When LeBron James was awarded his second NBA Finals MVP trophy shortly after winning his second NBA Championship last month, he celebrated by raising both his arms up high. With his palms open, some 10 feet off the ground and facing the world, James’ thumbs and index fingers joined. It’s a hand gesture he’s flashed on basketball’s big stages — NBA Finals, NBA All Star Game intros — for several years now. This gesture is known as “throwing the roc”, which is really just a hip way of saying someone is using their hands to make a diamond shape, which in turn represents Roc-A-Fella records, Jay-Z’s hip hop label (Damon Dash also a co-founder, so I wonder if Dame had as much to do with the Roc sign as Jay).
That James, the biggest and best athlete on earth, flashes this sign would be a bigger deal if Jay, his wife Beyonce, and his friend Kanye West — who all “throw the roc” with regularity — aren’t currently the biggest names in entertainment and completely dominating US pop culture, which, in turn, is the major driving force behind world pop culture.
The very first post of this blog wondered if Jay is the most famous figure in all of entertainment right now, given that dude is, literally, everywhere. Obviously he’s all over music and hip hop news, but he’s also producing films (scoring big budget blockbusters like Great Gatsby and producing/promoting small indie flicks like An Oversimplification of Her Beauty), running a sports agency, partly-owned an NBA team, produced the hottest selling sports video game, took part in the reelection campaign of the most famous world leader on earth, and is married to a pop diva who’s also everywhere herself and, judging from Twitter reactions following her concert in LA two nights ago, is the greatest performer ever.
So between Jay, Ye, Bey, and LBJ (to continue the rhyme) throwing the roc, this is some pop culture dominance by a small group the likes of which we’ve never seen. Like I’ve blogged about before, that hip hop (and black culture) is now synonymous with “cool” worldwide cannot be understated — these guys are everywhere, and young trendy kids from Tokyo to Seoul to London are following these guys’ trends and referencing their works to eye-opening degrees.
But, as a kid who grew up watching professional wrestling (basically one of the whitest, most trailer-park, “AMURRRRRICAHHHHH EFFFF YEAH!!!” hobbies around), I must say this: Jay stole the rocafella hand gesture. Long before Jay and Bey have influenced a bunch of white kids and skinny Asian girls to “throw the roc” or “go HAM”, there was Diamond Dallas Page.
Yes. The man known as DDP was a star in WCW (World Championship Wrestling) from the late 90s on to the early 2000s, and his trademark hand gesture was basically the roc hand gesture, only it was known as the Diamond Cutter sign (the Diamond Cutter was DDP’s finishing move, which was like a Stone Cold Stunner but less cool because he just pulls it out of nowhere and not always kick someone in the stomach first)
See, DDP sued Jay-Z in 2005 for using the Diamond Cutter sign and won. Jay ended up paying DDP an undisclosed sum. That Jay (and Bey and Ye and LBJ) can still continue to throw the roc probably means that sum was hugeeee.
So even Jay, ever the hustler, lost one to a professional wrestler with a mullet whose entrance music was a straight rip off of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, which itself changed the course of music history and inspired a generation of rock music fans.
(Really, Courtney Love and Dave Grohl should consider suing DDP to get some of that Jay money.)