Over the course of his first five years in the NBA, Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson has played with a slew of great players. He has counted, to name a few, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried as teammates. Unbeknownst to many, though, the 26-year-old has also encountered some other big names on the court, too.

“I think it was during my rookie year, in the summer, we were all in Miami—me, J. Cole and Chris Brown—and we were playing outside at the W Hotel,” says Lawson, who averaged 17.6 points and 8.8 assists per game this past season. “Cole held his own. Chris held his own, too.”

Starring in the NBA keeps Lawson plenty busy. But when he does have free time, the native of Clinton, Md., can usually be found listening to hip-hop. In a recent phone call with XXL, the NBA veteran point guard discussed what he’s currently up on, how he finds new music, who he’d like to spend a day with and more.—Tzvi Twersky

XXL: Who are your favorite current rappers?
Ty Lawson: Right now my favorite rappers are probably Lil Wayne and Drake. That’s all I’m listening to right now. Those are my top two. I also like Migos, and [in general] people who have good beats. I also listen to YG and K Camp. That’s about it right now.

You listen to more of Wayne’s recent stuff or his older work?
Recently I’ve been listening to old Wayne. Mixtapes and stuff mostly. Not too much of the new Wayne.

I know people from the DMV tend to support other people from the DMV. With that said, do you mess with Wale, Logic and those guys?
Probably more Wale. He hasn’t come out with anything recently, but I listen to a little Wale.

What do you listen to before games?
All hype music. I even listen to, like, Riff Raff before games. I listen to K Camp, Migos, just more like that hype-type music.

Are you up on the newest artists too?
Yeah. I forgot about Young Thug. I’m trying to look through my playlists right now. Before games I listen to all that type of music where they might not be saying nothing but it’s good beats. I forgot Chief Keef, too.

When you’re moving around during the season, how do you stay up on new music?
A little bit friends and a little bit Internet. I look at [sites], and [teammate] JaVale [McGee]. That’s all he does. When we’re on the plane listening to music, I’ll be like, "What’s that?" And I’ll ask JaVale real quick.

ty lawson denver nuggets hip-hop

When you were coming up, did you try rapping at all?
Nah. My best friend, he raps a lot. When we’re in the car, I might do two bars. They call me “Two Bar Ty.” I can do two bars, but that’s as far as I go.

When you played in Russia during the NBA lockout, did you introduce your teammates to hip-hop or were they already up on it?
They were on a lot of EDM, but they also knew a lot of hip-hop. They knew the words to some of the songs I played, which was funny.

A lot of rappers are big into basketball and go to games and stuff. Are you cool with any rappers?
I’m cool with Wale, J. Cole. And I’m cool with Chris Brown.

I’ve heard J. Cole is a pretty good player. What do you think about that?
He’s actually aight. I think it was during my rookie year, in the summer, we were all in Miami—me, him and Chris Brown—and we were playing outside at the W Hotel and he held his own. Chris held his own, too. I think Chris might be better than J. Cole, but they both held their own out there.

If you had to name your top five rappers, dead or alive, who would you go with?
In no order, I would take, of course, Biggie, Jay Z, Andre 3000. When you say “best” do you mean lyrical-wise or any type of best?

Any type off your head.
OK. So I would take those three, Lil Wayne and 'Pac.

This past year, everyone jumped on TDE and Kendrick Lamar. You big into that movement?
I’m a big Kendrick Lamar fan. You know, ScHoolboy Q, I just downloaded “Man Of The Year” and “Studio.”

Before games, you listen to get hyped. But when you’re in the cut, what do you listen to?
Probably my slow jams. I listen to Mariah Carey a lot.

Shows in Denver tend to be crazy. When you’re out there during the season, do you get to go to any shows?
I go to more of the mainstream ones. They have a lot of underground shows there, but I don’t think I’ve been to one yet. But I hear they’re crazy out here to go to.

If you could kick it with any rapper for a day, who would it be and where would you kick it?
It would probably be Tupac. He’s so influential. I’ve watched a lot of interviews, and I’d like to pick his brain. I’d kick it with him somewhere [on the] West Coast and just chill, pick his mind and see where his thoughts are coming from.