The worlds of the NBA and hip-hop have crossed over many times before, but this summer proved a particularly prolific off-season for some ballers-turned-rappers. Over the past few months, Iman Shumpert, Damian Lillard and even Mason Plumlee dropped some hot singles for their fans. And were they any good? Surprisingly enough, yes. Unlike the previous basketball player entries we’ve grown accustomed to, these five new tracks are unexpectedly listenable for amateur attempts. Give them a shot below.
‘290 West’ by Iman Shumpert
Fresh off renewing his $40-million, four-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Shump is the latest NBA player to drop a track. Entitled “290 West,” in it he vents about the struggles of millionaire-hood, from relatives being too shy to ask for much-needed cash to opportunists begging him for dough. A well-mastered track replete with soulful saxophone samples lends itself well to the deep material.
‘Soldier in the Game’ by Damian Lillard AKA Dame DOLLA
At the beginning of the off-season, Damian Lillard revealed his plans to release an entire rap album under the pseudonym Dame DOLLA. He started things off with a fresh track called “Soldier in the Game,” his first full song after recording a freestyle track on the Sway in the Morning radio show on Sway 45. “Soldier” pays tribute to the Portland Trailblazers, a young team that he’s determined to turn around.
‘Tell Me Why’ by Damian Lillard AKA Dame DOLLA
In his third full track, Lillard shows off his versatility with this song featuring an R&B-style sample borrowed from Jadakiss’ 2004 hit “Why.” Dame DOLLA loops in his long-time friend P.J. Taylor AKA V.I.P. for the question-heavy collab, which seeks answers to lines of inquiry ranging from “Why can’t we accept ourselves?” to “What wasn’t Carolina having me scouted?” Deep questions, indeed.
‘Born Ready Freestyle’ by Lance Stephenson
Lance Stephenson is somewhat of a rap hobbyist, having rapped over Bobby Shmurda tracks and professing a love for the art form. He recorded this single after being traded to the L.A. Clippers for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes to let the world know that he’s—wait for it—born ready for the challenges that lie ahead. In it, he tackles topics like working out, heading to the West Coast and his music career.
‘4500’ by Mason Plumlee
Basketball and hip-hop, together as one
Don’t diss the Based God
Hint: there’s a lot of Drake