Hip hop, like hockey, is ever-evolving. Whether they’re formulaic or innovative, all NHL players and rappers possess a style to call their own — and each field is influenced by its leaders. All it takes is one person to completely shift the trajectory of their respective industries. The wild creativity of both industries is built on the best. On the surface, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. But if you take a closer look, the dexterous styles of Pavel Datsyuk and Andre 3000 are practically mirror equivalents. From hip hop moguls to hockey’s best, here is a list of current NHL players and their rapper equivalents.
How NHL Players and Rappers Were Chosen
While we could go back and grade the greats of history like Wayne Gretzky or The Notorious B.I.G., it seems more prudent to showcase modern talents in today’s era. With the way both industries have evolved recently, comparing different eras would be an injustice to both sides. With that being said, NHL players and their rapper equivalent were graded on the following scale:
Innovation: the way they evolved their respective art.
Creativity: how uniquely have they showcased their talents?
Versatility: when deployed in a different situation, how have they adjusted?
Legacy: how will they be remembered?
Connor McDavid: Kendrick Lamar
Both Connor McDavid and Kendrick Lamar got started in their careers at very young ages. While McDavid’s inaugural season was rife with injury, Kendrick’s first mixtapes left a lot to be desired. McDavid and Kendrick were both snubbed from awards they should have won — the Calder in McDavid’s case and the 2015 Grammys in Kendrick’s. Both eventually went on to earn a slew of nominations. From McDavid’s two Art Ross trophies to his Hart, his trophy case shows a wild amount of innovation, versatility, and creativity. Kendrick Lamar has won 13 Grammy awards and a Pulitzer Prize with his most recent album DAMN. Both of their legacies are cemented for the future as the greatest of their generation. How far they’ll excel will depend on how the future treats them. The sky’s the limit for Kendrick and Connor.
Patrick Kane: Kanye West
Patrick Kane’s best comparison in the world of hip hop is none other than the eponymous Kanye West. Both of these wickedly creative artists have revolutionized their genres, inspiring generations of talent for years to come. When they collaborate with rookies or up-and-comers, they manage to elevate them to higher heights than ever seen before. They both have their share of controversies, as well. Kanye’s infamous Taylor Swift incident and Kane’s taxi-driver fiasco have forced both to look inward and focus on what matters: the work. Kanye and Kane, while hated by a few, still manage to inspire younger generations and will be remembered for years to come.
Auston Matthews: Drake
Love him or hate him, Auston Matthews is at the top of his game this season. He’s become the Drake of the NHL — an iconic, confident, and supremely talented individual. Every time you think you’ve seen what Matthews has to offer, he shows another level to his performance. Similarly, Drake has shown us all that he can top the charts with as little as a featured verse. Whether it’s a chart-topping hit or a Hart-worthy campaign, both Drake and Matthews have shown no signs of letting up on the gas. Because of their status in the limelight, both are often critiqued or overanalyzed for their performances. Ultimately, they’ll both be remembered among the top players and artists of their respective fields — even if the media thinks otherwise.
Nathan MacKinnon: Travis Scott
Energy is the name of the game for these two titans. Nathan MacKinnon’s style of play keeps your eyes glued to the puck every time he touches it. Similarly, Travis Scott’s high-energy, maximalist style of music is enough to cause anyone to stop and listen in. They’ve both been consistently talented in their own right, but each reached higher heights with breakout seasons and albums. MacKinnon’s 2017-18 season showed us what Colorado Avalanche fans already knew: he would be an elite talent for years to come. Travis Scott had a similar breakout with his album Astroworld — though those who have been around since the Days Before Rodeo era will note how he’s always been this talented. Get used to seeing these two names for a long time: they’ll be around for a very long time.
Alex Ovechkin: Future
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s been the motto for Alex Ovechkin and Atlanta rapper Future, and it’s paid off in spades for both of them. Where the Great Eight is known for top-tier shots from the faceoff square, Future is renowned for his consistent approach to creating hits. On the surface, it might seem like they’re both doing the same thing every time — but closer inspection shows so much nuance to their games. They’re both known for their fun public personas and their ability to collaborate with just about anyone. Where Ovechkin will be remembered for his goal-scoring, Future will be remembered for his hits — and they both still have plenty left in the pipeline.
Sidney Crosby: J. Cole
Sidney Crosby and J. Cole are both unique in their ability to polarize fanbases. Where some laud Cole and Crosby for their creativity and the subtle details in their art, many criticize them for their earlier work. Love them or hate them, there’s no denying their talent. Crosby’s game-breaking 120-point season is on par with Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive in that they’re still brought up to this day. They’ve shown their stuff in just about every avenue and have nothing left to prove — yet they’re both still pushing the limits of their skills. No matter what the future holds for these two, their legacies are set in stone.
Joe Thornton: Juicy J
How does he keep doing it? At 41 years of age, Joe Thornton is still playing high-level hockey, still one of the great names among all NHL players, with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Juicy J, just a few years older than Thornton, is still innovating and elevating the world of hip hop. While both have taken a mentorship role, they’re still highly capable on their own. Additionally, their initial styles have aged like a fine wine. Thornton’s pass-first play translates well with his age, while Juicy J’s braggadocious lyrics and catchy flow could fit on just about any song. In the future, these two juggernauts will be remembered for their timeless styles. The games wouldn’t be the same without them.