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. Today, we looked at the veteran Los Angeles Clippers guard, Jamal Crawford. Now in his 13th season, the Seattle native is part of a Clippers team that looks to make a strong push for the title this season. XXL got Crawford on the phone to discuss Tupac, OutKast and the hip-hop scenes in each city he played for. Oh, and we also asked him who has the best crossover in the game. —Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)
What was your first hip-hop moment?
I remember Tupac vividly; I remember playing “Keep Your Head Up” and “I Get Around,” around the time when ‘Pac was first popping over to mainstream success. He had “Brenda’s Got A Baby” and “Keep Your Head Up.” It was so inspirational. I remember that being the one of the first moments for me of hip-hop.
What’s your favorite hip-hop album?
Definitely Life After Death. Definitely Reasonable Doubt and definitely The 7 Day Theory: Makaveli.
Tell me about Seattle’s hip-hop scene.
We always had a music scene—look at Kenny G, Quincy Jones, Pearl Jam. Sir Mix-A-Lot was, like, the first hip-hop dude that we could relate to. And now Macklemore has blown up all across the globe and he’s from Seattle and reps it hard so there’s always been a good scene there. It’s just very diverse, and Macklemore is holding it down now. I thought “Thrift Shop” was so creative. “Same Love” is blowing up. I like the “White Walls” song he has out right now with ScHoolboy Q. Macklemore doing his thing.
You’ve lived in almost every music market: Chicago, New York, Atlanta, The Bay, L.A. What’s the best hip-hop scene?
It’s tough. I can take something from everybody, ’cause obviously there’s Jeezy, Gucci in Atlanta, and OutKast, which is probably my favorite group ever. André is in my top 5 ever. Then in New York, the names speak for itself with Jay Z, 50 Cent, Styles P, everybody in New York. It’s like the Mecca. In L.A. now, it has a lot of history with ‘Pac, Snoop, Kendrick, Game, a lot of people doing their thing over there. Then in the Bay, you got E-40 and Too $hort, they’re legends. Plus Mistah F.A.B. is coming up. I’ve been in some great places. I listen to a lot of ScHoolboy Q, Kendrick, and the whole TDE movement. I listen to Game; he’s been doing his thing for a while. Those are the main people in L.A. that I listen to right now.
What’s on your iPod right now?
Wale, that’s the man, he’s dope. Jada, J. Cole, Kendrick, Jay Z, I listen to a lot of old stuff too, like ’90s hip-hop. I think this new era is getting like before. You know like before there was B.I.G., there was Mobb Deep, there was Nas, there was Snoop. I think this era is the closet we seen to that, getting back to that. I like Joey Bada$$—there’s a lot of artists I like that’s out.
What OutKast album resonates with you the most?
ATLiens was mine for sure. That was at a time, I was in high school. I just remember things changing. They weren’t as big—people forget, OutKast went platinum just about every album. A lot of people didn’t catch on until “Hey Ya” and “The Way You Move.” OutKast been dope. I love Dré’s style, man, he’s ill. He doesn’t change for anybody, doesn’t compromise for anybody. Every time he raps, he’s saying something, every time. I met a lot of people, like a lot of people, and that’s the one person who I would want to meet, who I would kind of be in awe of, because I loved him for so long and his talent his just ridiculous. André, to me, he’s your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. You got to really appreciate him. A lot of people don’t really give him the credit because he never did a solo album, but he’s definitely one of the top rappers that ever spit, to me. He’s in my top 5 period. I always play the “Players Ball (Reprise)” ’cause it reminds me of the time when I started making a name for myself in high school. Just always play that; it takes me back to that time. “Jezebel,” the Babyface version with him singing on that.
What are some songs you listen to before games?
There’s so many different songs. Like right now I love the Wale and Meek Mill song, “Heavens Afternoon.” I was somewhere else and wasn’t even thinking about basketball, I was on vacation actually but I worked out and I played that song. I told myself, “I’m going in this season,” and that song got me juiced. I had to tell Wale about that. We’re really cool.
How far do you think the LA Clippers can go?
I think the sky’s the limit. You know, in the beginning of the season you want to be optimistic and over the course of the season, things happen. But for us, we feel like our chances are just as good as anyone else’s. Obviously Miami is the champs and we got to respect them for that. But I think there are probably 7-8 teams that are really going for it, and I think we’re one of those teams. Honestly, I think we’re more talked about [than the Lakers] right now, but the Lakers have so much history. The only thing to change that is to win championships. So we’re not on that level in the big picture. Were just trying to make our own mark. They did what they did and you have to tip your hat to them and respect them. We’re just trying to make our own mark and not just in the city but in the league period.
Do you have the best crossover in the game?
It’s hard because if you ask Kyrie [Irving], he’ll say his is the best. You ask CP3 [Chris Paul], he’ll says he’s the best. If you ask me, I’d probably say the same thing. It’s hard to say you are. I won’t say I have the best, I’d say no person has a better one than me, if that answer your question. It’s weird, ’cause I play with Chris and Kyrie comes into the conversation. We talk about it, it came up. We definitely know who’s there in that room.
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
Houston Rockets Forward Chandler Parsons On Texas Hip-Hop, ‘The Chronic’ And Eminem
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