By: Josh Chidiac (Contributor: Nick Chidiac) / November 1st, 2016
On his first studio project, The Letter O, this NBA superhero reveals his poetic alter ego, Dame D.O.L.L.A., showing a surprisingly polished lyrical edge with inspiring tales of humble beginnings before basketball stardom and the paycheck that came with it.
Portland Trail Blazers’ point guard, Damian Lillard is somewhat of a jack of all trades with respect to the double life that he seems to be living. By day he’s a two-time NBA all-star with game-winning shots, playoff appearances, and a Rookie of the Year award under his belt, but, by night, he’s Dame D.O.L.L.A., a legitimate rookie rapper from Oakland. Now I’ll admit that I was pretty skeptical before I listened to this record because, in the past, athletes have repeatedly flopped in their attempts to be musicians. I give you Shaq, Ron Artest, Deion Sanders, Oscar de la Hoya, and Carl Lewis, just to name a few. Contrary to this tendency, however, D.O.L.L.A. actually has the necessary skills to be a talented rapper. His ability to tell stories is extremely impressive, and staying on tempo with the beat doesn’t seem to a problem for him either, creating a pretty nice flow.
His story telling really seems to be Lillard’s bread and butter on The Letter O. Presenting realistic tales of growing up in the hood, each song is representative of a lesson that he needed to learn in order to survive, and ultimately thrive on his way to becoming one of the most recognized names in sports today. Between this uplifting nature and the absence of the foul language and sexual innuendos that are prominent in the modern hip hop landscape, it is apparent that Dame D.O.L.L.A. has put a lot of consideration into the malleability of his potential audience, and the content of his influence. Even with features like the notorious potty mouth, Lil Wayne, D.O.L.L.A. still manages to keep this record clean, respectably portraying the type of positive role model that has a constructive effect on anyone that can relate to his modest beginnings.
All and all, this is a pretty decent album considering it’s the first recording from an unlikely source. D.O.L.L.A.’s tales of triumph through even the worst of times gives The Letter O a very optimistic vibe, and the production quality is pristine, making for an interesting project, which thankfully lacks the misfires and unoriginality that usually come with an athlete’s attempt to make music. The end result is one that’s comparable in nature to someone like J. Cole, who has always been a great storyteller, and has used that ability to earn mention among the most talented artists around. So now the question becomes one of Dame D.O.L.L.A.’s ceiling. Can he reach the same heights as a J. Cole while simultaneously taking the NBA by storm? Can he take the Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA finals without his music career becoming a distraction? I guess we’ll all just have to stay tuned to see for ourselves.