History of Hip-Hop Albums by NBA Players | Can Damian Lillard go platinum?
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Damian Lillard is taking his music from #FourBarFridays to wax (well, digital wax). Just like the confidence he showed by competing in every All-Star event, the Blazer All-Star sounded the same when talking about doing something that no other basketball player since Shaq in 1994 was able to do – sell a million copies of a rap album.
“If my profile continues to increase, I think I can go platinum with my music,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “Not to knock anybody else who has done it, but I can actually rap. I have a story to tell. It’s not going to just be about basketball. I have more content than that. With the way I know I can get down, and the producers that I’ll align myself with, there’s no reason not to think I couldn’t go platinum. Shaq proved it’s possible.”
Shaq did show it was possible with great producers and guests (from Nas to Jay-Z to Rakim to Biggie) but he was also one of the most popular athletes in the world in the early 90s. But with the exception of having Dr Dre release “Detox: The Damian Lillard Version” I just don’t think he can get anywhere close to a million and that’s not a knock on him but a knock on the current state of the music industry and buying habits of it’s consumers.
But if Chingy and Soulja Boy can go platinum (note: during the ringtone years) then why not Damian?
HISTORY OF MUSIC BY NBA PLAYERS
A lot of people have mentioned that Shaq‘s debut album “Shaq Diesel” went platinum (1 million copies sold) back in 1994 but Shaq actually sold way more albums than most people think. Both singles from that album “I Know I Got Skillz” and “What’s up Doc (originally released as a Fu-Shnicken’s song feat. Shaq)” are certified Gold (500k copies sold). Shaq’s follow-up album “Shaq-Fu: Da Return” also went Gold.
This might sound like the dumbest first question ever but the first time I encountered Shaq back in 1993, the first thing I said was “When is the Fu-Shnicken’s album coming out” after seeing him perform on The Arsenio Hall show. He said “March” but it didn’t come out until later.
Shaq then appeared on the 1994 compilation album “B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret.” It was a flop but his next guest spot was on Michael Jackson’s “HIStory” album and that sold over 6 million copies. The song “2 Bad” was pretty bad but Shaq said the reason why he did was because Michael Jackson showed up to his house and personally asked him to be on it. Who is going to say no to Michael Jackson?
Shaq’s next couple albums, including the underrated “You Can’t Stop The Reign” failed to reach Gold status but still sold better than any other album put out by a NBA player. His single “Men of Steel” off the “Steel” soundtrack featuring Ice Cube, B-Real, Peter Gunz and KRS-One was a minor hit on the Rap & R&B charts but the OST did poorly – but not as poor as the film itself.
In 1998, Kobe made a memorable guest spot on the Trackmasters’ track for Brian McKnight called “Hold Me.” The single was a hit on the R&B charts and the album did go platinum but I don’t think Kobe deserves much credit for the album sales.
The next year Chris Webber dropped the album “2 Much Drama” which flopped but the single “Gangsta, Gangsta” with Kurupt of the Dogg Pound did make the top 10 on the Hot Rap Singles charts.
Columbia record then reunited Kobe and TrackMasters to record some new music. The product was a single called “Thug Poet” which featured Nas and a pre G-Unit 50 Cent. The song was featured on the B-side of his official single “K.O.B.E” featuring Tyra Banks, but after the single bombed, Columbia pulled the plug on the album.
A similar fate happened to Shaq’s final album “Superfriends” and Allen Iverson‘s debut album but Iverson’s “Jewelz” record was put on the shelf due to controversy and David Stern not wanting it to see the light of the day
Ron Artest released an independent album in late 2006 called “My World” and as expected the album with a song called “Workin’ The pole” and “I like my song” wasn’t well liked by anybody else.
Ex NBA player Rashad McCants under the alias King Suni Blac didn’t get much hype for his hip hop music but he’s been one of the most serious about making it. The same can be said about Stephen Jackson who performs under Stak5 and even did a song with Kevin Durant in early 2013. Even with the presence of Durant, the song never got any attention. The only video of Jackson rapping that did go viral was the one where he choked Steve Francis (who also had a rap record – Milli Vanilli style) during one of his performances.
Iman Shumpert released a free mixtape on Datpiff.com called “Th3#Post90s” and since December of 2012 it’s only been downloaded 19k times and streamed 29k times. Granted Iman isn’t an All-Star like Lillard but he’s pretty popular and likable and if he was only able to get 20k people to download his album for free then Lillard is going to have a real challenge getting 1 million people to buy his album.