Martell Webster was born with two talents: rapping and hooping. While the NBA star (formerly on the Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers) is currently recovering from a hip injury and expected to return to the league in the fall, the Seattle native has kept busy with his own label EYRST (pronounced Air-st).
Webster lets his rhymes fly on the mic for the empowering anthem “Give It Up.” He notes that it’s lighter material in comparison to his 2015 offering A.R.T.T. (Anybody Relates To This). “I was dealing with injury and the season not really going the way that I envisioned it,” he admits. “That was a little bit of a downer but instead of me just sulking and being depressed, I used that state of mind to really emerge lyrically.”
He also calls out a specific line from the Thig Nat-assisted track. “The way I end both of my verses, which is ‘These agents ain’t got shit for Mr. Anderson/ They came across another problem so I’m the answer again,’ meaning no matter how much you hate me, I am where you want to be,” Webster explains, referencing Neo’s role in the 1999 film The Matrix.
A fan of spontaneity, Webster finds inspiration in combining musical forces in the name of art. “We believe in ‘collabition,'” he says of the self-made term to describe Portland’s sound, “in the sense of creating and making great art but in the midst of all that, it’s competitive and brings the best out of both sides.”
Reared on rock, rap and R&B, Webster has been a music junkie since he was seven. He recorded his first raps alongside his close cousin Rodney on the Fisher Price cassette player/recorder with blue, red, green and white keys. “We would dub over Nat King Cole cassette tapes and Rodney would use a butter knife and his fists for percussion,” he recalls with a laugh. “We used to freestyle and use simple raps like, ‘It’s about that time I say a rhyme, guys better watch out or else I’ll cover you a slime.'”
These days, he not only rocks out in the studio with his EYRST collective but also “vibes out” in his home studio with fellow baller/rapper Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazer point guard whose latest musical offering was 2015’s “Full Stomach.” “He’s got heart and a great work ethic that translates to the court,” he says. “He makes great music too.”
Webster and the EYRST crew (comprised of Blossom; The Last Artful, Dodgr [who made no. 3 on WWeek‘s Best New Bands list and Spotify’s Fresh Finds playlist with “Squadron“]; Myke Bogan; Maze Koroma; ePP) will also be touching down in Texas for SXSW, performing on March 15 at Tellers, March 17 at Plush ATX and March 19 at Clive Bar.
Tune into his new visual for “Give It Up” below.