It’s a cliche, but it’s true: Rappers want to be hoopers and hoopers want to be rappers. Just look at Drake, J. Cole, Lil Durk, and Quavo — all guys known for melodic gifts who put a lot of free time into showing off on the hardwood. Drake even hosts his own pro-am league at his mansion in Toronto. Meanwhile, we all know about Shaq, Kobe, and Dame DOLLA, professional basketball players who trade Wilson for Shure in their off-hours.
It might be time to add the Los Angeles Clippers’ Bones Hyland to the latter list. The third-year guard is known for his swagger on court, but less known is his affinity for hooks and harmonies. He’s got a couple of excellent clips on YouTube and just dropped a new single, “Skarred,” in September. He’s also self-released three full-length projects since 2020 under the name Bizzy.
Where fellow NBA rap aficionados like Dame reflect the workmanlike focus on punchlines and wordplay of a day-job rapper like J. Cole, Bizzy tends to wear more melodic influences, like those of his favorite rapper Rod Wave, on his sleeve. This approach serves him well, though; in the same way the 6’2 player uses his lanky frame to shift defensive players and slither his way to the rim, something about his vibe suits his singsong delivery.
Uproxx stopped by the Clippers’ practice facility in Playa Vista to chat with Bones about his musical ambitions, what basketball and rap have in common, and his rap-baller starting five.
Tell me how you got started making music.
I experienced a house fire, and it had set me back by eight months. So I was on house rest, chilling, trying to recover from my knee surgery. And I always had a voice to melodize hooks to songs. I would just sing hooks over and over again and I’m like, “Damn, let me try this music thing out.” So a couple of my other friends made music, and I’m just like, “Yeah, I’m just going to do the hooks and y’all got the verses,” and that’s how we would put the songs together.
From there, we were like, “We could do something with this.” We started doing shows around the city, getting paid, and then I dropped a single. Once I dropped my single, that’s when it just blew up like crazy. I’m like, “Yeah, this is something I can do besides basketball.”
You know what they say, that’s what helps you with basketball. If you have something else.
So who are your favorite rappers?
So I would say Rod Wave, NBA YoungBoy, I’d say Lil Baby too, Hurricane Wisdom. But Hurricane Wisdom and Rod Wave, those two are my favorites though. Just the way they make music, the melodies they put into music, how their soul was into the music, how they harmonize with the beats, that’s amazing music that they’re making. So that’s something that those two guys are, for sure.
Because of the overlap between basketball and rap, have you gotten a chance to really hang around in the music world with some of the big-name musicians that you have been a fan of?
Yeah, recently before the season started, I had hung out with Rod Wave and just got to pick his brain and just talk to him. He’s a great, down-to-earth guy and I found out he was a Virgo. I’m like, damn, we’re just alike. It’s just crazy.
Did he give you any advice that you are using now that is helping you?
For sure. Just be yourself. Stay down, because he’s working, but the big thing he said is, “Don’t let the outside world affect you.”
You have to approach it the right way. And that’s something that I had to do with league basketball too. Everything you have to deal with, it’s the same thing. So it’s really dope how me and him connected on that. I’m like, “Damn, that’s really crazy. You connected with me on the fact that you’re going through this for rapping and I got to go through this for basketball.” It’s crazy.
Obviously, a lot of people when they hear a basketball player wants to rap or a rapper wants to play basketball, they’re like, “How do you balance that?” They don’t understand it’s a job. You clock out at the end of the day. You go home every time. So how do you balance that in terms of that expectation from people?
So people just be thinking basketball is something we do all day. We literally clock in the morning till a certain time in the evening and the rest of the day is ours unless we have a game or something. So we have free time where we can literally do what we want to do, enjoy time with family, go make some music, shop, whatever you want to do.
But I usually make my music during the off-season because I like to really focus on just music and enjoying time with my friends and stuff. I feel like that’s when my best music comes out, during off-season. I feel like if I make music during the season, I’m rushed because maybe I go to the studio at 9:00 and I make a song till 11:30, 12:00, I got to get some rest because I got a game tomorrow or something, so I got to get back to the hotel. But if it’s something like in summertime, I don’t have to leave the studio early. I could be in there how long ever I want.
Going back to rappers who ball and ballers who rap, if you had to pick a starting five of rappers who hoop, would be your starting five?
So I haven’t really heard that many rappers who hoop, but I’d say me. I’d say, this is a player that I just heard that raps, Jaren Jackson Jr., Miles Bridges, and Dame. That’s the only four. And Lonzo, yeah. I like Iman Shumpert too.
Have you hooped with any actual rappers like Drake, Lil Durk, J. Cole, or any of those?
I hooped with Rod Wave.
Is he any good?
Nah. Hell, no.
Listen…. Hanging around with you guys makes me so mad because I’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, I’m trash. I’m never going to be good at this ever. You guys set the bar too high.” There are a lot of aspects, I think… We were talking about the overlap. It’s crazy because, like J. Cole, he took the practice aspect of basketball and applied it to rap for The Off Season. Do you ever feel like that’s something that you could do or are you already doing that and how are you doing it?
No, not really. I just think every year I just make better music. It’s kind of crazy. I just recently dropped the tape. It got taken down, but that was my best piece of work so far. But I feel like every year, I really get better at making music. Maybe it’s the music that I’m listening to other than myself that’s helping me make better music. Obviously, my recent past life, what I’ve been through — that helps me make music too, make heart-touching music — but also just stuff that I’ve accomplished during my life now that I overcame… Because maybe some people can’t relate to the stuff that I’ve talked about in the past, but they can relate to the good life that I talk about.
In basketball, of course, you have concrete goals. You have, “Oh, this is the season we’re going to make at the playoffs. This season we’re going to get to the third round. This season we’re going to win the championship. I want to be able to add this to my game.” What in your wildest dreams are the things you want this music thing to be able to do for you?
Really just take off. I feel like my message and my songs are really touching. I feel like a lot of people, once the world really hear my music they’ll be like, “Damn, like how the f*ck did he make music like this and he played basketball?”
I recently dropped a little snippet on my Instagram page and it blew up crazy, but I see a lot of people that’s coming from just everywhere that I’d never seen on my page before. And they like, “Damn, he makes music too?” And then I’m like, yeah, it’s getting to new fans. People are hearing my music, so I know once it touches way more, they’ll be like, “Damn, nah, this dude cold, cold at making music. He really knows how to make music. He really sounds like a rapper.”
In terms of the differences between basketball and rapping, what is the biggest difference between how you approach it and how it feels? What’s the payoff? What’s the difference in the payoff for you emotionally?
I feel like there’s no difference in making music and basketball. It’s literally all the same thing. How the beat is, is how your footwork is. How the song is, is how sweet your jump shot is.
I don’t know. You got teammates out there, the engineer and the producer. So it all goes hand in hand. It’s literally all the same thing, for real.