The Pacific Northwest is known for many things. Coffee. Rain. And a music scene and sports fandom without question to anyone else. The home of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, The Glide and The Glove, and now the individual who can meld both into his identity of greatness – Damian Lillard.
Lillard isn’t the first basketball player to rap, nor is he the first rapper to play basketball, but he is the first to be more than mediocre at both at the same time. There have been many NBA players that tried to form a musical career. Shaquille O’Neal. Ron Artest Metta World Peace. Chris Webber. Even the Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant attempted to stick his foot in the rap game, but that should be forgotten about as quickly as Kobe’s career post Achilles.
The closest comparison to make to Lillard that should be made is to be made to Shaq. O’Neal’s 1993 debut album Shaq Diesel went platinum. Let that sink in. This man released a platinum album. In fact, I’ll give you a minute to process, wipe off your computer from where you spit out whatever drink you had while reading this, even take a walk to think about life.
Ready? Ok, lets continue.
Shaq released a platinum album, being the most success any basket-rapper has had to date, but does it hold up? Not really. Sure, you can grade it on the curve of early 90’s rap, but to say that Shaq has bars is to say that I could post up and score on the Big Diesel himself (spoiler, I can not). His biggest hit, “(I Know I Got) Skillz”- you know he’s serious because the plural “skills” is spelled with a Z on the end – boasts such bars as
“I lean on the Statue of Liberty when I get tired
Than I’ll punch you in the stomach, I don’t give a heck
(hey yo, why you bug a hooker like that?)
Yo, she breathed down my neck!”
Lillard, while he has yet to release an album, has been featured on morning shows rapping, as well as having released singles on Soundcloud as Dame D.O.L.L.A. His raps have more meaning behind them than simple machismo from Shaq. Lillard speaks of growing up in Oakland with a sensibility of modern rappers and as smooth of a flow as his jumper.
Drake said in 2010 on the track “Thank Me Now,” “Music and sports are so synomomous, Cause we wanna be them, And they wanna be us.” But what happens when you’re Lillard and don’t have to aspire to either and get to be both?
Spark Sports Editor