“Damn, I swear sports and music are so synonymous
’cause we wanna be them and they wanna be us.”
Truer words have never been spoken. As the great philosopher Aubrey Graham stated, there has always been a special bond between rappers and basketball players.
So the fact that Damian Lillard is balancing a successful basketball career and — as of today — able to drop his second major album, Confirmed shouldn’t surprise us.
Back in May, Dame explained the album’s title on his Instagram as he wrote, “I’ve never had issues with stardom. I’m also not new to music. I’ve always created music while playing at every level of basketball.
“But now this is no longer an experiment. This is my second album. I’m putting out respectable music yearly. I’ve invested in that. I’m settled in. I don’t feel the need to answer questions or address concerns. This is who I am and what I do.”
My new album CONFIRMED drops this Friday on all major digital music platforms, including @spotify. It features @liltunechi, @hairweavekiller, @nickgrantmusic, @allstarbozzle, @bjthechicagokid, @versesimmonds, @em_i_see, @brookfieldduece and @dannyfromsobrante. — Why did I name the album CONFIRMED? One of the definitions of confirmed is “fixed in habit and unlikely to change.” I named the album that because there’s always been something said about me spending time in the studio, even though I’ve always shown up and produced for my team every night. I’ve never had issues with stardom. I’m also not new to music. I’ve always created music while playing at every level of basketball. But now this is no longer an experiment. This is my second album. I’m putting out respectable music yearly. I’ve invested in that. I’m settled in. I don’t feel the need to answer questions or address concerns. This is who I am and what I do. #CONFIRMED — Inspiration behind the album cover? I wanted the cover to pay homage to some of my favorite artists. Crown: Biggie Prayer hands: PAC Gold rope and Rolex: @nas Highlighting my chest tattoo: for the art culture and community in Oakland. Shoutout to Olugbenro Ogunsemore (@olugbenro) for the 📸 work and @kampashai for the design work and 📸edit. #DameDOLLA #FrontPageMusic @frontpagehits Distribution partner: @human.re.sources
But as today got here and his album became available for streaming, I found myself hesitant to give Lillard a fair shot.
Despite his efforts to promote, invest, and set time to put this album together I still asked myself how good is Dame, really?
In the past, Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Metta World Peace, and Lou Williams all pursued rap careers and we all saw how those faired. Why give Dame Dolla a chance?
The number of athletes who’ve tried and fail at music are so high, it’s created this stigma that new rapper athletes have to overcome.
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) October 6, 2017
And it’s not like it hasn’t balanced out. Master P and his son are examples of the playing field being even. The Game can hoop a little, but surely not at an elite level.
So naturally, there’s this myth that you cannot do both, that your skillset is bound to either art or sports.
But Dame proves that wrong.
If you remember it was the internet — the people, essentially — that first raised their collective eyebrows at Dame’s rapping capabilities back when he spit that insane freestyle on Sway in 2015.
You’ve also never seen an athlete get this much support in his musical endeavors. It’s usually clowned and not taken seriously.
.@Dame_Lillard is better than a bunch of these rappers and he does this in his free time after averaging 27 PPG, 6 APG and 5 RPG last year.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) October 6, 2017
Not to mention the rap game sees something in Dame’s art. His last album, 2016’s The Letter O, has Jamie Foxx, Lil Wayne, and Marsha Ambrose on it — big names for an NBA player’s debut rap project.
Even from competitors like Iman Shumpert — who isn’t chump change on the mic either — gave him props.
While still picking himself for pro baller with the best bars, on Complex’s Everyday Struggle Shump admitted that Dame has a different lane, saying he’s a Meek Mill, Nipsey Hussle, inspirational bars type rapper.
Although dismissing rapper athletes is tempting, I think we owe it to Dame to give his project a spin.
He’s humble on and off the court, plays his heart out, and has a hell of a come up story.
Rap gives us an in-depth look at an artist’s life and being that Dame is a superstar basketball player, we have a unique opportunity to view a player in a way we haven’t before.