Hip-Hop Junkie
Hands Up
Boxer Errol Spence Jr.’s rap fandom is undisputed.
Words: Robby Seabrook III
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Boxing star Errol Spence Jr. has an appreciation for hip-hop that is evident both inside and outside of the squared circle. The 28-year-old IBF world welterweight champ—who enlisted hometown rapper Yella Beezy to perform before a bout with Carlos Ocampo this past June—was raised on turn-of-the-millennium hitmakers like Master P and Juvenile as he embarked on a life in the sweet science at age 15.

Today, the undefeated southpaw from DeSoto, Texas, is banging on rival boxers (24 wins, 21 knockouts, zero losses) with modern trap stars like Future (Beast Mode 2) and YoungBoy Never Broke Again (When Death Calls My Name) serving as his soundtrack. Spence spoke with XXL about his essential training music, the Dallas rap scene and hip-hop’s G.O.A.T.

XXL: How were you introduced to hip-hop?

Errol Spence Jr.: My dad and uncles listened to a lot of rap. My dad is a big fan of LL Cool J. Driving in the car with him, we’d listen to Jay-Z and Nas. My sister listened to a lot of No Limit, so I listened to Master P. And Cash Money—Lil Wayne and Juvenile. They had jewelry and nice cars. I was drawn to them.

Do you have hip-hop G.O.A.T. debates within your family?

Me and my dad argue about this all the time. He says KRS-One, but I wasn’t around to listen to KRS so I say Jay-Z. Dude made hits and [has] longevity, too. He has substance in his music, stuff you can learn from. The 4:44 album had a lot of substance. It’s not no nonsense.

Do you listen to rap music when you train?

If I don’t have headphones, I can’t run. Nowadays, I listen to Drake, Future and Boosie [BadAzz].

If you could pick any rapper—dead or alive— to walk out to a fight with, who would it be?

From what I’ve seen from videos, Tupac [Shakur] had that raw energy. I like his music, too. Just something about him. He seemed like he was a good-spirited dude to have in your locker room.

Why did you choose Yella Beezy to walk you to the ring for your bout with Carlos Ocampo?

Mainly because he had a hot song that I really liked. We great friends and he’s from Dallas. Why not bring somebody in from my city?

What do you think about the Dallas rap scene?

It’s actually getting real good. Of course, we have Yella Beezy having big hits with Lil Baby and other people. Trapboy Freddy is emerging and coming into his own. Mo3, too. The Dallas rap scene is growing and hopefully we get to a level like Houston—everybody supporting each other, building each other up to be great.

Check out more from XXL’s Fall 2018 issue including Meek Mill's letter to his younger self, Show & Prove interviews with Gunna and City Girls, Lil Durk opening up about his Signed to the Streets 3 album and more.

See 60 Hip-Hop Albums Turning 20 in 2018

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