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Posted: Friday September 10, 2010 1:02PM ; Updated: Friday September 10, 2010 1:02PM

Rap star Santana enjoys sports from the comfort of his studio

Story Highlights

Santana's studio has a souped-up gaming room with flat screens and a mini-bar

Santana often hosts viewing parties with friends and other hip-hop celebrities

A huge boxing fan, Santana was more interested in music channels as a kid

By Amanda Younger, SI.com

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Juelz Santana
Rap star Juelz Santana (left) often hosts sports viewing parties for friends and fellow celebs such as Lloyd Banks (right).
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Some people like to watch in the bedroom. Others prefer to view the action in person.

But rapper-producer Juelz Santana prefers the comfort of his Bergenfield, N.J., recording studio when he's watching his favorite athletes battle in the paint or tussle in the ring.

His venue of choice: a souped-up game room with two 40-plus-inch flat screens, surrounded by reminders of his trademark Skull Gang, custom leather couches and an impressive mini-bar. And of course we can't forget the requisite bevy of hip-hop heavyweights who have stopped by to take in a fight or watch some NBA playoff action. Lil Wayne, Lloyd Banks and others have all come, but Santana is still waiting on the Dogfather himself to make his inaugural fight night visit.

"He's just one person that gives off good energy every time I see Snoop [Dogg], I got a lot of respect for him," Santana said.

While the New York native has been to his share of Knicks games to see friend Wilson Chandler, the studio is his locale of choice for game-watching, especially boxing.

"I prefer watching them [at the studio] because I like the angles," Santana said. "There's nothing like the angles, the slow motion. There is so much more that has you intrigued when you're watching the fight on TV."

Though the ambience of an NBA playoff game might be more appreciated in person, Santana's love of boxing makes him less interested in how hyped the crowd is and more focused on observing every move, every swing and every blow.

For Santana there is much more to boxing than just the action in the ring. Part of the draw is in the excitement of the commentators, the blow-by-blow analysis, the reactions that you can't fully enjoy when you're being jostled by fans moving left and right for a better view of the action.

In his studio, Santana is privy to a panoramic view of what's happening in the ring. He doesn't have to cock his head to one side or the other, stand up to get a better view or struggle to listen to the announcers over thousands of voices. He is in control of how he watches each and every move, replaying the action over and over.

"Basketball games are little more exciting to be at when it's like a championship game or something just because of the crowd and the stuff that's going on," he said. "With fights, I just like to sit down and really watch because even if you're in the front row, you're looking from this angle. When you watch on TV, it's like pow, pow, pow. HD and I got to two TVs. I see everything."

Another vote for home viewing

Diplomats rapper Jim Jones has had a lifelong love of sports, one that he indulges in whenever he gets the chance in his New York City studio. Much like Santana, Jones also prefers kicking back in the comfort of his studio rather than catching the action live.

"It's always good to be in a floor seat or on the 50-yard line, don't mistake me for that," he said. "But being comfortable and being able to do what you want to do ... like I could be in my drawers with my socks off if that's what I want to do."

But it's not always so laid-back in the studio, as some games can attract upwards of 40 guests, ranging from NBA players to fellow hip-hop performers to just friends from Jones' native Harlem.

"Game day, you never know who'll pop over here," he said. "You can have a range of NBA players that just made the playoffs to just some of my homies from the hood that just love basketball, that love a good game."

-- A.Y.

However, don't expect any Pac-Man fanaticism coming from Santana -- he's a diehard Floyd Mayweather Jr. fan. If you're brave enough to suggest that Manny Pacquiao might have a shot at defeating the undefeated Mayweather in their potential bout, good luck convincing Juelz.

"Floyd is just too good, too damn good," he said. "The only way Pacquiao could win is through a lucky blow, a lucky wild punch. Pacquiao isn't skilled enough.

"[Mayweather] is just too elite. I've never seen nobody as talented as him. He can keep the same game plan for all 12 rounds, never gets frustrated; if he loses the first three rounds, he understands that it's nine more rounds that he can beat you in."

Santana didn't always have such a love of sports. Growing up, he and his brother battled for control of the remote, arguing over whether they would flip on Yo! MTV Raps or satisfy his brother's penchant for sports on ESPN. Ultimately the two would compromise and divvied their television watching, but his brother's love of sports definitely rubbed off on the young Santana, who now hosts fight night parties and other events.

When he's not checking out the fights with 100 of his closest friends and fellow artists, he's pulling hard for his hometown New York teams. There's no fair-weather sports fanaticism for Santana, but he's also willing to admit some of New York's shortcomings -- yes, Mike D'Antoni, he's talking to you.

"The Yankees have been the only one that's been keeping us just in, when it comes to just winning championships," he said. "Like when was the last time the Yankees won? Last year! When was the last time the Knicks won? I don't think I was born yet. But we're not going to talk about that."

But the Knicks aren't the only basketball team to catch Santana's eye. He was also a Cleveland Cavaliers fan until one very special free agent made one really big Decision. While Santana harbors a few hard feelings that LeBron James bypassed the Empire State, he gives him some credit.

"I was a LeBron fan, but there was nobody [else] on Cleveland that really had my attention," he said. I'm Knicks to the core, but as far as who I like, they're looking strong over there in Miami."

 
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