Interview: John Buccigross is ESPN’s Biggest Hip-Hop Nerd

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Buccigross SC

Words by Paul Meara (@PaulMeara)

The marrying of hip-hop and sports has a storied history. From St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason and his dad (Maseo of De La Soul) to (formerly) 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather, sports and hip-hop have been infused for the longest. Heck, look no further than ESPN’s recent screening of “The U Part II,” a 30 for 30 documentary representing the University of Miami’s second wave of success in football. During their reign of dominance it was Trick Daddy’s hometown mix of www.thug.com and Book of Thugs providing melodic fuel for the turn of the century ‘Canes.

Speaking of ESPN, there are fewer, albeit sporadic, instances of the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network meshing with urban culture. Lately though, they’ve attempted to rectify that. Nicki Minaj appeared on Sportscenter as recently as last week to plug her forthcoming album and toss the pigskin around. There has however, always been a hip-hop mainstay at the network and it isn’t an emcee, producer or even a misplaced figurative rap correspondent. It’s Sportscenter anchor John Buccigross and his informed yet eerily nuanced on-air shoutouts referencing everyone from Mobb Deep to 9th Wonder.

The self-proclaimed Bucci Mane and his hip-hop allusions during highlights are nothing new. He says it’s something he’s done even previous to joining ESPN in the mid-90s. It all stems from his love of the culture–something that began long before his anchoring days. Nah Right recently asked Buccigross about the on air rap references, his love of hip-hop and how it all started. What Darryl McDaniels is to Run-DMC, John Buccigross is to Sportscenter. Literally.

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