Before we dive into the music, the rumor mill has been buzzing about Kemba Walker being traded and Detroit serving as a possible destination. Would you be interested in teaming up with your fellow UConn brother?
Well, you know for me, I don't really get into that stuff. That's more front office deals and what they take care of. My job is to just focus on basketball and you know, I don't really get a chance to really pick and choose who I play with. So I'm just excited to play with the guys who I have now and I'm very content with the players that I have too.
You have a strong appreciation and love for the hip-hop culture. If you could handpick your starting five in terms of favorite rappers of all time, who would you choose and why?
JAY, Biggie, definitely Tupac, Nas and Kanye.
How impressed were you with JAY's 4:44 album that came out last June?
It was definitely one of his better projects that he put out. I definitely enjoyed listening to it.
Take me back to the first album you ever purchased with your own money.
First album? Man, I think it may have been a G-Unit album.
Was it Beg for Mercy?
Actually, no. It was the album with "21 Questions" on it.
Get Rich or Die Tryin'.
Yeah. That was the first album I ever bought. Man, back in that time, that was when you can listen to everybody's song back-to-back without skipping any song. So 50 [Cent] had a lot of songs on there that was just on repeat all the time.
What was the last album you were able to play front-to-back without any skips?
Probaby JAY-Z's album and one of Big Sean's albums...Finally Famous.
What made you appreciate Finally Famous so much?
I just think with him being a Detroit native and for me not really knowing much about Big Sean when I got here, I was listening to his music and he has really dope stuff. So I definitely enjoy listening to his music.
Are there any artists out of Detroit that you have a strong appreciation for?
Definitely Nate Nixen. He's one of them that I really enjoy listening to. He has a lot of great stuff. I'd go with Rico Will, Peezy, my uncle Trick Trick. Snap Dogg is one of my favorite rappers out here, too.
We gotta ask about you and your bars. I noticed you have some rhymes especially on your "Made You Look" and "No Scrubs" freestyles.
I got a lot of stuff coming too. So I'll be sure to get it to you. [Laughs]
You've slowly been releasing stuff on your SoundCloud.
Yeah. Slowly but surely I've been putting stuff on my SoundCloud page. I don't wanna put too much stuff out yet. Obviously, I still play basketball. So I don't want people to get it twisted and think that I'm more focused on music than I am on basketball.
If you can remember, can you tell me the first verse you've ever written or the first track you've ever recorded?
Yeah, I do, actually. It was to this song called "Throw It Back." I remember that I actually wasn't supposed to be on there. One of my boys was at the studio and they asked me to freestyle on the beat and that's what I came up with. It was terrible. [Laughs]
You remember some of the lyrics on there?
I would have to go back and listen. [Laughs]
I thought it was pretty cool how diverse your beat selection was in terms of your freestyles. You even rapped over J Balvin's "Mi Gente." What made you decide to jump over those kinds of beats and have a different approach on some of these freestyles?
I think with me, it's just about being able to touch on different genres of music. Hopefully, you know, one day J Balvin can hear it. There's a lot of guys in the league that make music and it's hardcore gangsta rap. None of us really live that life and you can't talk about being a thug. [Laughs] So, for me, I talk about real-life stuff. I talk about stuff I go through all the time and fun stuff that I do with my life.
Let me find out if Skip Bayless says something reckless about you that you're going to have a diss record on deck.
You also have a strong love and passion for DJing. What would be your go-to record to get any party started?
My go-to record? I usually start with [Soul for Real]'s "Candy Rain." That usually gets the people going. So I always start with that record first.
If you can do a ranking of the top NBA rappers -- you can even throw yourself on the list -- right now in the league, what would your top five be?
Probably [Iman] Shump No. 1, Dame Lillard at the 2, me at the three, Lou Will at the four, and I'm trying to think who else raps. You can probably throw Victor [Oladipo] or [Lonzo] Zo Ball. I mean, I'm not really rocking with his music, but he's the only other NBA player that raps.
Zo did a "Free Smoke" freestyle.
I did it too though, and Universal actually took it down [a couple] days ago.
Because of the beat?
I don't understand why they didn't take his down.
Would you be willing to collaborate with any of the guys?
Yeah, I definitely talked to Iman. We have a couple of ideas that we're going to do. I've been trying to reach out to Dame too, but I'm going to wait for the summertime for that.
You saw Iman with his freestyle on Flex?
Yeah. He went nuts.
Would you be able to handle something like that?
Hell no. [Laughs] I just started rapping. He's been rapping since he was a little kid. I just started playing around with it and found a love for it.
How long ago did you start writing your raps?
I started like August, last summer. Obviously, with me being a DJ, I have a love for music. One day I was like, "OK. I'm tired of playing everybody else's music. I rather play my music." So, that's kind of how the whole me doing music thing started.
Are you smooth with beatmaking, as well?
I try, but I don't really have the ear for that. So I just leave it to the professionals.
With you already having the whole DJ and rap thing taken care of, can we see you possibly get into directing music videos, as well?
Oh definitely. I have three music videos shot already. I just won't put them out until the summertime.
You're gunning for the triple-double with Djing, rapping and directing.
Oh yeah, man. I'm trying to go for it all. [Laughs]
If you were able to do a full-fledged album, which three artists would you love to collaborate with and why?
Probably Drake, Beyoncé and Bruno [Mars]. They're so internationally known. Their music is worldwide. I don't just want to be a U.S. guy known in the U.S. I want to be known around the globe.
I asked Damian Lillard this question and I'm going to ask you the same one: Which is more important to you if you become a full-time rapper -- a Grammy or an NBA title?
Definitely NBA title. Basketball will always be my first love. Getting an NBA title is something that I'm looking forward to getting.