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How Did Snoop Dogg And Queen Latifah Come To Rework “Rapper’s Delight” For ESPN?

Music director Kevin Wilson explains how the hiphop icons fashioned the iconic song to help celebrate ESPN's 40 years on the air

On Sept. 7, 1979, ESPN went on the air, making founder Bill Rasmussen’s dream of creating the first-ever 24/7 sports network a reality.

On Sept. 16, 1979, the Sugarhill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight.”

Both would continue to have a lasting impact on their fans for many decades to come.

Ahead of its 40th anniversary, ESPN worked with hiphop legends Snoop Dogg and Queen Latifah to remake two versions of the iconic hit.

ESPN’s music director Kevin Wilson talked about the collaborative effort that went into bringing ESPN-centric versions of “Rapper’s Delight” to reality.

How did this idea come about?

We really felt that the song that brought rap to the masses debuting about one week after ESPN, which brought sports to the masses, was a super fun connection and great way to celebrate the network’s four decades on air.

Initially, we wanted to do something unique to celebrate our anniversary. We were looking into maybe doing a SportsCenter remix of a fun, classic song.

When we were talking with Ty Cannon [head of artists and repertoire at Aftermath Entertainment] and bouncing the idea around, he suggested the fact that “Rapper’s Delight” was released 40 years ago and could be a great fit. He then worked with Focus, the son of [bassist] Bernard Edwards from [dance/pop band] Chic – “Rapper’s Delight” is based on their song “Good Times” – to help the idea come together.

How did Snoop Dogg and Queen Latifah get involved in the project?

Talking with Ty, we bounced around names and Snoop had to be one. We were looking for folks who would be willing to have fun with it. It would also be great if they were sports fans and fans of the network. Snoop and Queen are icons and amazing talents. The fact that one was from Los Angeles and one was from New York City was a fun element as well.

Who wrote the ESPN-themed lyrics?

Both artists did. We suggested topics, names, etc…, but left the creative completely up to them.

ESPN senior creative director <strong>Chris Mantzaris</strong>, who directed the live action and produced the videos added:
“It was a true team effort. The on-site logistics were only possible with the dedicated support of the entire team at ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center including Rachel Busch, Tony Perez, Gary Reynolds, Michael Wilson, Jeff Geremia, Renata Sedzmir, Kalonna Davis, Renee McKnight and many others across the network.”

Watch the two versions of ESPN’s “Rapper’s Delight” remix below featuring Snoop Dogg and Queen Latifah. The videos also feature a few appearances by ESPN employees and on-air personalities.

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