With the NHL lockout firmly in place and both sides entrenched for what may be a long, drawn out battle, we’re taking this opportunity to explore the musical side of the National Hockey League. Each week, we’ll see what happens when hockey and music collide. Join us as we Rock Out for the Lockout.
Sasha Belyi with Alexander Ovechkin – “Champion”
Alex Ovechkin was having a rough time in 2011-12. Statistically speaking, he was in the midst of his worst NHL season; he posted only 38 goals and 27 assists that season, for 65 points in 78 games. He finished tied for 37th in the league in scoring, behind players like Ray Whitney and Jason Pominville. His coach had just been fired, and the phrase ‘coach killer’ was being uttered in the same sentence as his name.
Then his rap debut was released.
He could only hope that his street cred would make up for his falling hockey cred. You be the judge.
(Ovechkin takes on largely a supporting role, providing ‘rap hands’ and dancing until the 2:55 mark. Wait for it.)
Fedor Fedin of Russian Machine Never Breaks, a brilliant blog on the Caps and their Russians, provided a translation of Ovechkin’s lyrics:
Alumni of Dynamo, 8 on the back.
In the All-Star game, all attention is on me.
On the [National] Team since 17
Scored 100 points in a season
Gold medal in Canada in ’08
Among the ten best players of the decade,
Stick in my hands, rap in my headphones,
Saying hello from Washington,
Together with Sanya Belyi,
For every champion
[And then a bizarre sound that sounds like the English words “Look out!”]
Obviously, Ovechkin has much to learn about trash talking in rap battles.
First, there are 105 different NHL players who have recorded seasons with 100 points or more. Heck, Jimmy Carson did it twice.
Second, when you brag, it’s best to put yourself at the top – not just among the top ten of the past decade. That leaves you open to getting slammed by nine other guys when you throw down. I suppose when you still haven’t won a Stanley Cup, you have to leave that kind of room…
Third, of course all of the attention in the All Star Game will be on you when you do this:
MTV Russia did a feature on this interesting pairing of hockey and rap, including plenty of shaky camera work and uncomfortable outtakes. Even if you don’t speak Russian, it’s entertaining to watch.
How exactly did this partnership come about? Russian entertainment magazine Express, courtesy of alexovetjkin.blogspot.com, gives us the translated interview with Sasha Belyi.
“We’ve been friends with Alex for a long time. We are both athletes: I am judoka, he is a hockey player. We used to compete in karaoke bars on who would say more words per minute. I joked that he had no teeth, and he joked that he plays hockey. That was the main topic of the humor between us.”
“And then I had an idea.”
“This year I wrote a rap “Champion”, which is devoted to Alex. After Alex Ovechkin came back from his NHL season, he happily agreed to compete with me in reading rap. This rap is about Alex and the fact that every child is a champion at heart. I was very surprised how well he was rapping it.”
This was not Ovechkin’s first foray into the world of music. In the summer of 2010, he recorded a song with Russian rapper Roma Zhigan.
From an interview with radio station Mayak, courtesy courtesy of alexovetjkin.blogspot.com:
I recently recorded a song, it will be published later. I recorded it with Zhigan. You will hear it soon.
To be a rock star? I don’t have the looks. You need long hair, earrings in the nose and ears, and dye your hair, it is not me. I go to the parties for fun, I like being in places where it’s noisy and fun […] Now it’s time to enjoy the life while you can.
Nothing exists anywhere of this alleged collaboration, but if you’re still looking for your fill of Russian rap, here’s Zhigan, busting out his big hit “Russia”.
Note the sweet Russian folk song samples. Makes me think of Tetris.
Soon after “Champion” was completed, Russian newspaper Pravda, ever the reliable new source, published rumors of a collaboration between the talented winger and Eminem. In an interview with Life Sports, Ovechkin shared his desire to work with the Detroit-born rapper:
“It would be such an honor for me, because I am a big fan of Eminem. I always have his CDs in my car, and I would be very glad to meet him. By the way, Eminem’s 8 Mile film is just great,”
It didn’t take long for the Capitals to rain on everyone’s parade. Nate Ewell, Capitals VP of Communication, shot down the rumors faster than a drive by on the west side:
“Not to ruin everyone’s fun, but all signs I have point to the Ovechkin/Eminem story being false.”
We can always hope…
For the rest of the entries in this ongoing series,
don’t miss Now That’s What I Call Lockout!
Josh is a life-long hockey fan. He grew up as a fan of the New York Rangers, but thanks to their general mismanagement and years of mediocrity, has developed a great appreciation for every team across the league.
He’s been writing about hockey on various sites since 1995. In addition to his work at The Hockey Writers, he also keeps tabs on the referees over at ScoutingTheRefs.com.