James Harden Credit: Bill Moore photo

NBA Superstar, Brooklyn Net guard James Harden, is on the cusp of grabbing the brass ring. That one achievement that he has yet to grasp on the court. All the ingredients are in place for him, as he not only has a top to bottom talented roster, two of his teammates are amongst the 15 best players in the league. If everything falls into place, the NBA World Championship will be the first in the history of the franchise and will have been something that NYC has not experienced since the 1973 New York Knicks. Ahh, that New York thing. Status as an A List celebrity because of being a star athlete is one thing, but couple that with the word CHAMPION in New York, the WORLD opens. You, your brand and pretty much anything you’re associated with will ride that wave. Imagine however if you have a project that is just as potent. For Harden, that’s a fact. As an ardent fan of Rap music, Harden is aware of what the streets, the clubs and the industry are tuned into. So, he was able to engineer a dream team project of his own with the pairing of Lil Baby and Lil Durk for a collaborative album. To understand the magnitude of this project being released at this time, rewind to the year 2020. Both had breakthrough years, respectively, with Baby’s “My Turn” (QC/Motown/Capitol) crowned the best-selling album of 2020 perched for five weeks at No. 1 and a single released that wasn’t included on the album, “The Bigger Picture,” became a social justice anthem for those who were in the streets to protest the death of George Floyd. As the BET Best New Artist Award winner in 2019, Lil Baby added the BET Hip Hop Awards’ Impact Award in 2020, and the iHeartRadio Music Award for Best Hip Hop Album of the Year in 2021 to his trophy case. As for Durk, his album. “Just Cause Y’all Waited” (Alamo/Geffen/Interscope), ascended to No. 2 on Billboard with the deluxe add-on in July 2020. He followed up that performance with a feature on Drake’s Grammy-nominated smash, “Laugh Now Cray Later,” and ended the year with a surprise mixtape, The Voice, which peaked at No. 3.

Dubbed, “The Voice of the Heroes” Harden, who serves as the album’s executive producer said of the album, “From the beginning, I’ve had a passion for basketball, and music has always went hand and hand with it,” Harden shares. “It drives me on the daily to continue to be the best at what I do, to always strive for more. I see that same passion in Lil Baby & Lil Durk.” He continued, “The initial idea was to get the two together to make a few songs. But with their work ethic and undeniable talent here we are,” he said. “From late nights in my studio in Houston, the two of them being by my side as I transitioned from Houston to New York it was truly an honor to watch them in their element. Countless hours in the studio watching them create was an absolute privilege to say the least.”

Right now, would be the perfect opportunity to wrap a bow on the story, but life is a series of checks and balances. See the album charted at the No. 1 position the day that the Nets were to begin the second round of their playoff run. Seconds into the game, Harden was lost due to a hamstring injury. As of press time, no word if he’ll be back for the rest of the post season. For Lil Durk, an ultimate loss occurred. On the heels of his latest success, Durk’s 32-year-old brother Dante Banks Jr., professionally known as DThang, was shot and killed outside of a Chicago area strip club in the early morning hours of June 6.

Proper perspective is needed and given. Hurt is REAL! Pain is REAL!! DAMN.

Over and out, holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.