Recently, Jay Z has made headlines by entering the realm of sports management. But, the connections between the world of rap and basketball go much deeper. You can find millionaire rappers sitting courtside in almost any big market NBA arena. Multiple players have made appearances in music with their own rap albums and collaborating with musicians.
Brandon McCartney, AKA Lil B, knows more than well just how connected the world of rap and hip-hop is with the game of basketball. Growing up in the Bay Area, his life and his music have been heavily influenced by the many basketball players who have come from his neck of the woods. And, he's used the success of many basketball players as motivation and examples of how to move up the ranks an become successful.
I recently caught up with the Based God to talk everything from music to his multiple personas and the beauty that is the game of basketball.
Q: You've been considerably successful at only 23-years-old. What has been your main motivation that drives you?
Lil B: First, man, thank you. You know, just staying positive and all the people that really want to see me succeed and love me. I definitely do what I do for them. I have a lot of people that really love my music, man, and it's a blessing to have the support that I do. The support from the people, man. To get all the love from them, is just amazing and it keeps me going day by day.
Q: Is there any event or a person that really pushed you in the right direction?
Lil B: I got started when I was about 15, or 16. My first break through was the Vans song with my group The Pack. That became a worldwide thing. That changed the world, man. It changed music, it changed the game, it changed rap, you know what I'm saying? We started a movement and a new way to think about life and what music can represent. It taught me to also be innovative, man, and that's what I'm trying to do every day.
Q: You have created a, sort of, controversial image and message surrounding yourself and your music. Why make an album called, I'm Gay? Why get in beef with other rappers? What's the point in all that?
Lil B: To be honest, there's not too much controversy on my part. All the beef on my Wikipedia page is sort of outdated, the information isn't all correct. I wanted to get in contact with them and give them all the correct information. But, my mixtape changed the world. I'm a heterosexual man -- I love women -- but I also support the world and love everybody. I wanted to say it's about spreading love and breaking down barriers, not building up hate.
Q: I've been dying to ask, what's the difference between Brandon McCartney, Lil B, and Based God?
Lil B: It's all run by one person, but, real talk, Brandon McCartney is a book author, the Based God is perfect and Lil B is the trendsetter, the person that everyone follows and pays attention to. The Based God is amazing, man. I actually released a classical music album [Choices and Flowers] executive produced by Lil B and the Based God composed it. The album actually debuted on the Billboard Top 100.
Q: That's great it was successful, but what you do you mean by that? What does it mean that Lil B produced it but the Based God composed it?
Lil B: I can't make Based God music all the time. The Based God is something that is better than Lil B and better than Brandon McCartney; he's something that I aspire to be. Sometimes, I know it's not me that makes this music. Like, when the Based God comes, he speaks to me. It's not me, even though I'm there playing the music live, myself. I give it all to Based God, I'm just putting stuff together that the Based God gives me. We're just making history day by day, brother.
Q: So, I just want to clarify, you are not the Based God? He is some sort of super national presence that just takes over when you're writing lyrics and music?
Lil B: The Based God is a very complex thing. I know the Based God. The Based God's here, I can't say anybody else knows him personally, but he's here. The Based God showed himself in a video a couple years ago, it was a rare glimpse. Like I said, I'm Lil B and I just aspire to be the Based God. The Based God's perfect.
Q: So, you compare yourself to The Based God. But, is there a professional athlete that you can sort of compare his career path to yours?
Lil B: Yea, most definitely. Stephen Curry, Jeremy Lin. This isn't my personal opinion, but somebody once compared me to J.R. Smith. Real talk, Steph Curry is who I kind of feel like right now. Just a young, great new face in the game. I'm young and fresh in it and I know I'm a champion. I know I've got it in me, they can't stop me. Steph plays with that attitude too. He's gonna be a champion one day. I guess I'm kind of like J.R. because we're both unpredictable but we always come through, too.
Q: I know you play a lot of ball. Who is an NBA player that you compare your game to?
Lil B: A lot of my partners compare me to Ty Lawson. I share the same type of drive, I can get to the hole by any means necessary. I've been working on my jump shot, too.
Q: A lot of people compare the rap world and the basketball world and even view the two industries as connected. What are some parallels you see between the rap game and the League?
Lil B: Well, the Lebrons are Lil' Wayne and Jay Z. They're the best that's in the game right now. But, I'm the rawest rapper in the game. They have their rings but I'm coming for the championship. Diddy won a championship, 50 Cent, Eminem, a lot of people. They've all inspired me. I have a song that's called Rap Dreams, Hoop Dreams. Besides education, everybody's got hoop dreams from day one in rap. Rap, sports, music have so much of an impact on the world.
Q: I know one of your favorite players is Stephen Curry and that you are from the Bay Area, are the Warriors your team?
Lil B: Definitely Warriors. Warriors all the way, all day. But I have a special connection with every team and many players. Steph is definitely my favorite player, but shout outs to Russ Smith, he got his championship recently. He's a big fan of mine.
Q: Yea, I know you and Russ have interacted a lot on Twitter. How do you guys know each other?
Lil B: Russ is just a big fan of my music. He came to one of my shows once and that's where I met him. I just support the hell out of him and he supports the hell out of me.
Q: Going back to the NBA, we're in the middle of the playoffs right now. Who do you have winning it all, can the Warriors do it?
Lil B: The Warriors have shocked people before. The Warriors have done an amazing job thus far against the Nuggets. But, it's wide-open man. It's an open field for anybody. Miami is probably the best out of everybody, but it's an open field.
Q: Basically, you're everywhere. You know NBA players, you know college players, you know high school players. You're very in the rap game and you're very involved in the world of basketball. When it's all said and done and your career is over, how do you want people to remember Lil B. What is going to be your legacy?
Lil B: I want people to smile when they hear my name. I love everyone. I want to help make it a better time for the kids after me. That sums it up right there.