When did you actually go to the studio?
It was a while after Ross and I first talked about it. I had been sending Ross some sounds, which he’d send back with notes. We didn’t get into the booth until at least January 2019. It was after a game one night, and Ross was at the game. We won, and I said, “Yo, big homie, let’s do it tonight.” I was feeling good and the vibe was good. He was like, “Bet, I’ll be there.”
So the vibe is good, you’re coming off a win, what happens next? How many takes in the studio?
A lot of takes. But first of all, when you’re in the car and you’re rapping to a beat, it’s different than when you’re in the studio and you know what you’re recording might be heard around the world. Ross and his engineering team have been at this for a long time, and they know how a song needs to feel. It took a while to get it all right. But it was cool to be in there—a long night of sitting there, eating chicken wings, talking a lot of trash back-and-forth, talking about music. So it was mostly an easy process, but a little nerve-wracking, because I’m not trying to come off like I’m trying to be a rapper. I’m not trying to be a rapper. For me, it was crossing off a bucket list item—like, how many people can say they did a song with Rick Ross? And that aside, we wanted it on the documentary. Sony heard he wanted to put it in the documentary, and they were like, “Well, let’s release it then.”
Who’s the best basketball player-turned-rapper of all time?
I have no idea of all-time. You look at Damian Lillard right now, and he seems poised to be that, but he has some more to do. Shaq went platinum, so it depends on whether you’re talking about bars, lyrics, or success? Ultimately, hoopers are hoopers, and to have the ability to rap or sing, that’s just another passion that guys have the platform to showcase.
Okay that’s fair, but if we change the parameters a little bit and incorporate all of that criteria, it sounds like your Mount Rushmore has Dame and Shaq. Anybody else?
I know my good friend Kobe had a run when he was rapping a little bit, and his rap game was so intelligent. He was hitting them with words that sounded like Stephen A. Smith would rap [laughs]. That was so dope. I think I really just enjoy hearing these guys try their own style and flow.
Did you have a favorite pre-game song?
Over the course of time that obviously changes, but the most memorable one to me that I went back to over and over was Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” What that stood for—you only get one shot, don’t miss your chance—that started in college, where our college coach played that to get our mind right. I fell in love with the meaning behind the song, and it carried on throughout my life.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.