“Just seeing the words ‘Brooklyn’ on the jersey, the people there in the stands, the people of Brooklyn, and the people working there – I’ve seen people I grew up with working in the stadium – it’s dope they kept it in the community,” he says. “There’s a chant I started on a song, maybe in ’04, it goes ‘Brook-lyn! Brook-lyn!’ and they actually use that chant to rile the crowd up. It’s really dope to hear that.”
He’s right; go to any game at Barclays Center, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll hear the refrain from Fab’s “Brooklyn” track cascading down on the court (you might also see the occasional pickle). But the Nets aren’t just a source of civic pride for the rapper. As he explains in the final installment of The Die-Hards, a four-part video series that brings together athletes and musicians to celebrate fandom in all its forms, Fabolous’ connection to the sport of basketball runs as deep as his Brooklyn roots.
“Basketball has a culture to it, it has a swagger to it. Michael Jordan broke the mold of the Magic Johnson/Larry Bird era – he came in and he had a gold chain, he wore longer shorts and his sneakers were a different style,” he explains. “It translated through, and we got to where Allen Iverson was, where he looked just like some of the guys you’re hanging out with. A lot of streetball guys started being able to navigate their way to the NBA, too. Stephon Marbury actually played at my housing project, so it’s a deeper connection.
“There’s an art to basketball; there’s a passion to it,” he continues. “I relate it to everything I’m doing; I’m a student of hip-hop. Every day you learn something and you want to teach it to somebody else. Keep everybody learning.”