“Share my life experiences cause it just got sweet, and I can’t recall a time when my guts got week”
In an era where artists exchange email addresses and studio files to produce “collaborations,” it’s refreshing to see Dame Lillard and Raphael Saadiq working together in person to create music together. The two came together for adidas Originals and Yours Truly’s Songs from Scratch series and their new song “Hero” is a product of the sessions.
The collaboration between the two is organic in the sense that it’s rooted in relationships formed decades ago. Both the Portland Trailblazers superstar and the soul genius are Bay Area natives with Saadiq having grown up in the same neighborhood with Lillard’s parents. Proximity didn’t guarantee Lillard a moment like this where he was able to work with a musician the caliber of the former frontman for Tony! Toni! Tone! No, Dame D.O.L.L.A., Lillard’s MC name, had to grow up and live a life of lessons that taught him how to persevere and gave him writing material, the kind of which makes up “Hero.”
Under Saadiq’s guidance, Dame crafted a cut composed of familiar themes for those who’ve checked his material before. Surviving Oakland was more critical than any other aspirations but he didn’t allow the life to swallow him or deter him from dreaming. Over a beat Saadiq describes as a “Biz Markie, saloon-type,” Dame tells of his hardships: “Product of the slums, I’m polished, ain’t no removin’ that/ straight up outta Oakland where all the knowledge and shooters at” and “I done been robbed at gunpoint, failed a couple classes / Grew apart from friendships I thought were everlasting.” The singer’s swaying chorus helps lift the track up, supplanting the hoops hero’s message of encouragement. As Saadiq says, “You just have to show up. That’s the message. Whatever you’re doing. If you show up, it’s all possible.”
Listen to the track below and check out the making of the music behind the scenes above.