Kendrick Lamar is on a roll. After being anointed the new king of the West Coast by the AARP Cali rapper collective of Dr. Dre disciples, he went on to appear on Drake's Take Care, release perhaps the rap album of the year in good kid, m.A.A.d city (the rare "actually met unfairly high expectations" example), show out in the BET Cyphers, and most recently, hop on the "Who's Who of 2012" posse track "Fucken Problem" with Drake, A$AP Rocky, and Archbishop 2 Chainz.
We'll come back to these accolades in a moment, but for just a second let's talk about basketball. There's an expression in the sport: "heat check." It's used to describe a player taking a questionable shot, just to see how hot he really is. Proven players who tend to already have the "green light" aren't really the ones to worry about with regard to the heat check. It's more the ones who are surprising even themselves and are new to feeling so untouchable.
I bring all this up because this weekend was a perfect example of a rapper heat check, disguised by something seemingly very cool.
The Atlanta Falcons have an undefeated record going into Week 10. That is important. D-Block is more important.
D-Block is also a talk show, on the Internet, hosted by D-Block. Who is D-Block? The five-man linebacking corps of the Atlanta Falcons: no. 51 Robert James, no. 52 Akeem Dent, no. 53 Mike Peterson, no. 54 Stephen Nicholas, and no. 56 Sean Weatherspoon.
It's the locker room equivalent of the cool-kids' table in high school. It's where everyone wants to be. The difference, however, from the highly cliquish, mean-spirited cool-kids' table of years gone by, is that when it comes to D-Block, everyone is welcome. It doesn't matter who you are in the Falcons organization. If you have proven yourself to be a team player, your voice will be heard on D-Block. Ringleader Peterson told defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, upon his arriving to chat, "Anytime you want to come and relax yourself, you know, get comfortable, grab you a Gatorade, come over here to D-Block."
The Atlanta Falcons are 8-0. Undefeated. "Loss-less," if you will.
Average ATLiens like myself, not used to success, have been handling this news in different ways. Some don't want to jinx the good news and have stayed relatively quiet. They’re completely fine with the fact that the team is remaining under the radar, seemingly not getting the respect it deserves. Others (myself included) are getting used to the good fortunes and taking a turn for the obnoxious — celebrating way too openly, rudely, and aggressively.
And then there are the rappers.
Already an animated bunch, the crop of Atlanta rappers, complete with varying levels of past success, present success, and never success, have taken to their Twitter accounts to cheer on their city's team — before games, during the games, and most important, after the games.