In Monday’s CFP title game, Clemson may have rocked Alabama, but hip-hop provided the best lens through which to view the lopsided outcome. While Crimson Tide fans, starting well before the contest ended, were blaming Drake for their squad’s loss, some Tigers players were celebrating their triumph by channeling Suge Knight.
Specifically, Clemson’s Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell made a noteworthy reference to Knight’s infamous acceptance speech at the 1995 Source Awards, in which the Death Row Records head offered a recruiting pitch to artists who might otherwise sign with the rival Bad Boy Entertainment and their high-visibility honcho, Sean “Puffy” Combs.
Paraphrasing Knight’s diss of Combs, and switching the locale, given that the former threw down his gauntlet at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the Tigers made note of the fact that they were at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (Or as Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney put it, “Wherever the heck, California, we are.”)
While speaking with ESPN’s Rece Davis following their team’s 44-16 destruction of Alabama, first Wilkins and then Ferrell exclaimed, “We on the West Coast!” With Davis doing his best to hang on to his microphone, they said, “For any recruits out there, if you want to come to a program where you ain’t gotta worry about your coach, all up in the locker room, dancin', come to Death Valley!”
Presumably, Wilkins and Ferrell were simply taking playful advantage of being in California, Knight’s former stomping grounds, and the chance to play off Death Row in referring to Clemson’s Memorial Stadium, widely known as “Death Valley.” In other words, surely they weren’t suggesting that Alabama Coach Nick Saban was in the habit being “all up in the locker room, dancin’,” right?
It’s an amusing notion, though, certainly one that offers more laughs than Tide fans enjoyed Monday. When they weren’t bemoaning Saban’s game plan or quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s interceptions, some of those fans found reason to shake their virtual fists at Drake.
The rapper/serial front-runner had provided a reminder of his affinity for Alabama not long before the game, in a New Year’s Day social-media post in which Drake encouraged his followers to not waste any time following through on resolutions. He happened to be clad in a sweatshirt bearing the school’s name and logo, which the Tide duly noted.
Others noted that as well, except with less of Alabama’s pride and, in many cases, a major dose of trepidation. That’s because Drake has not only become known for attaching himself to successful programs and athletes, including Kentucky basketball, the Miami Heat, Johnny Manziel and Serena Williams, but also for failing to serve as a good-luck charm.
Drake’s bond with the Toronto Raptors is a bit of a different case, as he is a native of the city, but it’s worth noting that they have developed a recent reputation for coming up small in the playoffs. As for the Wildcats, they haven’t won a national title since he began repping them sometime around 2013-14, and after he tried to worm his way into the Heat’s locker room following their triumph in the 2013 NBA Finals, they were trounced by the Spurs in a rematch the following year, then lost LeBron James to the Cavaliers.
Manziel was name-checked in a 2014 Drake track titled “Draft Day,” and shortly afterward, the Heisman Trophy winner was drafted in the first round by the Browns and promptly shredded his NFL career, in large part by partying with Drake and his entourage. Drake also mentioned Williams in song while making it clear that he was enamored with her, then he attended her 2015 U.S. Open finals match against Roberta Vinci, which resulted in a shocking loss for Williams.
Throw in a show of support for Conor McGregor last year, right before the Irish UFC star was soundly beaten by Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Tide fans had plenty of reason to be wary of Drake’s love for their squad. Sure enough, as Alabama was getting mauled by Clemson on Monday, the vitriol, or at least jokes at the rapper’s expense, poured forth.
At least one person associated with the Tide may have been happy about Drake’s bandwagon-jumping, and that was Saban himself. After all, the attention paid to the rapper had to be taking at least a teeny bit of the focus off the veteran coach, who was still left to start dancin’ his way around questions about how his talent-laden team could have looked so unprepared for what Clemson threw at it.
Meanwhile, Drake wasn’t the only hip-hop superstar to get roasted during Monday’s game. More than a few observers thought Lil Wayne, who performed at halftime with Imagine Dragons, was dressed in a manner worthy of ridicule.
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