*Warning: this show includes explicit language.*
Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell is one of the most promising players in the current lineup. We visited the Lakers' practice facility to find out his favorite songs. His all hip hop playlist shows many sides of the 20-year-old Kentucky native. Hosted by Jason Bentley.
Photos courtesy of Dustin Downing
1. J. Cole - Rise and Shine
2. Lil Uzi Vert - I Can Drive
3. Future - Married to the Game
4. Rae Sremmurd - Look Alive
5. Travis Scott - Goosebumps
Jason Bentley: Hi. This is Jason Bentley from KCRW, and I am here with Laker’s point guard, D’Angelo Russell. The 20-year- old Kentucky native is one of the most promising players in the current line up, and we are happy he has taken some time out of his practice schedule to sit down and talk to us about music as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. D’Angelo, how are you, man?
D’Angelo Russell: I’m great. What an introduction, wow!
Bentley: So, listen, we are sitting with you at a unique moment in time; just finishing up pre-season, how did it go for you?
Russell: I think pre-season was great. As a team, we took a lot of steps forward. Everything was new for us; you know, new players, new coaching staff. It was just a whole whirlwind as far as those aspects, but I feel that we are on the right track.
Bentley: Well, set it off for us on your song picks for the Guest DJ Project. What’s the first one you want to choose?
Russell: I am a big J. Cole fan, so J. Cole’s “Rise and Shine”. That’s the song I listen to every game day, just driving to the arena.
Bentley: This sounds like a conquering song.
Russell: Yeah, I feel like that song gets you up. Even the title, “Rise and
Shine,” it really gets you up and gets you in that confident mentality. It’s, I don’t know, the aggressiveness in the music and the song. It’s a motivational song. He has Jay Z speaking in the introduction.
Bentley: You are a point guard, which, you know, you’ve got to be confident in that position, right, because you are the key player on the team, bringing the ball up every set. That’s a lot of pressure, man. I don’t know how you do it.
Russell: You just know where you came from. So, you know how hard it was to get to where you are at now, so you got to have the confidence to keep it on top.
Bentley: Well, let’s check it out. D’Angelo Russell is our Guest DJ on KCRW, pick number one is Rise and Shine by J. Cole.
*Song: J. Cole - Rise and Shine*
Bentley: What is your second selection for us today?
Russell: I’m also a Lil Uzie fan. People know who he is, but I don’t think a lot of people listen to him as much as they should.
Bentley: This guy’s style is unusual.
Russell: Yeah, he’s a different character. He’s so versatile, you know. He has colorful dreads, and then he’ll switch it up and wear the glasses and the suit, you know, but he’s very versatile. This song is “I Can Drive” it’s from his new mix, all his songs are very different, no other song sounds like another one. It’s different, it’s more of where he’s come from. He’s from Philly. They ride the four wheelers and stuff like that. Now, he’s talking about how he can drive, he has the money to pay for fast cars. This song is “I Can Drive”, so it’s all about the cars and speed. That song just really gets you wanting to move fast, you’re just really hyped and excited.
Bentley: How have you stayed focused and disciplined in the big city, here, Los Angeles, where there are so many distractions for you as a young man?
Russell: At this point, the limelight’s way bigger being in L.A., so, you got to realize that there’s always eyes’ watching you, no matter what. But, at the same point, it can be a good thing too, because there’s so many celebrities and movie stars and singers, rappers, whatever it is; people that have multiple different fan bases here. So, you are not the only star here, as far as, if you go to a different city they might JUST have a basketball team, no football team, and you are the only fish in that fish bowl that everybody can see through.
Bentley: Alright, well, let’s check out your second pic, “I Can Drive” by Lil Uzi, is it Lil Uzi Vert, or just Lil Uzi?
Russell: Lil Uzi Vert.
Song: Lil Uzi Vert – *I Can Drive*
Bentley: It’s KCRW.com, I’m Jason Bentley. We are sitting with D’Angelo Russell here at the Laker’s practice facility, very exciting for me as a lifelong Laker fan. Is it intimidating for you to be in this environment where the expectations are just so high?
Russell: It’s not intimidating. It’s definitely a challenge that not a lot of people are up to take, but I can only speak for myself, I know that I am definitely up for the challenge, definitely want to get on this wall one day. That’s a goal for me to set, you know, to get on this wall. You see so many greats and so much success on this wall, just walking around up and down the stairs, in the hallways, in the kitchen, wherever you’re at, you see so much success.
Bentley: Alright, so your third selection for us of five, what do you have?
Russell: I got Future. Future’s fan base has grown throughout the years, but this is something new, also. “Married to the Game”. A lot of these rappers, they are rapper singers, whatever it is, their titles kinda explain it all. It’s really self-explanatory. This one’s “Married to the Game”, and it’s just really talking about, once again, where he’s coming from and what he’s able to do now that he is where he is now.
Bentley: Do you feel that way?
Russell: Yeah, definitely, definitely. I feel like when you’re listening to music, it plays a part in what you’re going through, the type of music that you listen to. So, if you just had a break up or something, you go and listen to, I don’t know, Chris Brown or Trey Songz or even Drake, I don’t know. But, if you’re partying or ready to party, you listen to guys in that era, this one’s really a mellow song.
Bentley: Describe for our audience who may not be familiar, Future’s style. You mentioned to me whether it’s rapping or singing, you know, it’s almost in between.
Russell: You can’t really put a nail on it. He can be trying to sing a song and he might sound horrible, but it sounds good. It sounds so bad that it sounds good. Or he might be rapping, slurring all his words, you know. You don’t understand him, but he’s riding with the beat so that sounds cool, so I’m like cool with what he’s saying. He finds ways to get it done at the end of the day.
Bentley: Someone described it as mumble rap.
Russell: Yeah, but if you don’t know what he’s saying, then you go look at the lyrics and say, ‘Okay, I see what he’s saying.’ But, he still sounds right throughout the song.
Bentley: Alright, let’s check it out. “Married to the Game” from Future, as selected by our Guest DJ, D’Angelo Russell.
Song: Future – *Married to the Game*
Bentley: Okay, next one up, number four. What do you have?
Russell: I got Rae Sremmurd, “Look Alive”, they’re kind of new too. This is on their last album.
Bentley: A lot of your picks are all new tracks. Do you really only listen to new music?
Russell: I look for it, especially music that is underground. You gotta go find it, they don’t get the exposure that they feel like they deserve, so you gotta find it. I like to find new music and throw it in my new playlist, I guess. I would say that J. Cole, the first one, is maybe the only old song that I really listen to. Rae Sremmurd is a group of guys, young guys that are on the come up. They have fun and really turn up and party and they really enjoy life. They’re young, so it’s like, they’re really enjoying it.
Bentley: What’s the story with the name? Which is hard to pronounce.
Russell: Rae Sremmurd, it’s actually two people. One’s (Khalif) ‘ Swae Lee’ (Brown) and the other one is (Aaquil) ‘Slim Jxmmi’ (Brown). But, their group name is Rae Sremmurd. They both have different styles, so they attract different fan bases, but when they are together, both of their fan bases come together as one and it’s a different crowd.
Bentley: So, you use the word new, a lot is new. This is a young team, this is notably the first post-Kobe (Bryant) season. Do you see that as a major challenge or as a major opportunity?
Russell: Both. Both. Kobe’s been around for the last 20 years, so that’s what the fans, that’s what people in the front office, what everyone’s used to. I don’t feel like it’s pressure on me, I feel like it’s pressure on everybody, you know, as far as keeping this franchise going. You know, he’s done a wonderful job and the people that have come before him. But, I feel we need to take on the challenge and make it happen.
Bentley: Well, let’s drop it. It’s “Look Alive” by Rae Sremmurd.
Song: Rae Sremmurd – *Look Alive*
Bentley: We are back with D’Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s our guest DJ this week, and your final pick sir?
Russell: We’ve got Travis Scott. I would say that he is one of the top five out there right now.
Bentley: What makes him in one of the top five?
Russell: His crowd, his fanbase is crazy, you know. And he’s doing that Kanye (West) type, on that wave right now, just really different, and really to his self, and people just love him for that. He’s another guy that’s versatile. He has music that wants you to feel
distance and then he has music that wants you to turn up and really get hyped. And this one, “Goosebumps”, it literally gives you goosebumps when you listen to it because you’re just like: ‘Alright, it’s time to turn up.’ I feel like it’s one of the songs that really got my attention.
Song: Travis Scott – *Goosebumps*
Bentley: When was the last time that you can think of that you got goosebumps?
Russell: I would say summer league of this year was the first time that I’ve had goosebumps in a while. It’s the first chance that the world gets to see how far you’ve come since last year.
Bentley: Well, D’Angelo, we wish you the absolute best in the season ahead. The stage is set for you to really emerge as a huge leader for the Los Angeles Lakers. So, best luck of the world, my friend and thank you for being a part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project.
Russell: I appreciate that. Thank you.