Ron Artest Talks Ball’n On Mixtape With Nas, Fat Joe

Laker tells Mixtape Daily about dropping release with new sneaker.

Mixtape Daily Main Pick — Ball Player with Bars: Ron Artest

Holding it Down For: Queensbridge, New York

Mixtape: Ball’n

Real Spit: When he’s not busy chasing around the opposing team’s best offensive players, Ron Artest of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers passes the time by picking up the mic. Back in 2006, Artest released his debut album, My World, and has been releasing mixtapes ever since.

Last year, the Queensbridge, New York, native was endorsing sneakers by Chinese brand Peak. But after connecting with upstart shoe company Ball’n at a summer basketball tournament it was sponsoring, he signed on as an endorser. What better way to launch his new sneaker than a mixtape, right?

“I was like, ‘Wow, we should have the mixtape come out with the shoe.’ The shoe came out All-Star Weekend,” Artest told Mixtape Daily. “A couple of weeks before that, we had the mixtape come out the same day as the shoe. So we was just having fun with the whole idea of music and basketball. You know athletes like to be rappers; I’m actually doing both, so it’s cool.”

Artest’s A&R skills might be on par with his talents on the court. The basketball player turned rapper locked in a who’s who of guests for his latest DJ Felli Fel mixtape including WC, [artist id="611"]Fat Joe[/artist], B-Real, Aventura, George Lopez (yes, the comedian), Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Nas, Ray J, Jim Jones, Kia Shine and Chet Haze (Tom Hanks’ son).

Artest’s own artists, such as Xin Xin, Rina C and Sheff La, also make appearances.

“I don’t call it features, I call it blessings ’cause it’s my biggest mixtape I’ve ever done,” Artest said of his guests. “I didn’t realize I would have this many features on the mixtape.”

Joints to Check For
» “Who I Am” – “Nas, he grew up 200 feet from me; he’s like an older brother,” Artest said. “I looked up to him playing basketball. Nas, when he was becoming a major success, I was a young kid like, ‘Wow.’ Him, Mobb Deep, I wanted to be successful. I want to make sure I pushed myself in basketball to be just like them.

Eventually, the music just rubbed off on me. Nas sent me the track and then I put my artist [Xin Xin] on the track. I wanted to get on the track, but I didn’t want to mess it up. Nas is a lyricist, one of the best. I didn’t know what can I say that can possibly make sense on a Nas track. So I said, ‘OK.’ I let my artist Xin, who’s a really good talent, I let her just sing some harmonies on the track, and people actually like her voice.”

» “On That New Sh–” – “The WC one is the one I’m most excited about, featuring D&D and Sheff La, produced by Q Made the Beat,” Artest said. “My producer didn’t want that beat. I said, ‘Nah, the beat is hot,’ so I sent it to Dub-C. He said, ‘What y’all want the song to be about?’ I said, ‘Nah, let’s just freestyle.’ We started with a WC freestyle, a beat that my producer didn’t want, to the song turning out crazy. We did the hook around WC. I laid the verse. Sheff La laid the verse.”

»“Go Loco” – “Obviously, Fat Joe, he’s single king, he always come with a hit, so you want to get that atmosphere in the club,” Artest said of the video for “Go Loco.” “So, when people hear the record in the club, they already know what it is. Do what you gotta do, get in the zone in the club, have fun, party to the music.

[Tiffany Zavala] is a dancer, so her part is going to be a little bit different from everybody else’s part. She sings, dances, ya know, pop.

Fat Joe is straight hip-hop. B-Real: straight hip-hop. Myself, I don’t know what I am. I’m just a basketball player who likes to rap. And then you got Aventura: straight bachata, Latino. Then you also have Down; he’s not going to be on the radio edit because the song was so long, but Down had ‘Lean Like a Cholo,’ a big record on the West Coast. So everybody had different aspects.”

For other artists featured in Mixtape Daily, check out Mixtape Daily Headlines.