Rihanna, Panthers, NASCAR and DaBaby: The Queen City’s rise in pop culture

CHARLOTTE — The more the Queen City is sung about or featured in a film, the closer Charlotte gets to becoming a household name for more than banking.

The Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, and Charlotte Motor Speedway consistently make headlines. In the entertainment world, Charlotte is a hotspot for blockbuster films and inspired dozens of tracks across multiple genres.

Swipe through the gallery below to browse the films, shows, songs, books and more that reference Charlotte.

Celebrities sport blue and black Panthers or teal and purple Hornets swag often, either because of their fan status or just because the QC produces fashionable jerseys.

Rihanna - In May, Rihanna was seen wearing a Panthers jersey at a party in Tokyo.


“Saturday Night Live” (2021) - An SNL sketch poked light fun at Charlotte in 2021 by imitating LaVar Ball, father of LaMelo Ball. He called Charlotte the “regional bacon capital of the world,” a play on “banking,” and the “Gateway to Gastonia.”

Kenan Thompson, portraying Ball, called the Charlotte Hornets “the most storied franchise in all of basketball,” and said that after LaMelo wins, he’s going to unite North and South Carolina into a “super Carolina called Carolossus, monster of the South.”

“The Ultimatum” (2023) - This year’s season of The Ultimatum, a Netflix dating show, was filmed in Charlotte. The contestants went on dates around Charlotte at spots like Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Canopy and Para.


Under the Sun”, Dreamville, J. Cole, Lute, and DaBaby (2019) - This record marked the first time these three iconic North Carolina-based artists collaborated. Lute and DaBaby, both from Charlotte, had verses about the Queen City, even mentioning historic Beatties Ford Road by name.

DaBaby specifically mentions Charlotte in many of his songs. His success has helped establish the city as a breeding ground for talent in the rap and hip-hop genre.

Promised Land”, Grateful Dead (1976) - A song about traveling throughout the United States, Promised Land references Charlotte and Rock Hill in the opening verse. The song was originally written by Chuck Berry in 1964.


“Shallow Hal” (2001) - Starring Jack Black and Gwenyth Paltrow, Shallow Hal was filmed throughout Charlotte and Concord. Freedom Park, Bank of America Headquarters, Capital Grille, and Pike’s Soda Shop were all featured in the 2001 romantic comedy.

“The Hunger Games” (2012) - The first movie of the series was filmed in Charlotte, Shelby and Concord. The pre-game interviews with the tribute’s was filmed at the historic Knight Theater, and their entrance was filmed at the Charlotte Convention Center.

“The Ultimate Gift” (2009) - Former Charlotte Mayor and N.C. Governor Pat McCrory made an appearance in this Charlotte-based film.

(WATCH: Movie being filmed in Waxhaw calls for extras)

Cassia Sari, wsoctv.com

Cassia is a content center producer for Channel 9.