It seems like a stretch. That’s because it’s darn near impossible to be good — much less an All-Star — in both crafts. Counting the credible basketball stars who have wielded a mic and succeeded is a one-handed proposition: Shaquille O’Neal, Damian Lillard … maybe Chris Webber? Any others?
In the midst of that reserved level of cynicism, Drummond — under his pseudonym “Drummxnd” — offers his “FYI” release, with its eight party-style tracks, including several collaborations. The EP hit the online music world Friday — and it’s not bad.
And that’s not a diss.
For many athletes, the foray into music deserves the demo-tape-in-the-toilet treatment from “Hustle & Flow.”
“FYI” isn’t that. It’s an honest effort that stays away from the simple basketball references that many others have tried. The subject matter is in line with a lot of contemporary club music with plenty of Auto-Tune sprinkled throughout.
Ironically, that lends to Drummond’s authenticity: He’s not trying to be a legendary lyricist like Rakim, a prophet like 2Pac or a street talker like Jay-Z. He’s just himself — and that’s perfectly fine.
Drummond previewed “FYI” at an album-release party last week at Annex Nightclub in Detroit, before an intimate gathering of about 100 friends, family and fans. As his 6-foot-11 frame towered above the crowd on a makeshift stage, he looked the part of a rapper, donning all black with the compulsory diamond-studded necklaces and watch. Two bodyguards flanked the stage as he performed several tracks, along with collaborators Tailz and Drew Parks.
He didn’t enlist the help of Eminem, Big Sean or Royce da 5’9 or some other famous Detroit emcees, trying to garner legitimacy in the rap world through them. It’s clear this isn’t Drummond’s real job — but he still works hard on his craft. Everyone knows he’s an NBA player, but he sheds that veneer for the 30 minutes or so on “FYI.”
Making music isn’t his job; rather, it’s a side hobby that he clearly enjoys — and puts serious effort into. Drummond said he worked on his tracks after practices, on off days, sometimes, during early-morning studio sessions, as he mentions in “Nu Vibe.”
“Long nights, had to stay in
Yeah, now my whole squad’s going all out.
Funny how these girls all trying to call now.
Funny how I ball out ‘cause I balled out.”
It’s not rap calculus, but it’s not meant to be. It’s Drummond, with his NBA fame and wealth, rapping about what he knows about. It’s a sincere attempt to express himself in music, without the make-believe swag attached.
There are Drummonds references to his millions of dollars, but at least in his case, he does the big bank to back it up — and they’re not just empty boasts.
That’s where “FYI” fits: It’s not that empty feeling of someone trying to sell rap albums to make money. Drummond clearly doesn’t need the money and funds his own musical venture. The cynics will bemoan that Drummond could be working on his free throws or something else basketball-related instead of wasting his time on music.
It’s possible to do both.
Drummond is entitled to have fun in his offseason, and he gets some leeway when he’s celebrating his 25th birthday with an album release.
And like basketball, Drummond is pretty good at his music too.