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Carl Crawford, Megan Thee Stallion And MLB’s Hip-Hop Connection

A former outfielder with MLB money and Texas roots fueled the rise of rap music's latest Billboard-charting star.

Image Credit: Twitter Screen Shot

Former Major League outfielder Carl Crawford had a super solid MLB career, playing 15 years, accumulating over 1,900 hits with a lit .290 career batting average. In addition, he’s a four-time AL stolen base leader and All-Star.

These days, Crawford has stormed the music scene in the same All-Star fashion that he played baseball, and is known as the CEO of 1501 Certified Entertainment. The record label is an imprint he launched with childhood friend and Houston legend T. Farris, who was a part of the infamous Swishahouse record label.

Crawford’s post-baseball life is shaping up to be more groundbreaking than his baseball career.

It’s been a “Perfect Storm”. 

Recently, the world found out that Crawford orchestrated the rise of one of the hottest and most compelling new artists in the music industry — Megan Thee Stallion.

Crawford, a native of Houston’s Fifth Ward, honed his baseball skills through MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, geared towards developing, inspiring and sustaining African-American participation from the grassroots on up. 

He was a star among Black Knights in the game and one of the few African-American households faces. He played his first nine years with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the American League, helping to lead the team to its only World Series appearance in 2008. 

In 2010, Crawford signed a huge 7-year, $142-million contract with the Boston Red Sox and then ended his career with four years in Los Angeles, where he refined his connections in the entertainment industry. 

He’s also the ex-husband and baby’s daddy of Basketball wives star and celebrity lightning rod Evelyn Lozado. 

Crawford helped Megan become the first female artist to get a plush deal with 300 Entertainment. 

The former Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder told TMZ back in May —  when Megan’s debut album Fever hit the Billboard 200 charts at No. 10 —  that he spent a hefty bag to jump off the label.

“It was at least seven figures,” he said. “I’ll tell you that. And that’s because I built a studio and all that other stuff. I had other artists and stuff like that … Megan is the one who just took off.”

Crawford’s label provided Megan with the notoriety and resources she needed to make her ascension through the hip-hop ranks. That’s why he says he felt blindsided by her inking a management deal with Roc Nation.

“For whatever reason, I wasn’t kept in tune about it,” he said, adding “It doesn’t affect me as a label at all. She’s still signed to us. She’s able to have a manager to do stuff with her and stuff like that. It’s no big deal. She’s still signed to 1501 so I just deal with that part.”

Loyalty Vs. Celebrity: The Black Cardi B

MLB’s Black Knight of music sat down with Off the Porch last week and talked about discovering the creator of “Hot Girl Summer” and the sexy big-dripping rapper that has taken the world by storm in a very short time. 

In fact, Megan’s situation is comparable to Cardi’s in a lot of ways. Cardi was a former stripper who had success on IG and LHHH reality series and then was taken under the wing of former Bad Boy super-producer and KSR Record company owner Shaft, who also manages Hood Celebrityy of “Walking Trophy” and “Bumponit” fame. 

Shaft helped Cardi rise to almost overnight fame and then she dumped Shaft to sign with her husband Offset’s management company Quality Control and the former Dream Team is now embroiled in a bitter court battle over money. 

 

Fortunately, it didn’t come to that with Crawford and Megan. Megan’s still signed to Crawford’s record label and it’s business as usual. She’s still shining and rising in popularity with every appearance, IG post, collaboration, and accolade.  

The Beat Goes On 

In May, she released her critically acclaimed mixtape Fever and controlled the charts over the summer with songs “Cash Shit” featuring DaBaby, peaking at number 36, and “Hot Girl Summer” featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $sign, peaking at number 11. 

Megan will headline the Most Wanted Festival on December 13th with performances by her love interest Moneybagg Yo, Boosie Badazz, Polo G, NoCap and Black Fortune along with special guests.

 

MLB BETTER CALL CARL 

Critics of MLB’s marketing say that the league doesn’t know how to market to African-Americans and hasn’t been able to fuse hip-hop culture with its commercials and broadcast. 

Little does baseball know but in some way, it is playing a huge role in Crawford’s swift rap rise with Megan, a fellow Houston Texas native. 

The money, connections, influence and business savvy he gained to be able to make waves in the ultra-competitive, unapologetically black and edgy rap business after a career as a baseball player come from his connection to the streets. 

Being a Black MLB star from Texas is as rare as being a rap influencer from the Lone Star State, so he stayed connected with Farris (who managed legendary Houston spitters Paul Wall and Mike Jones) as both men began making a high-level impact in their respective fields of sports and music.  

“For me, I just knew exactly where to go,” he said. “This the home of J. Prince, Rap-A-Lot, so we had experience with seeing people be successful … doing what I’m tryna do, so that was a blueprint laid right there.”

Natural Fit 

MLB and Crawford need to be working together more closely, in a similar way to how Jay Z has agreed to work with the NFL to address “Black” issues through an entertainment deal of some sort. 

Crawford could help bridge that gap between inner-city minority youth and the sport of baseball. 

How come Megan hasn’t toured every baseball stadium in the United States?

 I know the game is considered a wholesome family event and Megan is oozing with sexuality, but she’s already a celebrity and an inspiration to Millenials as she takes college courses, studies and promotes a strong, positive, empowering female image to her fans. 

You want baseball to be cool right?

Then get the artists that the younger generation digs to be a part of the sales pitch. 

Maybe that’s all wishful thinking, but it’s undeniable that Crawford has an eye for talent and vision.  

Why Megan Thee Stallion? 

With so many women rapping these days, what made Crawford sign Megan and think she could succeed in a male-driven industry? 

 “It was rawness, something different. Her sound was unique,” Carl explained. “In Houston, we never had a rapper embrace sexuality like she did. Most of the girls in Houston, they want to rap like the dudes. That was the first time I saw a girl from Houston dancing and rapping.”

And Megan clearly has her own lane as her main two competitors, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, are from New York. 

The South hasn’t had a female rap star of this magnitude — ever. Trina was dope, but she wasn’t charting like Megan out the shoot. 

Maybe Craw and MLB can hook up and start bridging the cultural gap between baseball and this new generation of multicultural kids seeking the coolest activities to post to IG. 

The Marketing Possibilities Are Endless 

Hot Girl Summer” could have been used as a campaign by MLB to attract more young women to the game of baseball as the pennant races heated up and MLB was at its pre-playoff peak. 

In 2013, I attended a Mets game at Citi Field where rapper Nas performed after the game

Fans had an option to stay or leave, but many people of all ages and races remained and enjoyed the show. 

Imagine all of the new faces and revenue streams MLB teams could attract if Megan Thee Stallion was performing live on the field after the game? 

Baseball has a reputation of being a sport that doesn’t appeal to athletes of color and doesn’t go out of its way to gain that popularity with inner-city youth or connect to its own Black roots. 

In reality, the spirit of hip-hop has been present at MLB stadiums for the past two decades in guys like Carl Crawford, through his Houston roots and the deep connection between sports, MLB’s diversity programs, and music. 

He might be the respected, former player that MLB wants to sit down and do some diversity business with in the future.

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