Lillard: If we lost, everybody would have been sick
You’d be surprised how many NBA players have seriously tried to grab the mic in an attempt to create ear-popping, hip-hop flows that translates to commercial success.
There are some notable ones who have tested the musical landscape such as Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Tony Parker and Allen Iverson, just to name a few. While each may have been talented in their own right, to say they were a success would be an overstatement.
Shaquille O’Neal stands alone as the only NBA player to actually turn a profit in the hip-hop game with his debut album “Shaq Diesel,” a 12-track compilation that went platinum in 1994. The seven-footer can also toot his horn when it comes to longevity in the field, having produced five albums in total.
That’s the sort of impact Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is looking to make when he eventually and officially, takes the music industry by storm.
“If my profile continues to increase, I think I can go platinum with my music,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “Not to knock anybody else who has done it, but I can actually rap. I have a story to tell. It’s not going to just be about basketball. I have more content than that. With the way I know I can get down, and the producers that I’ll align myself with, there’s no reason not to think I couldn’t go platinum. Shaq proved it’s possible.”
The All-Star point guard says he anticipates releasing a mixtape sometime this year consisting of 10 tracks to spawn up some buzz before he drops his first album. Just as smooth and effortless is his shooting stroke; he says freestyling and putting verses together “comes more naturally” to him.
“It’s something that comes easy to me,” Lillard said. “It’s another talent that I have.”
Last year he came up with the concept 4-Bar Friday and turned it into a reality. It’s a weekly freestyle battle using Instagram videos where individuals are urged to provide 15 seconds of off-the-top-of-the-dome lyrics. The best four participants are featured on its official site.
The reigning Rookie of the Year even jumps on board weekly, showing off his skills. It’s a craft he’s passionate about. He doesn’t view it as a hobby. It’s a way of his life, a life he’ll soon share with the rest of the world.
“I’ve been rapping for a long time and now I’m in a position to where I can help others get through their day with my music,” Lillard said. “[Dropping an album] is something that I’m excited about because I know a lot of people don’t expect much from me because they feel they’ve seen this before. But I’m not like the other players that have done it. They’ll see in time.”
When asked whom he would like to work with on a project, without hesitation, he said J. Cole. That could be a teaser.
But can a high-profile athlete thrive in the music business in this day in time? Lillard is heavily involved in a ton of off-the-court endeavors such as his ambassador role with the Special Olympics, his Respect Campaign, his adidas obligations, 4-Bar Friday involvement and other team-related events.
Will he be able to invest enough time in the studio in order to put out quality work? Will he be taking on too much? He doesn’t think so.
“All the things I devote my time to are things that are important to me,” Lillard responded. “When it’s important to you, it’s not a hassle or a burden. Like I said, my music will be primarily to help others by telling them a little bit about my life. Plus, the fact that I think that I’m good at it is another reason.”
There has always been an interesting conundrum in the rap game. Squeaky clean lyrical content tends to not do so well, generally. During the latter years of his hip-hop career, Will Smith became a mocking target by those considered to be hard-core hip-hop artist.
As the face of the Trail Blazers franchise, how much will Lillard have to hold back in regards to his lyrics? Would he be able to use profanity? If he does choose to use some choice wording, how would it affect his brand and marketability?
“I think there’s a few curse words that I can say,” he said. “Obviously, there is a couple that I will stay away from. But times have changed. I think a player can put more into his lyrics nowadays. Certain curse words are everywhere on television. I won’t use a ton but they’ll be some in there.”
It doesn’t end there for the venturous second year guard out of Weber State. Lillard is interested in starring in movies, too.
“I’m not an actor but I think it’s something that I can grow into if given time,” he acknowledged. “I would like to play a part like how Ray Allen played Jesus Shuttlesworth. That’s something I’m interested in among some other things.”
Smart guy, that Damian Lillard. He understands that as a professional athlete, he has a brief moment in time to capitalize on his celebrity status. Too often athletes have the propensity to remain stagnant during their playing careers, refusing to venture out and trying new things.
Shaquille O’Neal set the blueprint on how to excel in music and on the court. And Lillard, in his own way, is following suit.
“I just want to be myself through my music and help people in the process,” Lillard said. “That’s what it’s really all about. It’s not about me. My music will prove that.”