With the improvisational way the game is played, basketball is often compared to jazz. But while the parallels are definitely there, basketball is essentially synonymous with hip-hop. This has led to players often dabbling in rap, as guys like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson and even Jason Kidd have made the transition from the court to behind a microphone. The majority of the songs created by players are just god awful, but others are surprisingly quite solid.
Shaquille O’Neal’s debut album “Shaq Diesel” went platinum and the Hall of Fame big man released a total of six albums of original material. Metta World Peace has his own record label, released an album, and continually drops new tracks. And then there’s Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard, who released an album at the start of last season and has been complimented for his lyrical skills by musical heavyweights like Lil’ Wayne, DJ Khaled and Kendrick Lamar.
Rapping under the moniker Dame D.O.L.L.A., Lillard has been showcasing his lyrical flow and rhymes for most of his life, but once he entered the NBA, he began to take rapping more seriously.
Taking open submissions, Lillard launched #4BarFriday on social media in 2013 and started a movement for aspiring rappers. He then upped the ante even more by rapping over the instrumental for Jay Z’s “Dead Presidents” on SiriusXM’s Sway in the Morning show in 2015. The video of Lillard’s appearance instantly became viral and thanks to Sway, he was christened as the best rapper in the NBA.
A showman on and off the court, Lillard held his first ever live concert in the summer of 2016 in Portland and sold out the historic Crystal Ballroom downtown. Being a star for the Blazers undoubtedly was the reason Lillard’s first show was so successful, and it was also why his debut album “The Letter O” was high on the iTunes hip-hop charts.
Wanting to build off the success of his album and to showcase the other artists on his Front Page Music record label, Lillard held another show on Sunday. This time it was across the Columbia River from Portland in Vancouver, Washington.
Basically a suburb of Portland, Vancouver is a strange place for Lillard to host a show. But the location was chosen because Lillard and his brother have a relationship with the owner of the show’s venue 6 West Lounge. Naturally that relationship is NBA-based, as the club is owned by former NBA player Kermit Washington’s son, Trey.