NBA Star Damian Lillard: A Q&A About Dame D.O.L.L.A's New Rap Album, Working With Adidas, and More
The 2017-18 NBA season tipped off this week and Flaunt caught up with Portland Trailblazer superstar guard Damian Lillard. When he's not putting up numbers on the scoreboard, he's rapping in a studio and is one of the few athletes who actually gets respect for his Hip-Hop bars from his peers and full-time rhymers.
Fresh off the release of his new album Confirmed, Lillard--known by his stage name of Dame D.O.L.L.A.--hopped on the phone with us to talk about the album, working with Adidas, and what it's like to be both a rapper and an athlete. Check our conversation below.
What was your inspiration behind this album? From title to album artwork to the tracks, what was the driving force?
Well, when I put my first album out it was called The Letter O, I just wanted to tell my story. My childhood to my ride through college to making it to the NBA. It's something I went through and that whole process is what I shared in the music. With this one I wanted to take it to the next step and kind of go into the life of a professional athlete and what's it like to be a famous person. I want to be transparent with it and show where I come from. That's why I named it Confirmed. I feel like I've settled in. This is who I am and this what I do, that was kind of the inspiration behind it.
You have Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz on the project, how’d did those tracks come together and what’s it like working with them?
I actually had Wayne featured on my first album and even before then I met him and we sent songs back and forth and kind of messed around over tracks, and I just asked him if he wanted to get on a track and he said yeah. It's a change of pace for the album. For 2 Chainz, I felt I had a song that would suit him really well and he was more willing to be a part of the project, so it was pretty cool having both of those guys to be a part.
How do you balance basketball and music?
I mean with being an athlete a lot of the time we get up in the morning and everything we have to do is done by noon. Usually we start maybe 9 or 10 o'clock and by noon or 1 we're done with practice and things like that. You got the shooting, you got the weights, you got actual practice, you get all that stuff out of the way and then we got a lot of time to ourselves. And even more time in the summer, where I get up earlier and work out at 6 or 7am and then I got the rest of the day to do whatever I want. Usually I'll find me a studio and I'll get in there and just let myself go. Most of my music is done in the summer so I have a lot of time.
What do your teammates think about the music?
They like it. The first album I put out was a little bit slower and didn't have much tempo, and I was telling my story that they've already known, but they all supported it. They all told me I can rap. This one is more special though because this one is more up-tempo, more broad topics, you know more things people would want to listen to on the daily as opposed to personal stuff. It's good to know that they respect me.
Your latest adidas shoe, the Dame 4 just came out a few weeks ago, what’s it like working with adidas creatively?
It's pretty cool. The fact that I play in Portland [American headquarters] makes it even better because I can be that much more involved in the process. Shoes, apparel, or any promotional stuff they want to do whether it's a commercial or some type of shoe, I can just walk into a meeting and if I have any questions or ideas I can go right to them in person. It's pretty cool, they allow me to tell my story. With these color ways, it's been working out. [Adidas employees] can pick my brain and sit down with me and I can share with them what I like, what materials I like, what colors I like and stuff like that. I'll call or come in and tell them if there's something I like or don't like. Then a week later, I'll do the same thing. It's kind of like they're doing their job and I'm there along the way to say yes and no.
Victor Oladipo just released a project himself, have you guys ever considered working together?
I actually didn't even know he had that new single until recently. I wouldn't be opposed to it, but we've never discussed it.
If you could make a collab album with another player in the NBA, who would it be?
My first choice would probably be my teammate Al-Farouq Aminu just because I know he is a producer. We've been talking about it so I would do something with him. As far as artists, I would say Iman Shumpert, because I know he's been doing music for awhile. And me and him, we've talked about doing things in the past so I'm proud of him.
What would you say to people who think NBA players should just stick to sports instead of rap?
I mean I think they're entitled to their own opinions, but we're also people outside of being athletes. We have other interests, and there's no better time than to bring those interests and those hobbies to life. I think it's a perfect time to use your platform to bring those other things to life, as long as your handling your things with the game of basketball.
Written by Corey Fuller
Photography by Nick DePaula