V Exclusive: Ron Artest Talks New Mixtape, Taking 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 VIBE.com 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, VIBE.com 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 received 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.