That’s not to say that rappers can’t enjoy NASCAR and that all racers prefer rock or country music to hip-hop. Yet, the idea of not one, but two popular drivers participating in a rap video might sound strange to the most devoted fans on both sides of the equation.
Well, perhaps we should consider Jay-Z a trendsetter, then.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick were in a Jay-Z video
After several years of a partial retirement, Jay-Z returned to the music scene in October 2006 with “Show Me What You Got,” the lead single from Kingdom Come, his new comeback album.
Although the song’s music video mostly paid homage to James Bond movies, two professional athletes showed up and made cameo appearances. Of all people, the guests were Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick, the latter of whom was still several years away from making her NASCAR Cup Series debut.
The video included Earnhardt and Patrick — then still racing in the IndyCup — driving a Ferrari F430 Spider and a Pagani Zonda Roadster, respectively, around Monaco.
In a 2014 interview with USA Today, Patrick had nothing but fond memories about the experience. Patrick said she and Earnhardt — still amid his Cup Series career — bonded over their presence in the video.
“We both agree that was probably the coolest thing we’ve ever done,” Patrick said.
Earnhardt and Patrick also had dinner with Jay-Z and Beyonce
Jay-Z is a devoted sports fan — at the time he filmed “Show Me What You Got,” he still owned a minority ownership stake in the then-New Jersey Nets — who has long bonded with players and coaches alike.
The rapper and his then-partner, Beyonce Knowles, wanted to treat Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick as their guests. When she spoke with USA Today, Patrick recalled having lunch and dinner with the two musicians — or, as they call themselves, “Jay” and “B.”
“Jay was really nice, really easy to talk to. Beyonce was more quiet. She was nice, she was just more quiet.”
Earnhardt and Patrick’s cameo may have been good luck for Jay-Z, as “Show Me What You Got” topped out at eighth on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
They’re not the first athletes to appear in music videos
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick are far from the first athletes to appear in music videos.
LeBron James appeared in the 2009 video for Jay-Z’s “D.O.A.” That same year, James made a cameo appearance at the beginning of Drake’s “Forever,” a song made for a documentary about the then-Cavaliers forward.
Many popular athletes, ranging from Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice to Roger Clemens and Jose Canseco, showed up in the video for MC Hammer’s “2 Legit 2 Quit.” Even the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders wanted some airtime in an MC Hammer production.
Earnhardt and Tony Stewart briefly popped up in “The Road I’m On” by 3 Doors Down. Earnhardt, along with Grant Hill and Wayne Gretzky, even filmed brief cameos in “Rockstar” by Nickelback.