Heard It All
Most NBA players are into rap. Few though, know hip-hop as well as Memphis Grizzlies star Zach Randolph.
Interview Tzvi Twersky

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Over the course of a four-team, 13-year NBA career, Zach Randolph has earned quite a reputation. The current Memphis Grizzlies power forward is known as a reliable interior scorer, rugged rebounder and, most of all, as someone who never backs down. The 33-year-old also wants to be recognized, though, for his profound love of hip-hop. In fact, Randolph claims he might be one of the biggest rap fans in the entire NBA. During a recent wide-ranging convo with XXL, the 6’9” behemoth from Marion, Ind., tried proving his chops. He knows.

XXL: What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
Zach Randolph: I’m from the Midwest, but I grew up listening to everything. I was into Tha Dogg Pound, C-Bo, of course Snoop and Dre. I was also into Southern music, like Pimp C and my boy Bun. No Limit, Mac Dre, everything man.

Seems like you've always been big into music.
Always. Me and my little brother were big into it. Now, it’s what gets me going before our games. I put on that Future, that Jay Rock, Kendrick, Nips, Doe B, Freddie Gibbs, local artists. My iPod’s filled up.

A lot of guys in the NBA know their music, but you think you're up there at the top with your knowledge?
Yeah, I know more music than most guys for the simple fact that I got relationships with these artists, too. I hang with these guys and kick it with them.

You kind of carry yourself more like a rapper than a player. You keep it true to yourself and don't sanitize yourself for the media.
That’s just how I’ve always been. I be me. You can ask guys about me. Ask 2 Chainz, Fat Joe, Jay Rock—the list is long. I was actually at Yo Gotti’s restaurant last night. Them my homeboys. They all used to hoop, all the rappers used to play ball so there’s a lot of respect. We all keep it 100 and treat each other with respect.

Like you said, they all used to play ball. Did you ever try rapping, though?
Man, I tried to but I quit. I couldn’t rap at all. I’ll kick a little flow here and now though, but I’m no rapper. A few guys in the League can flow—Stack Jack, Iman Shumpert, Damian Lillard. I was talking to Coach K, who used to manage a few big Atlanta acts [and currently manages Migos and OG Maco], the other day about getting into the game and maybe having an artist or two and start a label.

Who else on the Grizzlies is big into hip-hop?
Tony Allen is real big on music. Shit, really everyone on our team loves music. But I control music in the weight room when I’m in there, or Tony does. Actually, Jeezy is in town right now. I’m gonna go see him when I leave the gym. I deal with them, man. I mess with them. All hoopers want to be rappers, and all rappers want to be hoopers. Like Drake said, it’s true.

You're from Indy and like Gibbs, but you're also cool with Jeezy. What did you think about their beef, and is there beef in the NBA, too?
I don’t really know about what happened between them, I’ll have to go look back. As far as the League, ain’t no beef, ain’t no real beef. I don’t beef with these guys. Guys might get into it on the court, but it stays on the court.

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