Though he hasn't played a professional game since 2003, Michael Jordan remains the most name-dropped basketball player in hip-hop, and his relevancy in rap is only rising.
Rap Genius, the online encyclopedia/Bible for rap nerds, decided to pit Finals superstars LeBron and Curry head to head to see who was winning off the court, at least when it comes to their inclusion in hip-hop lyrics. As a basis of comparison, they also included Jordan and Kobe in the mix. The results, seen below, show that while Lebron may be besting Curry at the current moment, the real story is the incredible name-drop dominance shown by Jordan even without having played a minute of NBA basketball in over a decade.
As you can see, over the past 30 years MJ is the unquestioned king of name-dropping for rappers. But while it's obvious why MJ was being name-dropped more than Lebron in 1995, it's hard to get mentioned as a professional basketball player when you aren't one yet. Jordan's popularity hasn't just maintained, it's surged. Other than a small period circa 2006, where Kobe briefly took the crown, perhaps spurred by his historic 81 point outburst vs. the Raptors, rappers have remained supremely loyal to the GOAT. Even in 2015, Jordan nearly bests the other three combined.
Some of you might be saying, "BUT WAIT! How were people referencing Stephen Curry back in 1990?" Well, obviously the exercise isn't perfect. These are keyword searches, so whether it's Stephy Curry, Dell Curry or the spicy Asian cuisine being referenced, both will show up. Same goes for Jordan, regardless of whether the artist is jumpin' like Jordan, tip toeing in their Jordans or being three much for these hoes like Jordan, it all counts as a reference. Then again, the fact that MJ's name can be used in so many contexts just proves what a deep impact he's had on the culture. If there was any question that MJ was not the king, despite his rings, at least he's got the hip-hop reference game on lock.
[By Brendan Varan. His first ever CD purchase was the Space Jam Soundtrack. Follow him on Twitter.]