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Scott Ostler

Chick's Laker 'Rap' Will Surely Tweak Ears of Celtic Fans

April 17, 1986|SCOTT OSTLER

The Boston Celtics and their fans are filled with contempt, loathing and--admit it now, Beantowners--envy for the Los Angeles Lakers.

They sneer at the Laker Girls, Jerry's girls, Riley's suits and Nicholson's leers. This is all well-documented. It's old news even now, a month before the Lakers and Celtics meet in the NBA final, as most world experts predict they will.

What the big series will need is something new, something to generate controversy and excitement by sticking in the Celtics' collective craw.

No problem, as we say out here in L.A.

Chick Hearn has just the thing. Chickie Baby has cut a record that Celtic people will love to hate. The record takes no shots at the Celtics, but it's exactly the type of Lakerism and L.A.-ism the Celtics find so gratingly offensive.

The chauffeur-driven, caviar-nibbling, Hollywood Lakers now have a 70-year-old radio and TV announcer--give or take a couple of years--who cuts rap records.

The record is called "Rap-Around." It's starting to get radio play. Dr. Demento, a local DJ with a nationally syndicated radio show, rated it No. 3 on his Funny Five last week. It's played at the Forum and on Laker telecasts. When the NBA final rolls around, CBS will surely play the record for the nation, and the Laker-Celtic rivalry will burn brighter.

"Rap-Around" was created by a struggling young music man named Dave Gillerman. He put it together with the help of an older music man and magazine copy editor named Dave Blume, who co-wrote the 1966 hit song "Turn-Down Day."

The two Daves made a list of Chick's basketball phrases and invited Chick into a studio, where he recorded the phrases, a capella.

Then Dave and Dave studied the tape until they found an essential rhythm, a tempo to Chick's delivery, and using that, they created a rhythm track.

Then the key ingredient: They fed Chick into a synthesizer device known as a sampler. The sampler spits back a word or phrase on command, as fast as you can punch the keyboard. The effect is kind of a high-tech echo or reverb, a word or phrase machine-gunned back at you.

It's a rap record, which means Chick talks instead of sings. You can dance to it. And rap along with lyrics like:

"I-I-I'm Chick I'm Chick I'm Chick Hearn . . .

"CoopCoopCoopCoopaloop . . .

"Slam dunkdadunkdadunkdunkdunkdunk! . . . "

They don't hardly write 'em like that anymore.

Hearn doesn't listen to much rap or disco type music, so he didn't know what to expect after performing his studio reading.

"I had no idea what they were talking about," Hearn said.

But he likes it.

"It's pretty damn good . . . for this type of thing," he said. "I don't think it's Chick Hearn, but its different. I never imagined myself being on record with anything like this."

Only in Lakerland.

I don't normally review records, even sports records, but a pace-setting columnist has a duty to keep his readers in the forefront of what's happening. Besides, this record is unique. It breaks three of the cardinal rules of sports or team records:

--A sports record must be filled with painfully corny lyrics and forced rhymes.

--A sports record must boast or brag about the subject, team or player.

--A sports record must be cute or maudlin.

"Rap-Around" is sort of cute, but, as Chick says, "It's got a great beat."

The Chicago Bears' "Super Bowl Shuffle" was a brag song, with corny rhymes and a fairly high cuteness quotient, and it sold a zillion copies when the Bears went to the Super Bowl. The two Daves who made "Rap-Around" would be happy to just break even on their investment of about $10,000.

The Celtics will promote the record by scorning it. Certainly the Celtic fans will hate it. Secretly they'll be jealous that somebody in Boston didn't think of it first.

Someone probably will try to record a duet featuring Celtic announcer Johnny Most and team President Red Auerbach, but it will be four minutes of growls and whines and will sell two copies.

No, Chickie Baby has 'em beat. "Rap-Around" will shoot up the charts. For the NBA final, he'll arrive at the Forum in a limo, wearing shades and a silk baseball-style jacket, escorted by a flotilla of rock-star entourage types.

It's just the touch the series needs.

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