The baseball legend has been mentioned in some shape or form in more than 50 rap songs since 1998 and as recently as this fall.
Ripken said he’s more of a country fan, but credits the relatability of his record for making him a rap legend.
“I’m amazed how many people relate to the streak. It wasn’t about breaking Lou Gehrig's record. It was about values,” Ripken said. “I’ve heard people’s stories from being in the factory every day to teachers in the classroom.”
For rappers like A$AP Ant, the Baltimore-bred former A$AP Mob member, Ripken brings a dose of nostalgia into his music.
“I grew up watching baseball. Cal Ripken was ... like a Baltimore hero. Like how Ray Lewis is,” he said. “That’s the one thing that we got. When people don’t know Baltimore for nothing, they know Baltimore for Cal Ripken. Kids looked up to him and wanted to be him.”
Ant is one of the most recent rappers to feature Cal in his lyrics and the artwork for his single. Below, check out his song and the rest of Cal Ripken’s rap history.
Click the buttons to hear song samples.
Goin' hard to the extreme, why would you go half-assed? Call me the Cal Ripken of the industry.
Phife Dawg in “Lemme Find Out” from “Ventilation: DA LP” (2000)
Phife Dawg and Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest (Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post)
Ripken broke Gehrig’s record on Sept. 6, 1995, but it wasn’t until 1998 when he had already surpassed the record by 502 games, that he decided to end the streak. It was also this year that rap legends began to use the newly certified baseball legend in their lyrics.
The late Phife Dawg was Ripken’s biggest fan of this era, comparing himself to the Iron Man in two different songs. Lil Wayne would go on to reuse his Ripken line in the song “BM J.R.” from his 2004 album “Tha Carter.”
• A Tribe Called Quest on “That Sh— —” from “The Lost Tribes”: “On competition, we hittin' like Cal Ripken” (Phife Dawg)
• Lil Wayne in “Rap City Freestyle”: “I ain't trippin' boy, I play the corner like Ripken boy / With the 40 Cal Ripken boy, rip a boy”
Before Mitchell and Ness did it /I was moving birds like a Oriole fitted /
I'm Cal Ripken Jr. let's get it.
Jay-Z in “What They Gonna Do” from “The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse” (2002)
Jay-Z (Sean Gallager/Quad-City TImes/AP)
In the years after Ripken retired, he only got a few more mentions. But Jay-Z’s name drop, including one for Orioles gear designer Mitchell and Ness, on “The Blueprint 2” is one of the catchiest and most popular of all.
• XV’s “Whattup Swizzy” on his mixtape “The Definition 4”: “Got a Passion to be more like Cal Ripken.”
• 40 Cal. in “40 Cals” from the album “Broken Safety 2”: “Why these juniors after my name like Cal Ripken.”
• Tyga in “Live Forever” from his mixtape “Outraged and Underage”: “Ripken, for clowns who don't think the Cal hit s— —.”
Hall of Fame with the O's, Cal Ripken
Pusha T in Trae tha Truth’s “So far to go” in “Undisputed” (2011)
White college rappers Hoodie Allen and Mike Stud contrast with harder artists like Problem and Pusha T for a bizarre mark on a bizarre era for Ripken.
• Random (Mega Ran), a Philadelphia rapper, in “The Rock”: “Cal Ripken of spittin', no days off ... ”
• Hoodie Allen in “Flipping Out” from “Leap Year”: “I never take a day from work, I'm more like Cal E. Ripken.”
• Rone in a Grind Time Now rap battle: “I hit a homer with your Barbie and let the Cal' rip Ken.”
• Problem in his single “T.O.” and his hit song “Like Whaaat”: “Get a weight lift, reppin' Cal like Ripken I'm on fire right now.”
King Los (Baltimore Sun)
• Blast Holiday, a California rapper, in “Crack Republican” from “Voices of the Underworld”: “I'm tryna retire from them birds like Cal Ripken.”
• Mike Stud in “College Humor” from “A Toast to Tommy”: “I stay going hard, I'm Cal Ripken boy.”
• Baltimore rapper King Los in “Mercy (freestyle)”: “Come chop it up with Los we get them birds like we Cal Ripken / Then we chop em down to o's / Out the 410 what's poppin' b— —.”
• Orlando rapper J Buzzi in “48 Bar Rap,” a remix of the 2010 Chris Brown song: “I be staying in the game, Cal Ripken.”
• Albany, New York rapper Nick-nice in “Long Way to Go” from “Deli Swag vol 1: Break Face of Champions”: “I've never missed a day I'm like a junior Cal Ripken.”
I was born in '93 Cal Ripken was the man ... I got hits, a lotta hits just like Cal Rip
Baltimore rapper Lor Scoota in “Bird Flu (sports remix)” for 92Q (2014)
References in these years are slim, but come from a few big names like Tyga, Young Jeezy and Lil B. They’re mixed between referring to oneself as Ripken to mean legendary and selling drugs, a play on Ripken’s 3rd base position known as the “hot corner.”
In fall 2014, late Baltimore rapper Lor Scoota www.baltimoresun.com/citypaper/bcp-no-trivia-lor-scootas-crack-rap-hit-becomes-a-baltimore-orioles-anthem-20141014-story.html target="_blank" rel="noopener">recorded a “sports remix” of his local hit “Bird Flu” for Baltimore radio station 92Q to celebrate the city's sports teams. Switching out the hook of the original, an ode to drug-dealing, from “We're selling scramble, coke and smack” to “We rock purple orange and black,” Scoota name-checks Ripken twice in the family-friendly version of the song.
• Tyga on “Throw it Up” from his mixtape “Well Done 4”: “A n— — rep Cal like Ripken believe it or not you n— — Ripley.”
• DabSquadSlank, a Louisville rapper, on “Where is the Tree (and the dabs too)”: “Ball like a legend so they call me Cal Ripken ... ”
• Young Jeezy in Big Sean’s “It’s Time” from “Hall of Fame”: “Them boys round the corner wanna sell in that Cal Ripken.”
• Arsonal in a King of the Dot rap battle: “I stood on that corner with base like I’m Cal Ripken, damn.”
• Lil B in “Pretty Boy Music 2015” off of “Ultimate B— —”: “Hit a home run, you can call me Cal Ripken.”
Rap game Cal Ripken, no, wait, Ernest Givins
RiFF RAFF on “GO GET iT” from his album “Balloween” (2016)
With two decades past since Ripken broke Gehrig’s record, Ripken’s name started trending again. Baseball fans celebrated their excitement over the anniversary with #My2131 on Twitter and Instagram, while Ripken’s name got tossed around mostly by underground rappers.
RiFF RAFF is the only rapper to put another athlete above Ripken in the same line, likely as a nod to the Houston Oilers, RiFF RAFF’s hometown NFL team.
• LV Baby on “God Willing” from his album “Blu Moon”: “Cal Ripken / In the ninth-inning / Home run hittin' / Still might take a loss / But bet we knock it out the park.”
• Skippa Da Flippa on “WYT” from “Streets on Lock 4”: “So many homers like I was Cal Ripken.”
• Baltimore rapper Speed on the Beat raps over the campy 1980s Orioles run-out song “Orioles Magic (Feel It Happen)” in “Oriole Magic” from his album “Baltimore Commercial Break: From Juke Joints to Greatness”: “Used to be Ben McDonald — a touted rookie with the fire stuff / But I didn't know how to harness it, so I had to go and pack it up / Now a couple years later, I'm Cal Ripken.”
McDonald was the first (and until this year, only) player the Orioles selected with the first overall pick of the Major League Baseball draft, but his baseball career never quite matched up with the high expectations of that selection.
• Marv Won in a rap battle from King of the Dot, a Canadian league: “I said, ‘Rone, you wanna see this new cal?’ And he said, ‘Who, Ripken?’”
• Brizz Rawsteen in an Ultimate Rap League battle, talking about Baltimore member of the New York City league, Tay Roc: “Tell this Baltimore n— — get down when that Cal' spittin' / Or he'll (Oriole) get it across his chest like Cal Ripken.”
• Tay Roc mentions Ripken in another Ultimate Rap League battle: “I take both of you n— — out, I'm tryin' to save two bases / And see if when this Cal' rip Ken (Ripken) (can) your Babe Ruth take it.”
• Mango Foo on “Back Door” from “Ear Hustling”: “Pitching hardball, Cal Ripken.”
• Johnie Ray in “Spiteful”: “In Cal, Ripken all mics sliding home like I'm an O.”
• Baltimore rapper Tate Kobang in “Drip from my walk (freestyle)” from “Lord of Da Trenches”: “I play with them O's like Cal Ripken.”
• Charron, an Ottawa rapper, in a Bullpen Battle League rap battle: “Play a hard ball, then cal. rip Ken (Cal Ripken) next.”
• Skippa Da Flippa in “1000 bars” from “I’m Havin 2”: “She bought the 8 ball just like I’m Cal Ripken.”
Cal Ripken's hit a n— —, Ken Griffey (home run).
Takeoff in Cardi B ft. Migos’ “Drip” from “Invasion of Privacy” (2018)
Ken Griffey Jr. and Cal Ripken Jr. greet baseball legend Ted Williams at the 1999 All-Star Game. (Matt York/AP)
As Ripken’s streak nears a quarter of a century of fame, his name is still in the game from Baltimore rappers to the Billboard charts. Takeoff mentions another baseball hall of famer, Ken Griffey Jr., in one of the most popular songs to reference Ripken to date, Cardi B’s “Drip.”
• Baltimore rapper D. Yelv in “Cal Ripken” off of his “Cal Ripken” mixtape: “C-c-call me Cal Ripken” ...
“I’m tryna do it for the city baby, that’s why I call this Cal Ripken.”