Pro'Verb's Got a New Wiz Anthem
The frothy extracurriculars in this Wiz-Cavs series have been banished to the sidelines, and we're (mostly) back to talking about basketball. That goes for the series's hip-hop participants as well, which is why Pro'Verb--the local rapper who famously responded to Jay-Z's DeShawn Stevenson diss track with a defense of D.C.--has a new, basketball-related track. It's called "Wizards Game 6 Anthem," it's based on Fat Joe's remix of the "300" soundtrack, and it's more or less about basketball more than battling emcees.
Who is this Pro'Verb? He's 21-year old Calvin Roberson, a P.G. County emcee who's been battlin' since his days at Largo High. He heard Jay-Z's DeShawn track, heard how it had been used against Stevenson in his own city, and heard the people calling for a response from the so-called DMV.
"If it was New Orleans, Lil Wayne would have responded; if it was St. Louis, Nelly would have said something," Pro'Verb told me this afternoon. "For us not having one of those major MAJOR rappers, I felt like it was kind of being taken for granted, and someone had to step up, regardless of how big the artist was....In my mind, what does it matter who Pro'Verb is? Someone stood up and said something and is representing your city."
By Monday morning, that response--laid over Jay-Z's seminal "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)" track--made its way to WKYS afternoon drive host EZ Street. "I was like, 'Oh, I've got to get this on immediately," EZ Street told me. "I was like, 'Ladies and gentlemen, the DMV has spoken.' People have been requesting it ever since."
It was picked up by countless sports and hip-hop blogs and message boards, local news programs and sports talk radio stations, more places than Pro'Verb can keep track of, making it "most definitely" the biggest eruption in his fledgling career.
"I thought it was very, very, very hot," said the guard, who estimated he's listened to it 60 times this week.
James was asked whether he's heard the track; "James' face turned stony and he simply said 'No,' " the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
But Pro'Verb was motivated, he said repeatedly, not by the desire to create cheap publicity nor by any enmity toward LeBron James. He just thought the Jay-Z onslaught was an unfair mixing of media, like "bringing guns to a knife fight." Jay-Z, a noted lyricist, was taking on a basketball player who didn't have a comparable platform to respond, and the implication that the D.C. area would take this insult quietly was belittling to local artists.
"I don't even know DeShawn; that wasn't really the point," Pro'Verb said. "It wasn't even about DeShawn, it was about Jay coming at DeShawn and him not even being a rapper... After not responding to so many rappers who come at you, now you come at a basketball player? It's not cool. That's a bama move to me."
But, as mentioned, just as cooler heads have prevailed on the court--with captains Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler stepping in to quiet the talking--so too has the hip-hop focus turned back to hoops.
"Hey, this is entertainment," said EZ Street, who continues to play the Pro'Verb track daily. "There's no reason for people to get excited about it, it's not serious."
Pro'Verb struck a similar note. He's hoping to make an appearance at Game 6 before a show at Fur and a competition on WPGC, and he thinks he D.C. area should unify around both its basketball team and its inspiring artists without seeking to stir up controversy.
"It's not a beef record, it's a pride record, that's the biggest thing that's been misconstrued," he said. "It's not about basketball; it's about men handling their business on the court and rappers handling their business at shows and on wax with other rappers. That's all this is about. I hope the Wizards stay focused and don't let any of this deter their attention from the mission we have at hand."
And that mission is?
"We bounce back," Pro'Verb said. "That's how we do."
(If you're interested, you can watch for Pro'Verb's upcoming "We Three Kings" mix tape with local rappers Rewind and Ransom Rellic and catch him on WPGC's "Ultimate Fight For The Mic.")
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