Last fall, Questlove went to check out one of the Brooklyn Nets' first games at the new Barclays Center. What impressed him most wasn't the home team's 98-85 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers: "Gotta say," the Roots drummer tweeted that afternoon, "@BrooklynNets has THE best music soundbites in their game."
Since the NBA season began in November, music supervisor J. Period – a mixtape DJ who's worked with Nas and Lauryn Hill – has been punctuating games with amped remixes of current rap hits. "Brooklyn is one of the meccas of hip-hop," he says. "The idea was that it should be a party."
During games, Period sits on a platform with another DJ who actually triggers the tunes – custom remixes Period has made of 150 songs by everyone from the Notorious B.I.G. to James Brown, plus lots of Nets co-owner Jay-Z. When Nets star Joe Johnson races toward the basket, Period's remix of Kanye West's "Power" booms over the PA. Later, when the team returns to the court after a time-out, the DJ cues Jay-Z's "U Don't Know." "It's Brooklyn," says guard MarShon Brooks. "People get excited."
The crowd starts chanting "Brooooooook-lyn" after power forward Andray Blatche dunks – echoing the Nets' new theme song, John Forté's "Brooklyn: Something to Lean On." "For me, it had to be more than just a jingle," says Forté, a Brownsville native who rapped on the Fugees' 1996 smash The Score before serving seven years in prison on drug charges. "This had to be an anthem."
Tonight, the Nets beat the Hawks 94-89, but that's almost beside the point. "I've talked plenty of trash to Spike Lee," J. Period says of the Knicks superfan. "Even if we lose, our music is better."
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