XXL spoke to a number of basketball stars about their love for hip-hop and some of their favorite albums for the league’s opening week this week. We looked at a rising NBA star, Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parson, who plays in one of hip-hop’s hottest hubs. Now in his third season, the Florida native finds himself as the leader of the NBA’s most talked-about team. XXL got Chandler on the phone to discuss Drake, Houston’s and Florida’s hip-hop scenes, what made him a hip-hop fan and Dwight Howard joining the Rockets. —Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)
Previously: Portland Trailblazers Guard Damian Lillard On Growing Up On Juvenile And His 4 Bar Fridays Competition
Philadelphia 76ers Rookie Nerlens Noel On His Love For Drake And Boston’s Hip-Hop Scene
Atlanta Hawks Guard Jeff Teague On His Love For Dipset And Jay Z
Knicks Or Nets? Skyzoo And Troy Ave Break Down The Rivalry
Phife Previews The NBA’s Western Conference | And Eastern Conference
Who are you listening to now?
I really like Drake, I’m really into his whole new album Nothing Was The Same. Like a lot of the things he raps about, whether it’s from this album or the albums he’s done before, I feel like I can relate to them. I feel like, lyrically, he’s the best. [My favorite song on the album is] probably “The Language.” I really like “Started From The Bottom”—pretty much every athlete can relate to that—but I feel like that kind of got outplayed fast. But “The Language” is probably my favorite. Overall, “Shot For Me” is really good. It’s a little slower but I love that. “I Do It,” “Ignorant Shit,” “November 18” is great. Those are probably my favorites. Now, anything Drake, Take Care, Nothing Was The Same; I love Fabolous. Fabolous is probably one of my favorite rappers of all time. I like The Weeknd.
What is your favorite album of all time?
The Chronic definitely my favorite of all time. I just liked it. There’s a lot of Eminem and I just thought the songs were great. I got [MMLP2] downloaded onto the computer. I can’t wait for it to come out. I’ve always have been a big fan of his. I’ve always been into hip-hop just cause I played, like, travel baseball and AAU basketball. So I always listened to hip-hop before games to get me into the right mind state. I would say probably age 12, maybe 11 [I started listening]. I listened to everything back in the day, like Diddy, DMX, Mystikal, Mobb Deep, everything.
What’s the hip-hop scene like in Orlando?
Not really anything. There’s a kid named Caskey that got signed to Cash Money who’s from my hometown. He got two big songs that blew up on WorldStarhiphop. One is called “Words,” one is called “Keep It On The Low,” and he’s pretty much the biggest rapper to come out of Orlando.
When you attended University of Florida, what are some of the music y’all listened to before games?
Lil Wayne, Drake, Kanye, Jay Z, all the same stuff that I listen to now. [Now] I listen to “Started from the Bottom” pretty much every time. I listen to Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers a lot, I love that. Pretty much anything Drake.
Describe the Houston hip-hop scene.
It’s different; a lot of it is chopped and screwed and slow. Kirko Bangz is actually a good friend, he lives in my building and I’m a big fan of his music. And Slim Thug, Bun B and Paul Wall. I feel like it’s different but it’s definitely huge in Houston.
How far do you see the Rockets going this season?
I think we have a great chance, we have had an unbelievable preseason and everybody got better. The chemistry on the team is so good. Everybody is gelling so quick and so fast right now that I think we’re just as good as anyone out there. I know it’s just preseason but we beat Memphis easily, we beat San Antonio easily and we didn’t even play in the second half with these types of teams. Obviously it’s different when the lights are on and it’s the regular season. But we’d be selling ourselves short if we didn’t think we couldn’t win a championship. We’re not just playing with each other because we have to. Everybody is friends, everyone is similar in age, everyone enjoys each other. Dwight [Howard] is so outgoing and personable that everyone attracts to him.
Is Houston’s starting 5 one of the best in the league?
Yeah, and I think our bench is very underrated; depending who starts at the point, you either having Pat Beverly or Jeremy Lin off the bench. We pretty much have two starting point guards, so we can’t lose there. Francisco Garcia is a knock down shooter. Greg Smith, Omer Asik are great bigs coming off the bench. Omri Casspi I feel like is going to have a great year playing the four with mismatches. Our starting 5 is great with me and the best shooting guard in the league and the best center in the league, we’re going to be every talented. But I think our bench is just as good as anyone in the league.
You are the longest tenured Rocket right now. Are you the leader of the team?
Yeah, I’m definitely the leader of the team. It’s not going to take one individual, it’s going to be everyone, but as far as every time we get new guys, I’m telling them what spots are around town, where to live. On the court, just knowing the system, I’ve been around coach McHale the longest here so if any questions that these guys have I’m a good resource that’s been that for two years now.