Nick "Swaggy P" Young has had an impressive year both on and off the court. On the court, the Los Angeles Lakers swingman put up career numbers in both points and assists in the 2013–14 season, which landed him a four-year, $21.5 million contract to re-sign with the team. Off the court, Young has seen his popularity skyrocket. Swaggy P hosted the red carpet at the 2014 ESPY Awards and landed a spread in the March issue of GQ magazine with his girlfriend, former XXL Freshman Iggy Azalea. Growing up on the West Coast, Swaggy P was heavily influence by hip-hop and even picked up the mic himself.

Nick Young spoke to XXL about growing up wanting to be Ma$e, if he ever considered being a rapper and going out with one of the hottest rap artists—both figuratively and literally—right now. —Emmanuel C.M.


XXL: How did you get into hip-hop?
Nick Young: I would say Ma$e and Puff growing up. And, of course, Tupac.

When was the first time you heard Puffy and Ma$e?
I remember going to get the No Way Out CD and I thought I was Ma$e, and my homeboy thought he was Puff Daddy. “All About The Benjamins,” “All Around The World,” “Victory” was cold. He had a couple of them. I remember that one song that was towards the end of the album, ["Pain" or "Friend"], one of those, man, that was my bang.

It’s cool you said Tupac. All Eyez On Me just went Diamond recently. What are some of your favorite Tupac moments?
Tupac was the man, he’s a legend. I still listen to him today. I still listen to “Heavy In The Game,” “Me Against The World.” I still can bump him anywhere.


What do you listen to get pumped up before games?
I got a cool playlist. I listen to Drake's “Worst Behavior,” J. Cole's Sideline Story. I listen to “m.A.A.D city,” Kendrick Lamar. That’s about it for the most part.

You ever see yourself rapping?
Ah man, we use to tie the string on the ceiling and have a recorder and just have fun when I was growing up. Like, my brother is a hip-hop head, he got a little studio in his place. We go in there, put down a couple of tracks. Mostly my songs don’t be coming out right. I end up sounding like Lil B or somebody. [Laughs]

Nice, so you recorded some music?
Yeah, just playing around

Who would you say is a rapper now whose style you embody?
That’s tough. I like Big Sean.

What’s the last couple of songs you downloaded on your iPod?
I got that Bobby Shmurda record ["Hot Nigga"] and Young Thug's “Lifestyle.”

What you think of Bobby Shmurda? You going to Shmoney Dance when the season starts?
Yeah, I’m going to pull that one out. I already did it on Instagram.


What other music are you bumping? Any young artists?
Rae Sremmurd, the song “No Flex Zone” is pretty cool, even got my mom saying it. That’s pretty big. Meek Mill, some of the Chicago rappers too.

Do you go by Swaggy P when you rap or do you have another rap persona?
I go by Swaggy P.

How did you get that nickname?
Just playing around and one day my homies was talking about how I dress, and everything I did became swag and stuff. So I just through the P in there.

What album you find yourself listening to all the time.
I’m a big Kanye fan and Fabolous fan. Fab still underrated.

I saw the Instagram picture of you with a throwback picture of yourself and Fab side by side, y’all really did look alike.
I thought I was Fab, man [Laughs]. I was hanging out with Fab and showed him that picture, he was laughing. He made me send it to him and everything

What type of music did you grow up to?
I’m L.A., so it was Daz [Dillinger] Kurupt, you had the movement with Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too $hort. Too $hort stay rappin' forever, he can put out anything. Warren G, Nate Dogg, I’m all the way West Coast. Suga Free, DJ Quik, I grew up in that era, the gang banging era and everyone was C-walking.

When you went to the Washington Wizards, did you get into Go-Go Music?
I tried to get into it, but I always used to talk trash about it. I could never get into it. I don’t know how they can dance to that. I just said, that will never hit mainstream. That is just strictly D.C.

Who else on the Lakers are big hip-hop fans?
Jordan Hill listens to all Atlanta music, especially Migos. Kobe is Lil Wayne or Jay Z all day. Steve Nash, I don’t think he’s listening. It’s all different.

Who controls the music in the locker room?
I try to throw in my West Coast music and they start talking trash. Like, I put on some YG and they started talking trash, and Jordan would put on some Migos. But I’m like, how are you going to work out to Migos? It’s pretty funny.

Photo: GQ


What’s your favorite song off Iggy’s The New Classic?
I like “Don’t Need Y’all.” She can spit. I was shocked when I first heard her album. She aight.

You ever try to battle rap her?
Yeah, in the car. I go to YouTube and get an instrumental and start playing around.

Who usually wins?
I can spit; I can freestyle a little bit [Laughs].

So how have you been preparing for the upcoming season?
Just working out, really. Getting a chance to work out with Kobe has been crazy. To me, he’s one of the best players to play this game.

Any advice that Kobe gave to you that stuck out?
Pretty much just waking me up early in the morning and telling me to come to the gym. Just working out with him and picking up little pieces from him and teaching me certain parts of the game I didn’t really know about.

You have any goals you want to accomplish this year?
I really want to get into the playoffs and go from there. That’s pretty much my main thing.


I saw you hosting the ESPYs red carpet. You looked like a natural.
[Laughs] I’m a star, man, that’s what I do. [Laughs] That is something I want to do. I was a little nervous, though. That was my first time doing that and it was a big stage. It felt good. Everybody gave me a lot of good feedback.

You had a really good year; on the court you getting buckets, off the court you got one of the hottest chicks in music and your popularity has skyrocketed.
[Laughs] I’m blessed, man. A lot can change in a year. I don’t know my name no more, man, I’m Swaggy P out here in these streets. [Laughs]

Seriously, you need to get that name trademarked.
We’ve been working on it.

How’s relationship life? You're dating a rap star. Do you ever tell yourself that?
I do. Sometimes I just come home she's at the house chilling, and I’m thinking to myself, "Damn, this is really real, okay." But it’s cool because I don’t have to pay for everything. [Laughs]  She’s real cool, man.