Me x Kobe Bryant x Dear Basketball


Kobe Bryant | shot by Ian Morrison for Flaunt


Whenever I interview someone who’s incredibly well known and popular, my goal is an obvious one: Find something new out. Most people know this person’s general life story and highlights.

So my question for you—after you read this interview I had with Kobe Bryant for Flaunt Magazine—is did you learn anything new about him? I think I dug out about–hmmm–three intriguing nuggets. Each third of the story has one.

Talking to Kobe and Disney animation legend Glen Keane (he drew Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast!) about their Oscar-winning short Dear Basketball was a treat. I’m a huge Kobe fan. Players who entered the NBA in the mid-‘90s were the ones I watched bloom into stars and Kobe was my favorite. The skill, the passion, the talent, the Hip-Hop meets Air Jordan 2.0 vibes… He was dope. So much so that I wouldn’t play as anyone but the Lakers on NBA Live or 2K from about 1997 to maybe 2010 or so when I stopped being a consistent gamer.

It was difficult to keep my cool, but thankfully I don’t think they could tell. The interview  went well and writing the piece was a breeze. We rapped about Michael Jackson, storytelling, discovering your life’s purpose as a youth and more. Give it a read.


A story about the photo shoot for this Flaunt piece:

During the photo shoot for this interview, I was talking to his Dear Basketball publicist  about one of my goals for the new year. We were just days into 2018 and knowing that I closed ’17 eating wild and glorious amounts of food and sweet treats, my goal was to lose 15 pounds in January. Kobe overheard me. About 10 minutes later, he walked over and looked me up and down—sneakers to the longest strand of hair on my head.

“You’re trying to lose weight?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said. I told him that I’d looked up Dwyane Wade’s weight (we’re about the same height), saw that he’s 220-ish and thought I could get there with some discipline. Kobe asked how I was feeling so far. Cutting back on eating garbage is pretty easy, I explained. But the 4-5 gym workouts a week that I had picked up were making me sore and tired as hell.

A smirk crept onto his face as his shoulders shrugged, like a two-piece combo of indifference and hilarity just presented itself. “Your body will get used to it,” he said through a light chuckle. “Yeah,” I responded. “True.” We shook hands. He left. On my way home, I too laughed. That was such a Kobe response.

Kobe probably never complained about the temporary pain he endured during the thousands of hours he’d spent training in gyms, running on tracks and recovering from numerous injuries. He knew it was part of the process. A little work and pain now, a trophy later. That’s a fair exchange. I took it all in while sitting in the back of my Lyft headed home, grinning ear to ear. “Kobe didn’t give a fuck about my gym pain because he’s a bad-ass and bad-asses aren’t trying to hear that shit,” I thought. “That’s why I love that dude.” Then I snapped out of it. Haha, what a nerd I am sometimes.

By the way, I lost that 15 pounds. Again, go read my Kobe story.



Can We Give Two Thumbs Up for This One Man of the Woods Track?


Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods album cover


The reviews are in on Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods and—whew!—they’re rough. Some are saying Justin, who once was on the pulse of what was sonically new and exciting, has lost a step on his fourth album. Others say it either lacks direction or its moving in an unappealing one. A few more think they were led astray, being sold a deeply personal album and instead getting something with less depth than a puddle. But I think there’s one track we can all agree on being unquestionably good: “Montana” is a pure jam.

Track 12 might be the best moment on Timberlake’s Man of the Woods album. It’s sexy, kind of dangerous. Over a galloping bassline, there’s a sleek Daft Punk-ish future disco feel with a hint of the Knight Rider intro courtesy of resurrected production duo The Neptunes swirled with Bee Gees ‘70s-smooth delivery. There’s also this gentle guitar strum that comes in every five seconds, which makes it old Western gorgeous. I imagine this playing during a scene in Tom Ford film that doesn’t exist, where a grizzled Ryan Gosling skirts off down an empty desert road in a vintage car into a burnt orange sun setting in the lavender sky—escaping a doomed world with a bronze vixen riding shotgun.

“Montana” makes me want to learn about the Northwestern state of Montana. Justin’s making it sound so fly that it’s made it on to my mental Places To Visit with Wifey list. I’ve got to figure out what secret he and John Mayer (who retreated there years ago to repair himself) know about its glory.

In some fantasy world where I help Timberlake make this album, “Montana” is the centerpiece of this MOTW concept record. The plot: A couple madly in love is exhausted with the hectic, troubled metropolis they reside in. When the two have their first child, Silas (whose name means to “Man of the Woods”), they decide—after years of fetishizing the idea of leaving it all behind—to actually make the shift to a snowy haven. Of all places, Montana is the mission. And there, ladies and gents, is my stab at fan fiction.

There’s another convo I want to have with y’all some day about the time I decided spending energy on overwhelmingly negative critiques of art is not for me and when I arrived at the intersection of It’s Wack Being Mean St. & What’s the Point? BLVD. That week was a doozy. My overall feeling nowadays is that if an artist makes something and is pleased with their product, I’m only damning it if it truly causes harm to its audience. But gone of the days of me dedicating 500 words to things I simply don’t like. This album from Justin, admittedly, is my least favorite offering from him. But even then, there’s still a goodie that I’m giving a shout out to from it.

Anyway, agree that “Montana” is flames? Think any other MOTW tracks will become hits or have moments in the sun once the pile-on is over? Time will tell.



Tyler Finally Had a Flower Boy Talk

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For about three collective months last year, I was in talks with Tyler, the Creator’s publicity team, wondering why he hadn’t any substantial press to promote his latest album, Flower Boy. For those that have heard it (and maybe love it as much as I do), it kind of begs for an interview with its star.

Is he depressed? Does Tyler need a hug and a girlfriend? I really wanted to talk about how he made sadness and unnerving pensiveness sound so colorful. I danced like crazy to “911 / Mr. Lonely” when he performed it at Camp Flog Gnaw in the fall.

Though his team appreciated my intrigue and the various ideas (video treatments for a documentary short, blends of illustrations and photography for artwork…), they kindly always passed. Apparently, T wanted to let the music speak for itself and opted not to go through traditional media to talk about it. Fair enough.

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All of that is to say I was pleasantly surprised when this interview between Tyler and comedian Jerrod Carmichael popped up today. Clearly they’re buds. It’s an hour’s worth of free-flowing convo about just about everything I wanted to talk about. The pair nerds out on Stevie Wonder and Musiq, the creative process of Flower Boy and more. Plus, it looks good. A simple dusty field backdrop and tight camera zooms made for quality visuals. Pretty dope. I’ll catch Tyler another time. Enjoy this in the meantime.