NBA players rapping is nothing new. Several ballers have moonlighted as MC’s, with varying degrees of ability and success. On the good side, Shaq dropped hit singles and platinum albums and Stephen Jackson a.k.a. Stak5 has released a few critically acclaimed projects. On the flip side, some cringe worthy music has been released as well—google those Jason Kidd bars on the B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret album for a not-so-good example.
Trailblazers guard Damian Lillard p.k.a. Dame D.O.L.L.A. definitely falls in the former category. Many people got hip to Dame’s skill when the Oakland, CA native appeared on Sway in the Morning in 2015. It is one thing to drop respectable rhymes over random beats, it takes a completely different level of skill to make good songs. That is exactly what Dame does on his second full project, Confirmed.
The album begins with the bar-fest “NO PUNCHES,” where Dame goes in for well over two minutes, spitting about his path to success, “Not many genuine souls out here living the truth/I do my thing in hoop/but live what I spit in the booth.”
The subject matter on most of the songs is what most would expect—ballin’, women and some bragging, mixed with a good deal of family, introspection and witty word play. On “BOSS LIFE” Dame spits “The value of the dollar quickly changed/Still don’t hit the strip club/but love the finer things.” This bar perfectly sums up his perspective as young black millionaire who has a good head on his shoulders.
The album isn’t just a display of witty curse-free rhymes, Dame and his team put together a cohesive body of work. “Switch Sides” is a southern leaning track that finds Dame switching up his flow to a double-time staccato, with Grammy nominated writer Verse Simmonds on the hook. “Shoota” is a clever radio-ready cut that is aimed at the ladies.
Confirmed has a few well-placed guest appearances from Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz and Nick Grant. Dame impressively holds his own with each of them. The aforementioned features, as well as those from BJ the Chicago Kid, Danny from Sobrante and Brookfield Duece, show that Dame wasn’t just reaching for the hottest names, he actually selected artists that fit the album’s theme.
Not everything on the follow-up is perfect. Some of the hooks on the project could use some updating, but overall, Confirmed is a solid sophomore album.
The day and age of just about anyone selling (not steaming) a million records is essentially over, so Shaq will most likely always be the most successful baller turned rapper. However Dame is well on his way to making a solid case for being the best MC out of the bunch.