It was probably inevitable. Ever since Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” started climbing the charts, becoming the unofficial theme song of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl run along the way, countless rappers have come out of the woodwork to adapt it for the colors of their favorite teams. Hence, The Game, Snoop Dogg & YG’s “Purp and Yellow” (LA Lakers), Fabolous’s “White and Navy” (NY Yankees, pretty weak Fab) and perhaps most famously, Lil Wayne’s “Green and Yellow” (Green Bay Packers, eventual Steeler slayers). So when All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks on Monday night — whose first name happens to brilliantly match both the meter and rhyme of Khalifa’s unavoidable hook — it was likely only a matter of time before some enterprising spirit laid a verse or two over Stargate’s now-iconic beat, honoring the ‘Melo Man’s arrival in the Big Apple.
What only the cynical suspected, perhaps, is that there would be more than one. By the next morning (at 4:00 AM, according to his Twitter), Brooklyn hip-hop hero Maino would have up a one-verse freestyle along this theme, entitled “Yeah, Carmelo.” This was all well and good, the interested public intersect of New York rap and basketball fans listened and enjoyed, and that was that. But later that afternoon, a rival emerged — lesser-known artist Judge Hyp, who weighed in with “Stat and Melo,” including New York’s incumbent superstar in the mix. Thanks to an aggressive social media campaign, Hyp’s version also gained momentum, scoring YouTube views by the thousands.
Now we have a problem.
Clearly, we can’t have two of these songs. Just as there was insufficient room for two biopics about Steve Prefontaine in the late-90s, two “Black and Yellow” rips inspired by Melo’s voyage East were not meant to peacefully co-exist. One must die so the other can live. So which shall be which? Let’s break it down and find us a winner.
Better Hook. First and foremost, we look at the titular hooks. “Yeah, Carmelo” has that sense of the affirmative, obviously, reflecting the feeling of excitement and release experienced by Knick fans upon hearing news of Melo’s arrival. (At least by those not huddled in a corner, ranting feverishly about Isiah Thomas trading half their team away.) But I prefer “STAT and Melo” for two reasons — because it follows the syllabic pattern of the original more closely, and because it remembers that that guy who’s been getting the “M! V! P!” chants from fans at MSG all season is still on the team. Great that you’re here and all, Carmelo, but you’re still only half the equation. (No room for you at all, Chauncey, sorry.) Adv: “STAT and Melo”
Points for Calling Out Other Teams: Lil’ Wayne was first on this, adapting part of the “Black and Yellow” pre-chorus to throw in a “Pittsburgh Steelers, that’s nothing” face slap. Judge Hyp follows his example here, opting for “Miami Heat, that’s nothing.” Maino instead decides to exorcise the demons of Knicks past by saying “Last season, that was nothing,” but really, those memories have been dead and buried for some time already. The ‘Melo acquisition is about the future, and that future includes having to throw down with the ol’ Miami Thrice. (God, we never did come up with a decent nickname for those guys, did we?) Adv: “STAT and Melo”
Better Geographical Specificity: Judge Hyp keeps things broad, a populist at heart, never referring to anything smaller than New York City at large. But Maino, a Bed-Stuy native himself, knows his boy and his borough well enough to give a shout-out to Red Hook, the neighborhood of the projects where Anthony spent his early years. Attention to detail — always appreciated. They got a real nice Ikea down there in Red Hook now, by the way. Wonder if Melo’s been yet. Adv: “Yeah, Carmelo”
Points for Shouting Out to Knicks Past: Let’s not forget that the entire appeal of coming to New York (besides the reality TV show opportunities afforded one’s life partner, anyway) is supposed to be the history element — of New York basketball, of the Garden, of the sporadically proud Knick franchise. Maino does in fact remember this, pointing out ‘Melo and Amar’e playing in “The same stadium as Ewing / Now who wanna try us?” It’s just a nice gesture to give No. 33 his propers, especially since the last time I can remember Ewing’s name being mentioned in a rap freestyle, it was Shaq rubbing his nose in his lack of rings. Classy. Adv: “Yeah, Carmelo”
Better Reference to Spike Lee: Can’t have a song about the New York Knicks these days without referencing their No. 1 fan, can we? Maino goes for “them floor seats, right next to Spike,” while Hyp claims to be “sitting in the same spot, like I’m Spike Lee.” Eh, can’t say I got a strong preference between the two. Plus, do we really wanna give this weirdo man-child any more attention than he’s already gotten this season? Adv: Draw
Points for Getting There First: As the Winklevoss Twins learned the hard way, there’s simply no compensating for first-mover advantage. When Maino exclaims at the end of his freestyle that “WE BEAT ‘EM TO THE PUNCH!!,” it’s unclear whether he’s taunting the New Jersey Nets and other NBA teams for not getting the Nuggets to pull the trigger on an Anthony deal before New York, or whether he’s cackling at being the first on the scene with the Black-and-Melo idea (shows what happens when you stay up till 4:00 in the morning, doesn’t it?), but it doesn’t really matter. Adv: “Yeah, Carmelo”
Better Repping of the Knicks’ Colors: As a song about team colors first-and-foremost, it would be gauche of either rapper to go the whole way without mentioning the scheme of the team in question, and luckily, both seize the opportunity. I like Maino getting it out there as the lead to his verse (“Blue jersey, orange stripe”), beaming with pride, and even mentioning Melo’s blue headband later on. But Hyp makes it the song’s show-stopper, as the beat winds down to a temporary halt at the end of his second verse, and he proclaims simply: “Two colors: Orange and Blue.” Strong move. Adv: “STAT and Melo”
Points for Getting Official Sponsorship: It seems only fair that we let those on the court at MSG have their say. Amar’e Stoudemire has come out on Twitter officially in support of “STAT and Melo,” and Judge Hyp’s page now describes him as “@Amareisrael Artist JudgeHyp” — though whether that status is unofficial or legally-binding is unknown to me. And as if that wasn’t enough, the tune got some burn over the MSG PA at the game last night, and Hyp even posted a Twitpic of special guest DJ Clue spinning the record for the occasion. The people have spoken. Adv: “STAT and Melo”
All right, “STAT and Melo,” looks like you get to stay. Sorry, Maino. We’ll always have that magical summer of “Hi Hater.”