Burgeoning Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard signaled this week that he'll be the next basketball standout to try his hand at rap.
Lillard says he'll join Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson in making a foray into music. Lillard told reporters that he's working on a rap mixtape to be released later this year and, assuming all goes well, he plans to follow that up with an album.
“If my profile continues to increase, I think I can go platinum with my music,” Lillard said. “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.”
Lillard says putting verses together comes more naturally to him than playing basketball, which is as impressive as it is hard to believe. The 23-year-old won Rookie of the Year last season and was voted to the All-Star Game this year. He hasn't missed a game the past two seasons, and this year he's averaging 21 points to go along with 5.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds for the upstart Trail Blazers.
If you're looking for a hint at what Lillard's music may sound like, his Instagram videos are instructive. He started a tradition called "4-Bar Friday" in which he'll lay down a few verses in a 15-second video. Here are some of his recent clips:
If rap doesn't work out for Lillard, he's got an entertainment backup plan.
“I’m not an actor but I think it’s something that I can grow into if given time,” Lillard said. “I would like to play a part like how Ray Allen played Jesus Shuttlesworth. That’s something I’m interested in among some other things.”