Lakers forward Ron Artest
shares his surprising pre-game soundtrack – soulful songs about love – and more in his Guest DJ set. He tells us how music united his family and how Mobb Deep inspired him to make it in basketball to avoid life in the streets. See a softer side of the pro athlete.
For more: http://www.ronartest.com
1 - My Life - Mary J. Blige
Jason Bentley: This is Jason Bentley from KCRW and wearing number 15 at small forward -- although I have to tell you there's nothing small about this man -- NBA Champion in the 2010 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Ron Artest is our Guest DJ. What's up Ron?
Ron Artest: Yes, yes, real good. Moving smooth today. L.A.
JB: Alright, let's just set it off with -- this is a good one -- it's a track from Mary J. Blige.
JB: "My Life". Tell us about this and why you chose this one.
RA: You know, growing up, my sister got me into R&B music. I was, at first, into old school from my mom; that's all we used to hear in the morning, Sunday mornings. But I got through a lot of tough times with Mary J. Blige -- days when you're not eating, days when you're depressed or frustrated, days when you need that pick-me-up, when you want to feel good about yourself. Mary J. Blige did that for me.
Song: Mary J. Blige - "My Life"
RA: I like "My Life" because it kind of sums up the feeling and emotion with the lyrics. And she's trying to take you through a journey and she's trying to let you see what she sees. It's just -- I want you to get to know me. I want you to get to know me and I want you to see exactly what I see and feel how I feel.
JB: That was Mary J. Blige with "My Life" as chosen by our Guest DJ today, it's Ron Artest from the Los Angeles Lakers. Next up is what I think is another feel-good song…
JB: …and it's from the O'Jays. Tell us about this one.
RA: Yeah, O'Jays; another feel-good group. That's my mom and me, growing up, Sunday mornings -- church, breakfast and blasting loud oldies.
It's like a lot of love involved in it, you know, talking to a female. I think it's real important. Those songs, they don't make those no more, because now they make songs, they refer to a female as a "B" or as a "chick" or as a "ho". Some of the songs today are okay, but for the most part, it's not "a girl I love" -- and that's what you get when you listen to O'Jays.
JB: It sounds like music was something that really kept your family tight when you were young.
RA: Yeah, it did…it definitely did. Even though we had a lot of ups and downs and some separation, but for the most part, music did keep us together. And we could listen to some music and it would click and something was triggered, like, ‘oh, you remember those days when we were in the park’ or whatever. Yeah, it was good.
Song: O'Jays - "Forever Mine"
JB: Ron, do you consider yourself a romantic?
RA: No, I'm definitely not romantic. That's the bad thing -- I don't try, actually. You know what, I've been with my wife for 17 years. And the girlfriend I had right before her, when I was 12, kind of broke my heart. I never actually kissed this girl, I had this girl and I never kissed her, so I broke up with her when I was 12 and then I met my wife when I was 14, so I never really gave myself to anybody 100% -- not even my wife.
JB: The romance was over at 12.
RA: It was over at 13. Never again. I'm a man. I can't feel that way no more.
JB: Ron Artest is our Guest DJ on KCRW. Okay, so next up, we have a song -- I'm not familiar with this one, so you'll have to tell us. This is called "How Long Sweet Daddy" by Alberta Hunter.
RA: Oh yeah, Alberta Hunter.
She started doing music back in the 1890's. This song is actually from about 1920. "How Long Sweet Daddy" is great, it's a good song. It's talking about how long she's had to wait for him to come home.
This song is straight from a woman's perspective and this song, actually, could apply to a lot of females today; because the songs on the radio today are totally the opposite -- or matter of fact -- it kind of sums up what she's talking about…the lack of respect for women these days. And that's why I love it. I listen to that song before my games, actually. That song keeps me centered, so before every game, I listen to Alberta Hunter.
JB: I think as sports fans, we're always curious what you guys are listening to in your headphones, but now we know.
Song: Alberta Hunter - "How Long Sweet Daddy, How Long"
JB: Ron Artest, our Guest DJ on KCRW. Next up we have a song -- this is a song by Lenny Williams.
AR: Yes, Lenny Williams
JB: And it's called "Cause I Love You". Tell us why you chose this one.
AR: It don't get no more passionate about a female than that song. You know, he summed it up, to me. He took you through this journey in that song and he's talking to the girl like he's taking her on a date and then right before they get to the good part, he like, spills his guts.
He’s got a point in the song where he just takes it to the limit; you know, vocally, emotionally, the passion was there and that's one song I can listen to back-to-back. And even sometimes before I get to the end of the song I rewind it, just to get that feeling because I might be thinking about a game or I might be thinking about what album we're putting out next and I'll be like, man I forgot to get the full effect of the song, so I gotta rewind the song.
Song: Lenny Williams - "Cause I Love You"
JB: It's interesting because it seems like your music selections are, in a way, how you connect to women in your life; you know -- your mother or your sister.
JB: …or you know, romantic interests and it's interesting because, as a pro athlete, you're masculine -- you're a guy's guy -- but music kinda helps you connect with the ladies in your life.
RA: Yeah. You know, basketball is so important to me and the music that I choose, it really has an effect on me on the court, so I gotta choose music that's gonna keep me centered and that's me. It's just me, so what fits me best. These are the main songs that I feel most good listening to before I hit that court.
JB: Well, we got one more and that's from Mobb Deep. It's called "Survival Of The Fittest"
RA: Yes, yes.
JB: What's up with this one?
RA: This is a special one. Just to see them grow up, or them seeing me grow up…
JB: Oh, you know these guys?
RA: I know them. And they were one of the trendsetters of this "reality music." It wasn't as gangsta as N.W.A
JB: It's still hardcore, though.
RA: It was still hardcore and they're like legends right in front of your eyes, to hip-hop. My cousin lived right next door to Havoc. Havoc was the producer, Prodigy was the rapper, but they both rapped. Havoc did all the beats. He had a brother named Killa B. His brother shot himself in the head right across the hall from my auntie's door. And then my auntie, her sons, which are my cousins they were all -- everybody's selling drugs and Havoc is in there making beats, making beats. So they came out with this song and everybody around New York loves it.
Song: Mobb Deep - "Survival Of The Fittest"
RA: I was young and I'm like, ‘wow I don't want to be in the streets, I don't want to be doing what my cousins is doing, I want to make it in basketball’, but these guys inspired me to keep pushing, to be positive, to make it in basketball. To this day, when you put "Survival Of The Fittest" on in the club, people remember that sound. They remember what it was back in the '90s. But I can't listen to this before a game…because I might get a technical foul or something.
(Jason and Ron laugh)
JB: It's too much
RA: I can't listen to rap before a game because I get too emotional, too passionate and it takes my whole spiritual mindset -- it's all messed up. So I listen to these other types of music and it keeps me focused on the game. I learned that by myself -- late. (laughs)
JB: Ron Artest, our Guest DJ, thank you so much for coming down to KCRW, man.
RA: Yes, thanks for having me.
JB: Appreciate it. For a complete tracklisting and to find these songs online, all you have to do, is go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject.