Rapping keeps athletes laid backPublished 12:01am Thursday, July 26, 2012
NATCHEZ — If Tyler Harris isn’t seeing much action at third base for the T.M. Jennings 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars, he’s likely to start chanting.core
To the beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Harris begins chanting, “We are, we are a baseball team,” and other creative lyrics soon follow — even if Harris doesn’t exactly remember how they go.
“I just make something up off the top of my head,” Harris said.
Harris and his other teammates on the T.M. Jennings squad like to cut up by freestyle rapping, but Harris tries to branch off and not stick strictly to hip hop.
“I don’t like rapping,” Harris said, though he’s actually quite talented at coming up with rhymes. “I just like to listen to music.”
The musical talent works well for Harris — as long as he’s not trying multitask. If a gound ball was coming at Harris while he was freestyling, Harris admitted that he’d probably be in trouble.
“I don’t know what I would do,” Harris said. “I don’t have quick reflexes. My rhyming is quicker than my reflexes.”
Harris, along with teammates Tyrese Butler and Shavoke Herrington, are the rapping ringleaders when the baseball players are feeling inspired. Head coach Ernest Woods Sr. said when he inherited his team he didn’t realize some of them were lyrical poets.
“It was a surprise to me,” Woods said. “They’re multitalented I guess. When I heard them out there (rapping), I was like, ‘Whoa.’”
Often times, the T.M. Jennings players will use their freestyle rap to make fun of each other, but Woods said it’s all in good fun.
“They’re constantly teasing each other. They make up raps about each other,” Woods said.
Butler, who also goes by “Lil T” and “Platypus,” said the freestyle rap was something he and Herrington started doing at the Boys and Girls Club several years ago.
“There was a talent show, and they came up to Shavoke and me and asked me if we wanted to join in,” Butler said. “He came to my house, and we made up something.”
Butler said he went to his uncle’s house, since his uncle has a studio, and recorded their rhymes. When he and Herrington started doing it during baseball season, others soon joined in.
“We go to All-Star, we hit the ball over the park,” Butler rapped. “The only time we lose is when we don’t play smart.”
Herrington also chimed in, coming up with a quick set of lyrics that reflected the team’s attitude.
“We don’t play, every time we step up to the plate, we hit it across the gate,” Herrington rhymed.
Herrington said he draws his inspiration from rappers like Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Twista and Lil Boosie, and he’s been freestyling since he was little.
“I just spit out whatever comes to my mind,” Herrington said.
Even though they use their lyrics to tease each other, Herrington insisted that no one takes too much offense.
“Some of them get mad, like Chris Scott and Jaylin Pollard, because they don’t know how to rap,” Herrington said.
Even their coach doesn’t escape the players’ jokes, but Woods said he wouldn’t retaliate by trying to rap himself.
“No sir,” Woods said. “I don’t have that kind of talent.”
But as long as the players are having fun, Woods said he’s glad they cut up from time to time.
“It keeps them going and keeps things lighthearted,” Woods said. “They have fun.”