NBA opening week is upon us, with the league set to kick off its new season tomorrow (October 29). And since the NBA and hip-hop have been joined at the hip for what seems like forever, XXL spoke to a number of basketball stars about their love for hip-hop and some of their favorite albums. With Atlanta being a hub of great young talented artists, we looked at the Atlanta Hawks first to talk to their star point guard, Jeff Teague. Now entering his fifth year, the former Wake Forest star is one of the leaders of the team and one of the young faces of the franchise. XXL got Jeff on the phone to discuss his love for Dipset and Jay Z, the hip-hop scene in Indiana where he grew up and just how far the Hawks can go this season. —Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)
Tell us about your first hip-hop moment.
The first CD I ever bought—well my sister bought it for me—was B.G.’s Chopper City In The Ghetto. That’s like the first one ever. I was a huge Cash Money fan at the time so I was just so happy; it was the best Christmas gift ever.
What’s your favorite hip-hop album?
The Black Album, Jay Z. [I'm a] huge Jay Z fan. I like how he had his mom on ["Dec. 4"]. I just thought that was a special moment. That’s when you know you made it, when you put your mom on the track. I really like Magna Carta…Holy Grail, I just thought what he did with that album was crazy.
What was the hip-hop scene in Indiana like when you were growing up?
We get things late; we get the music, but we get it a little later than everybody else. Everybody is into hip-hop. We have a great radio station [96.3] and great DJs—a guy name B Swift and DJ Wrekk 1, they were the two hottest DJs at the time. We also was in onto everything but just a little late.
What did you listen to when you went to Wake Forest?
At that time, that’s when Lil Wayne was just running everything, doing mixtapes every week, so I had a lot of Lil Wayne, and I’ve always been a Diplomat fan, so I had a lot of Cam’ron and Juelz Santana. I like More Than Music Vol. 2 and I love Purple Haze by Cam. “Killa Cam” is always one of my favorites. Also love “I’m Ready,” they got so many.
So what do you listen to now?
I’m a fan of everybody: I love Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross. I listen to everybody. And living in Atlanta we get a lot of Atlanta artists, so Migos and Future and everything. I love music. I got to have The Black Album, Magna Carta, American Gangster, Take Care, Tha Carter 1 & 2, Killa Season, Purple Haze, What The Game Been Missing by Juelz Santana and Ready To Die. And Drake’s new album.
With the NBA season coming, do you see yourself taking over the leadership role since so many players have left?
Yeah, definitely, Al [Horford] and I, we’re definitely comfortable together. We both try to lead by example. He’s a little more vocal than me; on the floor I’m very vocal, but in the locker room I’m a quiet guy and real laid back, and he’s more of a “rah rah” guy in the locker room. But we both do our job to try and help the team. I got some work to do, but that’s my goal, just to get better every year. And I feel like if I can continue to do that, I can eventually be one of those top guys. There’s a lot of guys that paid their dues and in the season, done great numbers, so you know I always pay respect, but I’m definitely on the rise.
How far do you think Atlanta goes this season?
I think the sky the limit for us. I mean, we can gel together, it’s all about clicking and if you get guys playing well together and you can catch teams, on any given night you can get wins. So if we can get our chemistry together fast we can get things rolling.
Who is your basketball idol?
Man, I used to love White Chocolate, Jason Williams. I always thought that he was so nice with the things he did with the basketball. I watch all his YouTube videos. But for me growing up I was like a street ball fan. I use to like Skip 2 My Lou and AND1 and those guys, Half Man, Half Amazing. I used to watch those guys a lot.