V Exclusive: Ron Artest Talks New Mixtape, Criticism For Rapping And The Lakers' Major Struggles

Ron Artest doesn't really care if you don't like to hear him rap. He doesn't care if you think he should put down the mic and get more focused on basketball. And he doesn't care if you didn't like to see him release his most recent mixtape, Ball'n, on on Thursday morning—just hours after his Los Angeles Lakers suffered a crushing defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He's committed to doing this music thing. And if you don't like it? Well, too bad. He's not planning on stopping anytime soon, so you'd better get used to it. Shortly after he dropped Ball'n, caught up with Artest and asked him to explain exactly why he can't get enough of the rap game. And in typical Ron-Ron fashion, he didn't disappoint.—Chris Yuscavage


VIBE: You got a lot of good feedback last June when you released "Champions" after the Lakers won in the NBA Finals. That seemed like it'd be an ideal time to drop a mixtape. So why did you wait more than eight months to put more music out?

Ron: I wanted to put it out right after I put out "Champion." I like to put my music out right after I record it. But the problem is that I do that and then it's not always the best quality. I record stuff all the time in my hotel room, the bathroom, and even in one of my trucks where I have a mini-studio installed. But I obviously don't have a vocal producer there when I do record in any of those places. I don't have an engineer. I'm there by myself. So a lot of my songs don't sound their best at first and people don't always respect the reason behind it. That's why I really wanted to take my time with this mixtape and get it right.

The funny thing is that, while this is a Ron Artest mixtape, you're actually not on it as much as people might expect. You've got a ton of guest verses from established artists as well as your own artists. Why did you make that decision to scale back your rapping on the project?

I'm glad you noticed that. On the mixtape, I actually only did a few verses and some of the hooks. I couldn't do whole songs because I didn't have the time to do it. That's why you hear so many of features. It's the middle of the season, so I didn't have much time to record whole songs for the project. That's why I called in the reinforcements.

You bring up an interesting point, because you've got a ton of slack for releasing music during the season. It gives people the impression that you're focusing on rapping over playing ball. So, when you do record, when do you find the time to do it?

I record all the time. I record a lot before games. To tell you the truth, I recorded a song before Game 7 of the NBA Finals last year. I like to do that because I have so much on my mind and it's really important for me to let it out. And when I'm able to let it out on a beat and listen to it, it's the best feeling in the world.

That may be true, but you obviously catch a lot of heat for doing it. Do you pay attention to the blogs out there that take shots at you for rapping during the season?

Yeah, I saw a couple people were mad the other night when I put the mixtape out right after the game. A couple people were mad because we lost. But then I also read people writing, like, 'Wow.' They appreciate that I have this other side to me and they like to see me putting out new material.

But isn't it hard to avoid all of the negative press you get for rapping? I give you a lot of credit for sticking with it, but when you go online and see people saying negative things about you, what do you think?

I know a lot of people do it, but I can't really listen to all that. I don't know who these people are. [Laughs] It could be a little Asian girl posting as 'Tom.' It could be an Arabian dude from India posting as 'Gangster Dude.' So, why should I listen to what they have to say? I'm living hip-hop. Who's living it more than me? I am hip-hop. So I don't really let none of these people bother me. They can't tell me nothing.

It sounds like you do a good job of blocking your haters out. Like, you don't dwell on what they have to say too much.

No way. After everything I've overcome? I overcame the struggles that it took to get to the NBA. I overcame having to come home after that and having to worry about people asking me for thing. I overcame everything. So I dare someone to say that I'm not a rapper. I'll overcome that, too.

You got a lot of support of this project from some of your fellow rappers. Nas, Bun B, Gucci Mane, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire and a handful of other artists make guest appearances. Did you have to call in a lot of favors to get them involved? Did you know them prior to asking for verses? How did it all go down?

That was all me. That was hard. I put this whole mixtape together. Like, for instance, I know Birdman but that's not how I got the Gucci Mane and Birdman song, "Mouth Full of Gold," that's on the mixtape. I got that from Gucci. He actually used my name on one of his songs [Ed. Note: Artest gets a shout-out from Gucci on his single, "Gucci Time."]. So I reached out to him and told him that me and a lot of the Lakers mess with his music and he was open to giving me that song for the project. Everybody else that appears on the tape, I built relationships with over the years. Obviously, Nas is my man.

Was there anyone you reached out to that wasn't receptive to sending you a verse? Or, anyone that you wanted on the mixtape that you couldn't get?

I was going to get a verse from Prodigy from jail, but I didn't want to get him into any trouble for doing that. I wanted to get the jailhouse exclusive, but I ended up not doing it because I know he gets out soon and I didn't want him to get into any trouble for laying down a verse for me.

We started off talking about your "Champions" and the Lakers winning the title last year. But your squad has been struggling for a couple of weeks now. What do you think you guys need to do so that you can get to work on "Champions 2" in a couple months?

Actually, we already started working on the record!

Really? You must be pretty confident that you guys can turn things around after the All-Star break this weekend.

Yeah, "Champions 2," I'm already working on it. But to answer your question, it's very important for us to start playing more like a unit. The Lakers team is a family. And we have to start acting like it. We have to be like the Huxtables, man. That's what it's gonna take. We have to be more like the Huxtables during the second half of the season and that's what we're going to do. And once we do, I'll be able to give my fans the "Champions 2" song that they're looking for.



Ron Artest's Ball'n mixtape is available for free download here. And if you're not following him already, make sure you follow Artest on Twitter here.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Ebro Calls Out Kodak Black For Sexual Assault During Interview

The Internet's latest victim of unwarranted hate is Ebro Darden, host of Hot 97's Ebro in the Morning. currently awaiting trialThe Internet is split on Darden's attempt to try to discuss Kodak Black's sexual assault allegations. He is for charges of criminal sexual conduct from a sexual assault indictment in 2017.

During the rapper's visit to the radio show on Wednesday (Dec. 12), everything seemed fine and dandy. However, around 15-minutes in, Ebro brought up the Floridian's current sexual assault case.

“Look man, at this point, it’s a pleasure to meet you man,” Ebro says near the 15-minute mark of the 17-minute interview. “You know, looking at all your cases and everything you’ve been through, and I know the recent one right now is very sensitive. Respect to everybody involved in that case, we can’t get into details today… We take sexual assault here serious. We can’t get into details, but we hope to have you back, so that we can have a deeper conversation about that. It’s a serious topic, we’re hearing these stories a lot."

Peter Rosenberg swiftly tries to deflect from the conversation by asking Kodak if the moon landing of 1969 was a conspiracy. However, Ebro brings up the musician's clear anxiety over the fact that he brought up the case.

"I feel like sometimes, when n***as like me are going through sh*t, y'all be entertained," says Kodak as he squirms in his chair. "Like, change the subject... talk about something else." Ebro then brings up that they tried to change the subject, and if there's nothing left to discuss, the interview could be over. At that point, Kodak gets up from the mic and walks away.

On Twitter after the interview began to gain virality, Ebro wrote that he did not discuss any specifics about the case, and that he was just trying to have a "balanced" conversation. While many members of the Twittersphere are praising Ebro for attempting to have a conversation about the elephant in the room, others are calling him out for "baiting" and bringing up something that "he shouldn't have brought up."

What are your thoughts?

I was tryna have a balanced convo with Kodak Black & not ignore the serious allegations against him but also not ask specifics to make his situation worse... and he wanna get an attitude with me?? Nah....

— El Viejo Ebro (@oldmanebro) December 12, 2018

He’s young black rich and ignorant. He was suppose to be uncomfortable about it.

— Nisha2much (@NautiNish) December 13, 2018

If you bring it up then say "we cant get into details tho" thats not a balanced convo thats baiting

— Scam SZN (@SumBlaqGuy) December 12, 2018

READ MORE: Vic Mensa Defends Critical XXXTentacion Freestyle On Instagram

Continue Reading
Sir Elton John covered Khalid's 'American Teen' single for Spotify Singles.
Getty Images

Sir Elton John Covers Khalid's "Young Dumb And Broke"

Khalid has had the opportunity to cover songs from some legendary musicians like Tracy Chapman. Now, the tables have turned. Sir Elton John recently covered the Texan’s 2017 hit “Young Dumb & Broke.”

The “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” musician reworked Khalid’s American Teen track for the Spotify Singles series. In a statement, he praised the young musician’s growth, and he called the song “one of [his] favorites.” Khalid can be heard at the end of the Elton version singing along.

“I discovered Khalid’s music a few years ago, and have been a fan ever since,” Sir Elton wrote. “We finally met when I played his home town of El Paso last year. It’s a thrill to be a small part of any new artist’s journey, and it’s been wonderful to see his star continue to rise and rise. ‘Young Dumb & Broke’ is a fabulous song, one of my favorites, and I’m really pleased that he liked my cover enough to contribute vocals.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Sir Elton has praised members of the newer generation of music. His song “Rocket Man” is sampled in Young Thug’s On The Rvn EP. In the past, he’s sung Thugger’s praises, namely in a 2015 interview with Noisey, where he noted he enjoyed how he pushed the boundaries of hip-hop.

Listen to Sir Elton John’s cover below.

this is so crazy Thank you so much @eltonofficial

— Khalid (@thegreatkhalid) December 12, 2018

READ MORE: Young Thug Has A New Fan And His Name Is Elton John

Continue Reading

'Sesame Street' Praised For The Inclusion Of Homeless Character

Sesame Street continues its crusade to include statement-making characters on their block. This time around, families will be introduced to Lily, the show’s first homeless character.

According to USA Today, Lily- an adorable hot pink, red haired puppet- was first introduced to the show in 2011, but in new online clips, Lily opens up about being homeless and staying with friends.

"Now we don't have our own place to live, and sometimes I wonder if we'll ever have our own home," she says to Elmo in one clip. In her initial appearances on the show, Lily discusses her family’s food insecurities, meaning they didn’t have much to eat.

“We know children experiencing homelessness are often caught up in a devastating cycle of trauma – the lack of affordable housing, poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home, the trauma of actually losing their home, and the daily trauma of the uncertainty and insecurity of being homeless,” said Sherrie Westin, President of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop.

“We want to help disrupt that cycle by comforting children, empowering them, and giving them hope for the future," she continues. "We want them to know that they are not alone and home is more than a house or an apartment – home is wherever the love lives.”

In recent years, Sesame Street has introduced a slew of ground-breaking new characters, including Julia, a puppet with autism, and Alex, a character whose father is incarcerated.

READ MORE: 'Sesame Street' Introduces A Character Who Has A Father In Jail

Continue Reading

Top Stories