After leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-114 win against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis Thursday night, star forward LeBron James sat down with media where he shared his thoughts on friend and rapper Kendrick Lamar's new album Damn. Lamar reportedly sent the Cleveland forward an advance copy of the album before its release last Friday, and James has been posting videos to his social media ever since showing himself dancing to several new tracks.
"The guy is an unbelievable talent. His wordplay and his lyrics is [sic] unbelievable. And it hit home for me at times, because I was a kid who grew up in the inner city. So that's why I'm able to relate to a lot of his lyrics and relate to a lot of his stories. He's an unbelievable artist and an unbelievable person. I'm glad he's able to put those words onto a track for all of us to be able to hear. For me, I definitely appreciate it."James has opened up in the past about his rough childhood in inner city Akron, Ohio. James' mother, Gloria, had him when she was just 16 years old, and he never knew his father. After the death of his grandmother and great-grandmother, James and his mom found themselves moving from apartment to apartment and relying on food stamps to get by. At the age of nine, with no stable living arrangement, the star forward was missing large amounts of school, choosing to remain at home playing video games. It was the decision to move in with an Akron sports coach at the age of nine, who introduced him to the game that would turn his life around.James has said in the past that there are only two options available to black kids growing up in the inner city: sell drugs or play basketball.
"That's it. There's no out. You become a statistic. As an African-American kid growing up in the inner city, they don't believe that you can get out and become something."James has used his position to improve the outlook for Akron youth, pledging through his charity, the "I Promise" Program to provide full college scholarships for 1,100 kids at the University of Akron. Valued at over $40 million, the program aims to increase the options available to inner city youth.
Lamar is also no stranger to struggle, using his upbringing in Compton, California in a family reliant on welfare and subsidized housing as material in his music. After releasing his first mix tape at the age of 16 under the name K-Dot, Lamar has skyrocketed in popularity, with Damn, his fourth major album expected to do record sales. Following massive sales and downloads in the days following its' release, Damn is poised to take the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart. Currently sitting at 550,000 album units, the album is set to be the most successful release of 2017.
After performing the new album immediately after it's release at Coachella in Indio, California last weekend, rumors continued to circulate that Lamar would follow Damn with a secondary album titled Nation which would include a number of tracks that wouldn't fit on the first record. Despite disappointment among fans at the lack of a follow-up album, positive reviews for the album and the rapper's Coachella performance continue to roll in. Performing songs from Damn, as well as previous albums To Pimp a Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d city, Lamar incorporated guests appearances from Future, Travis Scott and Schoolboy Q in his Sunday closing set. In the face of ongoing and mounting success, it is the continued humility of both James and Lamar that has fans the world over turning out to support the pair in droves.
[Featured Image by Darren Abate/AP Images]