This rap video seems ordinary enough. Fancy cars, big stacks of cash, enough autotune that Future would approve and enough melody that Drake would too.
“I’m fishtailing in my whip, look like Usain Bolt,” rapper G-Cinco says at one point. “Look how my chain glow.”
He’s wearing a Supreme headband — because if you’re a rapper in 2018, you pretty much have to — and a No. 9 Seattle Mariners jersey. One of those Twitter accounts that shares new hip-hop songs tweeted the video last week with a caption that said, “THIS SONG GOES HARD AF,” which if you don’t know the slang means it’s good. There’s no song title or even an artist mentioned. The music, in this case, is supposed to stand on its own. And that’s exactly how G-Cinco wants it.
Why? Well sometimes that’s how it is when you have an alter ego.
Watch the video again, a little closer and you might catch a few clues. In addition to the cash and cars, he’s got a John Smoltz Braves jersey hanging on the wall, among other framed baseball jerseys. You’ll find plenty of rappers wearing Supreme these days. You won’t find many with Smoltz jerseys on their wall. Nor will you mind many people wearing a Dee Gordon Mariners jersey, seeing as Gordon was just traded to Seattle a couple months ago.
When G-Cinco says he’s been “straight ballin’ for a minute” he actually means it a little more literal than most rappers. Because G-Cinco’s other identity is Nick Gordon, a 22-year-old Minnesota Twins prospect, the little brother of Dee Gordon, the son of Tom Gordon. And, you know what, he’s a pretty good rapper for the current Travis Scott/Young Thug/Future/Migos-dominated hip-hop landscape.
This offseason, Nick Gordon came home and decided to show the world his musical side. He released an EP titled “I Do It All” in January, with accompanying videos for songs like “I’m the Man,” “I Do It All” and “Big Checks,” in which he’s wearing his brother’s jersey. It’s full of music he’d been working on for years, but never shared publicly. This year, he decided to show the world another side of himself, the other half of his personality. It’s something we see from time to time in pro sports, but not as often in baseball.
Nowhere in the videos or the EP cover or the songs, does it scream, “Look at me, I’m a pro baseball player.” That’s because his goal isn’t to get co-signed by baseball fans. It’s to get co-signed by music fans — many of whom may not even know who Nick Gordon is. Or what a baseball prospect list is, for that matter.
“When I’m making music,” Gordon told Yahoo Sports. “I don’t want them to refer to me as the baseball player who makes music.”
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When’s the last time you heard of a baseball player dropping a rap album?
There aren’t many. Marcus Stroman has rapped — as himself, mind you — with his ex-college teammate Mike Stud. Ken Griffey Jr. appeared on a song with Kid Sensation a long time ago. Coco Crisp released a rap song once. It was pretty good too. Trevor Bauer rapped once upon a time. Remember that? There’s John Williamson (aka Swilson), an ex-Chicago Cubs minor leaguer who could rap quite well, and left baseball to focus on it. The only other baseball player to release an actual rap album might be Deion Sanders, but then again calling Deion just a baseball player is a disservice to Deion.
This is somewhat uncharted territory for a young baseball prospect, but as MLB encourages — and, frankly, needs — more of its young players to show their personality, Gordon finds himself as somewhat of a trailblazer. In a sport that often pushes young players toward conformity, Gordon is 100 percent being himself.
Still, he was cautious before revealing his G-Cinco alter ego to the world.
“You definitely want to do things the right way,” Gordon told Yahoo Sports. “You don’t want people to feel like you’re losing focus. I ran it past my agent. I was a little more nervous to run it past my dad. I told my brother, but I tell my brother everything.”
Dee’s response? “Bro, go ahead.”
“My dad,” Nick says. “He’s heard a little bit of the music. He said ‘Son, I really like it.’ That felt pretty good.”
“My organization knows that I’m here to get the job done. I’m definitely serious about my career and my profession. I’m always a baseball player first.”
While baseball came from his family, music came from his friends. Nick started making music in middle school. It started when he met Julio Fernandez in sixth grade. Julio is a hip-hop producer who goes by the name July. They met at school and, at first, Fernandez didn’t believe him when Nick said his dad was a pro baseball player. So Nick invited him to his house and they’ve been friends ever since.
When Julio started making beats in junior, Nick wanted to start rapping over them. At one point, they had a rap group with another friend of theirs, Giovanni Adams (who goes by the rap name Gio Storm) named D-Squad. They did a few shows in their freshman and sophomore years of high school — even at the House of Blues in Orlando — but it was never anything Nick took too seriously. He was into baseball first and foremost.
“I wasn’t in it to sign a music deal or anything like that,” Nick says. “I was in it to have fun with my boys.”
Music was a hobby, something he did after baseball practices and after school. But over the years, he built up a vault of hundreds of songs. Dee used to tell Nick, “You got hits, but you don’t let anybody hear them.”
Late last year, that changed.
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There wasn’t a particular moment when a light bulb went off and Gordon decided to show the world his hip-hop side. He just came home after last baseball season and said, “I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna let people hear my music.”
As it turns out, someone beat him to the punch. He and his friends had made a music video for one of his songs, and someone — he says he still doesn’t know who — put it on the Internet. He only saw it when someone retweeted it into his Twitter timeline.
There was no backing down after that.
“He’s already great at what he does in baseball,” Fernandez says. “Why not have the whole world see he’s also great at rapping. You can do two things and love what you’re doing in both.
“Nick is like my brother, seeing him succeed in baseball or music, it doesn’t really matter to me, as long as he’s doing what he wants to do. That’s the important thing.”
With spring training here, you probably won’t hear too many new G-Cinco songs circulating.
“I don’t really have any plans for it right now,” Gordon says. “I’m definitely going to continue making music, but when it’s baseball season, it’s baseball season.”
As for the love — whether it’s someone saying his song “goes hard AF” or someone rating him well on a prospect list — he’ll happily take it.
“It feels good when people tell you they like the things you do,” Gordon says. “If someone’s telling you they like your songs, or they like the way you field ground balls or they like the way you swing the bat. It just pushes you to be better.”
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