Dee Brown's European Hip Hop Career
With Gilbert Arenas on the shelf, some of us are looking to new blogging Wiz guard Dee Brown to help replace not just Gilbert's minutes on the court, but also his copy-producing zest off it.
And so it was pleasing to learn that, during his recent stint playing basketball abroad, Brown often performed hip-hop. In European clubs. Like, in this one joint in Istanbul. Called Vanilla.
"I mean, race don't matter in this world, music is music," Brown said of his performances. "I'd go to the dude, 'I play ball, what's happening, here's my CD.' They'd listen to the music, the music is undeniably good....So you do the music and get love and provide that energy, because that's what I do. Easy work."
Growing up, he said, he always wanted to play an instrument, but never learned how. He always wanted to try poetry, but even though he goes to readings, he "really couldn't put my talent out there" until he starting recording hip-hop tracks. I asked whether he might consider playing out in D.C.
"If we start winning, yeah, I'll come out with it," he said. "When we start losing, you know, it's another added excuse: 'Why this, why that?' That's why it's a hobby."
Believe me, I know. As you might recall, Washington has a spotty recent history with ex-Illinois athletes who explore their musical interests in their down time, but while Brown knows and has heard Brandon Lloyd's music, he has no patience for critics who might belittle music as a distraction.
"I tell people like this, I was in Turkey, I was playing bad, right?" he said the other day. "I was doing my music, thinking about my CD, and they were like, 'Aw dude you need to be in the gym instead of the studio.' I was like, "[Shoot], I do like six hours in the gym every day.'
"You don't know who play golf, do you? They have a bad game, they go golfing. I know dudes who [at practice were] like, 'Man, I'm gonna almost miss my tee time.' So what's the difference? I can put a mic right here and do my music, you know what I'm saying? And most of the music is coming from stress, coming from pain, coming from experience, so I can be talking about why am I having a bad week, why am I not shooting well....Music is so stress-free, it don't take nothing but talking, and I talk all day."
For that reason, the local media crew has already taken to Brown. Ask him, for example, why he headed to Europe; "there's money everywhere," he said. "If you feel like you're a great reporter and Ukraine wants you to go over there and write for them and they offer you a big contract, you're gonna be like, 'Wow, that's what I think my writing costs, that's what I think my skill is.' "
(Of course, if I took the cash and went to blog in Ukraine, I have no doubt that the general manager of FC Shakhtar Donetsk would immediately launch a radio program, "Inside the Chervonyy Zone.")
Or ask Brown about his favorite food in Turkey; "McDonald's was the best thing ever," he said. "The Order No. 1, you see the people make it," he continued, making sizzling hamburger sounds, "because no one was going there. You got a fresh burger, fresh fries and a nice beverage. Here your burger probably sits two or three minutes, you get it and it's probably still good, but it ain't fresh."
But back to the music. He said club-goers would often bop their heads to his rhymes, although in general the Turkish kids went for faster beats. His songs don't shy away from basketball or optimism. One lyric he quoted to reporters went like this: "Hoop is my dream, hoop is my passion. I love my job and I love this sport." The album is called "Unwritten," and some of his new teammates have already heard cuts. Their response?
"The positive rap?" asked Caron Butler with a big smile on his face. "The League," "The School," all that? Yeah, I heard it. Stick to basketball, man."
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