The KING-MAG.com Q&A: Ron Artest
Ron Artest keeps it real. Detroit Pistons' fans found that out the hard way two years ago in the waning moments of a home game against the Indiana Pacers. A beer hurled in Ron's direction triggered his mad rush into the stands and walloping of spectators in what would become the most memorable melee in recent sports history. But Artest is merely a product of his environment, which also explains why the Sacramento Kings' superstar is now rocking the mic like fellow Queensbridge-bred rappers MC Shan, Nas and Mobb Deep before him.
KING-MAG.com chopped it up with Ron Artest days before the release of his debut album, My World, tossing him inquiries about fatherhood, a black president and when keeping it real goes wrong.
KING-MAG.com: I read that you want to play in the NFL and spar in the square ring one day. Were you always an all-around sports head?
Ron Artest: Yeah, I'm a sports fan. I just love that God's given me the ability to be athletic. I feel like I can pretty much do anything I want. No matter what it is, I think I can do it if I put my mind to it.
Do you ever feel like you ever spread yourself too thin? By rapping and playing basketball do you feel that you take away from one by doing the other?
Yeah, sometimes I do because I focus on so many other things. If I focused on one thing I'd just be really great at one thing. I guess I can be good at a lot of things and that would be much better.
A lot of players have complained about the feel of the new NBA basketballs. What's your opinion on the new game balls?
It's not easy to shoot at times. But other than that, I don't have too many problems with them because I've been making some shots.
Yeah, you put up 19 points. [Ed Note: Ron Artest's 19 points came in an 84-81 pre-season loss to NO/OKC]
Yeah, that's a little something.
When did you first start rapping and how long has My World been in the making?
This album's been in the making for about four years and I first started rapping about eight years ago professionally. As far as actually making a song, I wasn't always able to make a song. But about four years ago, I started this album. I actually had like two albums done but they weren't that good so I never put them out. Finally, I got comfortable with the songs that I had and I said â€˜alright, I'll just put out this music.'
Listen to the first single, "Fever"
On the [second single] "Haters,â€ you say you've smoked before games and hit the liquor store at halftime. Is that true?
Yeah, sometimes when I was in high school or in college I would be so stressed out that I wouldn't even be thinking about the game. It took me a long time to realize that you're going to have hard times in life and if you just try to stay focused you'll be able to get through it.
On the same song, you mention teaching NBA Commissioner David Stern about the ghetto. What's the first lesson you would teach him?
Just about how we grow up, because when people do bad things to you, bad things happen to those people. The situation I was in (the brawl in Detroit)â€”you don't do things like that to people like me. You know what I'm saying? You don't just disrespect people and throw stuff at people because people aren't going to have it. And that was a lesson that I tried to explain. But [Stern] supported that racist dude that threw that drink at me.
Listen to "Haters"
After Dennis Rodman, you are probably one of the most misunderstood players in the NBA. Why do you think that is?
They expect people to be happy to be in the position I'm in and not really an all-out real person. I'm definitely happy to be in the situation I'm in as far as being in the league. At the same time, I'm a reality-based person, a real-life person. I make a lot of mistakes too.
Yeah, and everybody makes mistakes. You've just got to learn from them.
But sometimes people say they're mistakes and they're not really mistakes, it's just people not really understanding your views of life or understanding you. I think some things weren't mistakes, it was just people disagreeing. Everybody got the right to disagree.
Do you think your music will be a way for people to better understand where you've come from and who you are as a person?
Yeah, I think people will be able to see me as a cool person. I think people will be able to understand more about me. They'll be able to see that Ron is not a perfect guy; he's just a regular ol' type of dude with a lot of different views on life. I've got all types of songs on the album to give people a bit more understanding of what I've been through as a kid and now in the present. Not much on the future though.
When the whole situation happened in Detroit, how did you explain to your kids jumping into the stands and fighting fans?
It was pretty self-explanatory. I know when I was younger my parents told me to fight, beat 'em up or whatever. That's what I was brought up around. I always told my kids the same thing. If somebody was to throw something at my kids, I want my kids to go fight. Don't let anybody disrespect you.
Being someone with such a rough upbringing in Queensbridge, do you feel the need to let your kids understand what it's like in the hood or do you try to shelter them from that experience? Where's does the balance fall?
I raise my kids in the â€˜hood. In the summertime, they go back to the â€˜hood because it don't do no justice in just raising them in the suburbs. They need to see everything. I want my kids to be street smart just in case I'm not here anymore. For the most part, my kids, they have major street smarts.
If someone were to ask your kids to say one thing to describe their dad, what do you think they would say?
They'd call me a clown. I joke with my kids all the time. We got a real good relationship.
On the song, "I Like My Song,â€ there's a line about the lack of a black president. And [Illinois Senator] Barack Obama's been considering running for office, what do you think of his chances?
Barack Obama. He's a senator from Illinois.
Oh, he's black?
Yeah. He's thinking about running for President.
I said that [line] because I speak my mind. I think a lot of black people are scared to run for President because they're scared they'll be assassinated. We need more people running for president. I think everybody should run for Presidentâ€”Chinese, black, Puerto Rican, whatever. America is home of the free. I want to see a better world anyway, a better country.
Listen to "I Like My Song"
Last season was probably the most exciting season of the NBA in recent memory. Do you have any personal predictions for this season?
Personally, I just want my team to win. I just want to make sure we get off on the right foot. I think I'm one of the best players in the league but that doesn't win games. It's more team oriented. I'm so focused on my team right now so we can win games.
Platinum plaque or MVP trophy, which would make you happier?
I'd rather have a platinum plaque than an MVP trophy. I'd rather have a championship than a platinum plaque. But I'd rather have a platinum plaque than a MVP, definitely.