The 8 Most Iconic Sports Jersey Moments in Rap Videos

From the era when jerseys reigned supreme, these are some of their most iconic moments in rap videos.

Fab Bow Wow Dupri MSG 2002 Getty

Fabolous, Bow Wow and Jermaine Dupri during Bow Wow In Concert at Madison Square Garden at Madison Square Garden in New York City

Fab Bow Wow Dupri MSG 2002 Getty

Sports and rap have always been inextricably linked. Rappers from every coast have donned their favorite team on a hat or Starter jacket throughout hip-hop history. But from 2000-2004, you couldn’t watch a rap video without spotting a jersey. Rappers sometimes wore two or three in a single video, usually with no connection to the team or player. Thus, the Jersey Era of the early 2000’s was born.

During this time, throwback jerseys were being produced and sold at a record rate, thanks in large part to Mitchell & Ness, a Philadelphia sporting goods store that had been stitching and repairing jerseys since 1904. They began producing and selling licensed throwback baseball jerseys in the late 1980’s, with the NFL, NBA and NHL eventually following suit in the late 1990’s. The early 2000’s was the moment when it all came together. There were more throwbacks than ever available for consumption and a plethora of rappers who were more than ready to break them out in their music videos. Mitchell & Ness’s business boomed and they expanded to a larger showroom in Philadelphia. They also began selling their approved apparel at retailers around the country, thanks in large part to the rappers rocking their incredible products on television every single day.

Like all waves of fashion, the Jersey Era eventually faded, although vintage sportswear will always have its place in the culture. Go to any summer music festival today and you’ll see plenty of jerseys in the crowd. Mitchell & Ness still churns out excellent product and has secured exclusive rights to produce Michael Jordan jerseys in recent years, but even they have placed a larger emphasis on headwear, clothing and accessories to adapt with the industry’s changing fashion landscape, as well as offering more affordable versions of their timeless pieces with baseball batting practice jerseys, replica football jerseys and “Swingman” basketball jerseys.

But the era left us with some memorable visuals and classic records. Here are some of the most iconic moments from the era when jerseys reigned supreme:

Let’s Get It (G-Dep feat. Diddy and Black Rob)

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Puff Daddy is no stranger to a black and white music video aesthetic. He created a classic with 1994’s “Flava In Ya Ear (Remix)” with the visual’s raw simplicity, then resurrected it in 2002 with G-Dep’s “Special Delivery (Remix).” But here, on 2001’s Bad Boy crew cut “Let’s Get It,” Puff turns on the lights and lets the black leathers and furs shine against a bright white backdrop as only he can, while in the process creating a simple, yet legendary, jersey moment.

Sauntering out, spitting his opening bars “Call me Diddy, I run this city,” rocking the forever classic Charles Woodson white Raiders jersey is an enduring moment of the jersey era, proving that the jersey didn’t have to be a throwback to be iconic. Draped in training tights, batting gloves and wrist bands, Puff took the baller aesthetic to unforeseen literal heights, and the Woodson jersey served as a visual centerpiece for a fun, stylish video. Other black and white jerseys made appearances throughout—a white Raiders Tim Brown and a black Spurs Tim Duncan, for instance—but nothing would top the Woodson, and very few jerseys (from any sport) could. No matter if it was in black or white, the No. 24 Raiders jersey will forever remain one of the freshest jerseys ever produced, thanks in large part not only to the legendary defensive back who put up Hall of Fame numbers in it, but the mogul who Diddy bopped in it.

Trade it All Remix (Fabolous feat. Jagged Edge and Diddy)

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If you’re looking for a music video to perfectly encapsulate the entire jersey craze of the early 2000’s, the “Trade it All (Remix)” is the video I would show you. Like many of Fab’s videos from that era, it has crazy variety and countless classic jersey selections, starting with Fab’s Kobe Bryant blue Lakers throwback (with the matching bandana OVER the fitted, of course).

Fab sitting on the bench, rapping to his roller skating love interest in a Willis Reed jersey-dress is throwback love at its finest. Other highlights include Fab and Puff wearing the Joe Namath/Eric Dickerson Rams combo during Puff’s verse. The house party scene features such a wide variety of random pieces, most notably Puff’s Houston Astros jersey and Fab’s Phoenix Suns jersey, not to mention Jagged Edge’s dizzying array of classics (that “Pistol” Pete Maravich Atlanta Hawks, particularly). Sometimes too many jerseys makes for a cluttered video, but Fab always finds a way to string together so many classic selections that his videos stand the test of time.

Can’t Deny It (Fabolous feat. Nate Dogg)

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Look, you don’t rap “you ever have Mitchell & Ness tryin’ to sponsor you?” if you aren’t the undisputed Jersey King of your time, which Fab definitely was. We could have made a list of just Fab’s jersey choices throughout his music video catalog. Remember his coming out party in Lil’ Mo’s “Superwoman” video when we broke out the Seahawks Ricky Watters, Titans Eddie George and the Falcons Jamal Anderson jerseys? He came out of the gate on fire, and continued that with his first single, “Can’t Deny It.”

This video is so good because Fab ditched the randomness of jersey selection and instead opted for a classic red, white and blue theme which yielded some incredible options as far as jerseys go. You’d be hard-pressed to find a jersey hotter than the Julius Erving 76ers one from the late 70’s with the stars lining the sides. Fab doubles down on Dr. J by breaking out the rare Virginia Squires jersey from his ABA days (more on that in a moment), and finishes off the trifecta with the Jerry Rice San Francisco 49ers jersey. Other jerseys fitting the motif make appearances on members of the supporting cast—there’s DJ Clue with the Larry Bird All-Star jersey and Nate Dogg in a Lamar Odom Clippers jersey—but Fab’s selection of timeless pieces set in front of a massive American flag is what gets remembered.

Grindin' (Clipse)

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Speaking of the classic Virginia Squires Dr. J piece, who better to don that jersey on his debut single than Pusha T, a true Virginia legend, on Clipse’s breakout hit “Grindin’?”

Pusha and Malice were never known for their jersey selection throughout their storied careers, instead often opting for simpler wardrobe choices during the duo’s early years, but coming out of the gate with the Dr. J Squires jersey and Malice’s Nate Archibald Kings jersey—both in cocaine white, surely not an accident—was an excellent choice. The video was Virginia through and through thanks to Clipse, Pharrell and Dr. J, but the song and the video transcended the region and permeated pop culture.

Roc Da Mic (Beanie Sigel feat. Freeway)

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There are a lot of videos that played up the artist’s region of origin and showcased dozens of local legendary jerseys. Jermaine Dupri and Ludacris’ “Welcome to Atlanta” and the ensuing remix are great examples. Nelly’s “Country Grammar” is another. But much like “Grindin’,” Beanie Sigel and Freeway’s “Roc Da Mic” finds a way to remain iconic not by over-saturation, but by a simple pairing of local heavyweights.

The video starts with Beanie Sigel and Freeway walking into a club/venue and stepping on stage. Before Sigel can even utter the words “It’s B Sig in the place with Young Free,” he tears off his jacket and exposes his Allen Iverson rookie throwback with a red bandana. Within seconds, the entire State Property gang—and seemingly all of Philadelphia—are bouncing behind them on stage and complete chaos has ensued. Philly had officially taken over.

Sigel was Philly’s heart and soul back then, so to see him perform a Philly classic in an Iverson throwback was important (so important that we can even excuse him for wearing a Jerry West Lakers jersey just a few seconds later in the video). It was also enough to make up for that Bobby Hoying Eagles jersey selection in the “Money, Cash, Hoes (Remix)” video a few years earlier. Freeway’s Clyde Drexler Rockets jersey was underrated and Peedi Crack sported his own Iverson rookie jersey in the background, but Mack stole the show.

Way of Life (Lil’ Wayne feat. Big Tymers and TQ)

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This video makes the list for blowing the budget on an unlimited selection of classic jerseys. It really has everything. You get Baby and Wayne wearing the matching Jim Everett Saints jerseys in an ode to their hometown of New Orleans. They cornered the market on seemingly every 75th Anniversary NFL throwback Mitchell & Ness ever produced (Everett, Jerry Rice 49ers, Randall Cunningham Eagles, John Elway Broncos, Drew Bledsoe Patriots etc.). TQ breaks out the powder blue Lance Alworth Chargers jersey. There’s even the sheer randomness of jerseys like Warrick Dunn, Peter Warrick and Reggie Miller sprinkled in amongst so many classics.

Much like the “Trade it All (Remix)” video, this one had everything. Most importantly, it had a rising Lil’ Wayne and a thriving Baby rocking some of the best throwback jerseys ever produced.

Oh Boy/Hey Ma (Cam’ron and Juelz Santana)

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Lumping these two videos together into one entry isn’t meant to discredit either, it’s just that stylistically they feel like a natural pairing.

“Oh Boy” opts for a red, white and blue color scheme similar to that of Fabolous’ “Can’t Deny It” and once again, it yields tremendous results. Juelz’s Wes Unseld Bullets jersey is one of the era’s defining and most sought after jerseys. While Cam doesn’t go the traditional jersey route, his selection of the late 70’s 76ers warmup jacket is impeccable, adorned with stars and a silhouette of Philly’s Independence Hall. In a video with a Chanel ski hat, Burberry Timbs and NBA logo leather jackets in every color, the red, white and blue Mitchell & Ness pieces remain the most iconic style moments of this classic video.

While “Hey Ma” might best be known stylistically for the assortment of custom DipSet basketball jerseys and Cam’s all-white track suit, Juelz’s selection of the Magic Johnson All-Star jersey is fantastic and proves once again that the red, white and blue palette works every time.

Best of Me (Remix) (Mya feat. Jay-Z)

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This isn’t a “jersey video” per se, but it definitely has a “jersey moment.” Before Jay admonished his peers for wearing jerseys and insisting on throwing on a button up, he frequently rocked jerseys at concerts and in music videos. Just search “Jay-Z Hard Knock Life tour” and you’ll get a gallery of jerseys he wore on stage. He’s performed multiple times wearing Latrell Sprewell jerseys—Knicks AND Warriors—even during his iconic Summer Jam performance in 2001. He performed at the VMAs that same year in a Michael Jordan Bulls jersey. While he may have eventually outgrown the craze, he definitely enjoyed it while it lasted.

But this isn’t about Jay! This entry is in appreciation of Mya, the lone female on this list, for breaking out the Michael Jordan UNC jersey dress. Yes, her and Jay matched during their shared scenes, but it was Mya who stole the show. It was a rare sight to see an R&B diva wearing a jersey, but wearing the G.O.A.T.’s jersey alongside the Mike Jordan of recording? Iconic.

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