
Infinite sad faces.
1. The Outfit, TX, "My Street"
"Watch out for these fake bitches, they ehhhrwhurr/Texas is my street, nigga, I stay ehhhrwhurr/East Dallas, Pleasant Grove, South Dallas, I stay ehhhrwhurr/H-Town, sahhwest, Sunny Side, I stay ehhhrwhurr/Mom and pop got muhhr huhhr/They're prolly gon' get buhhr huhhr/So let a nigga be vuhhr cluhhr/Straight up like evahcluhhr/I love the Tex, and I'ma rep 'till my casket cuhhr huhhr"- JayHawk
I can't think of very many people capable of taking all of the best parts of southern rap and rolling them up into a more accessible, more unencumbered four minutes. These guys might be the best of all right now.
2. 8Ball and MJG, "Classic Pimpin'"
Because going from The Outfit, TX to 8Ball and MJG on a playlist is why I was born. FUCKFUCKFUCK EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS ABOVE THE MASON-DIXON LINE, is how this song should make you feel.
3. DeLorean, "Love Me," featuring Bun B
Foot, meet throat.
I CAN'T BREATHE, I CAN'T BREATHE.
Give Delo all of your duckets.
4. Young Jeezy, "R.I.P. Remix," Featuring A Bunch Of Other Guys, But Not Enough Guys Because This Is So Very OH MY GOD
I DON'T EVEN HAVE ANY WORDS FOR HOW PERFECT THIS IS.
5. Chris Brown, "Freestyling" Over "Started From The Bottom" Because Maybe You Didn't Realize He Was On That "R.I.P. Remix" From Above Taking Shots At Drake
The S key and the M key and the H key: All the way used.
Shea Serrano is a writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in the Houston Press, LA Weekly, Village Voice, XXL, The Source, Grantland and more. You can follow him on Twitter here.