Yesterday, millions of sports-entertainment fans around the globe mourned the death of wrestling icon Dusty Rhodes. The common man son of a plumber whose battles with Ric Flair, "Macho King" Randy Savage, and "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase were among the most memorable of all time, Rhodes was a main event star in every promotion he entered. His influence and legacy in the wrestling world will continue through his sons, Dustin "Goldust" Rhodes and Cody "Stardust" Rhodes. Rhodes' inspiring charisma also made him a frequent reference point in the hip-hop world. In tribute to the "American Dream," we've assembled (what we believe to be) the first collection of the best Dusty Rhodes references in hip-hop.
7L and Esoteric - "Ring Music (Featuring Beyonder)" Starting things off we have a sample from Rhodes himself. Boston hip-hop duo 7L and Esoteric opened their DC2: Bars of Death album with a sample of Rhodes' famous "Hard Times" promo, a wrestling interview where he conveyed the plight of industrialization in Ronald Reagan's U.S. economy through his feud with the Four Horsemen. While Rhodes' comments were recorded in 1985, 2004's "Ring Music" captures how timeless Rhodes' output truly was.
Lil Wayne - "Tha Carter IV Intro""Millz in this bitch, he said fuck them hoes / And the jewelry bright, like summer clothes / And I keep some bud, like Rudy Huxtable / I'm bout to slam the beat, nigga Dusty Rhodes" Rhodes was a longtime cornerstone of the National Wrestling Alliance promotional body which largely ran in the southern markets, making him a frequent go-to point for southern rappers of the '90s and early 2000s. Lil Wayne discovery of three different ways to rhyme "Dusty Rhodes" on the opening to his Carter IV album didn't go unnoticed by the Dream himself; when Wayne suffered health complications in early 2013, Rhodes lead an online campaign to get his social media followers to pray for Weezy's recovery. Lil Wayne pulled through and managed to go "to the pay window" another day.
LL Cool J - "Fuhgidabowdit (featuring DMX, Method Man, and Redman)"I'm bananas, out of my fuckin mind they won't let me back in / Cuz I was down before the hype like Dusty Rhodes and Bob Backlund" There hasn't been a whole lot of analysis on rhyme veteran LL Cool J's early 2000s work, but revisiting it now finds some pretty well-crafted gems. To give some context to this line from his 2000 song "Fuhgidabowdit," it was released at a time when wrestling was at its all-time highest popularity; WWF and rival WCW were generating hundreds of millions of dollars with high production values and hours of weekly television programs. Hip-hop was a bigger commercial entity than ever by that point as well. But since Cool J goes way back in rap, he likened himself to the pre-popularity explosion grapplers of yesteryear in Dusty Rhodes, as well as Minnesota's own Bob Backlund. Coincidentally, both Rhodes and Cool J made an appearance at this past March's Wrestlemania 31.
Action Bronson - "Drug Shit""The .44 long, surely got a trusty hove / Tryna live the American dream, Dusty Rhodes, yeah" Action Bronson's no stranger to wrestling references, frequently naming everyone from Marty Jannetty to Barry Horowitz in between bars about food conjuring various emotions in women. Bronson's sly inclusion of a Dusty Rhodes reference at the end of "Drug Shit" shows what an easily understandable touchstone Rhodes was. Known as "The American Dream" for numerous reasons (he's an outlaw cowboy who extolled the virtues of hard work after coming from nothing, emulating like the common man, etc.) Bronson's casual dropping of his name just feels right.
Outkast - "Southernplayalisticcadillacmuzik""Time to drop these 'bows like Dusty Rhodes / Then I yell 'Ho!' / We knocking em off they feet like a Southern hustler supposed" Probably the most famous reference to Dusty was on the title track from Outkast's debut album, 1994's "Southernplayalisticcadillacmuzik." Again, we find the tie between Outkast being from Atlanta and the National Wrestling Alliance running in the south, a regional quirk that frequently made wrestlers akin to the comic book superheroes in the early days of hip-hop. Andre 3000's name-dropping of Dusty and allusion to his signature move, the Bionic Elbow, helped put the "Southern" in "Southernplayalisticcadillacmuzik."