It can reach an audience that basketball can't reach on its own?
Lamar: Yeah, it's a force.
Paul: That's exactly right -- and something me and Kendrick talk about. I play basketball and I love what I do, but when I went to Kendrick's show and saw him on that stage, I was envious. I'm envious of the audience he's able to touch.
Lamar: These kids out here, yo, they're hanging on every word you say -- everything. That's why you have to be cautious about what you say. We could be playin' around, and I'll say, "Slap your mama," and a kid goes home and slaps his mama. It makes you realize hip-hop's power.
You both wield that power in a positive way. CP, you're a husband, father, union president. Kendrick, you've spoken out against everything from Molly to weed. How have you sidestepped the land mines in your fields?
Lamar: The negative influences, the drinking and smoking, you're around it every day. But that doesn't entice me. You do it, and you think it's cool because your boys are doing it, so you're a follower. I reached a point in my life where I wanted to be a leader. If this stuff don't entice me, why am I following you? Once I looked in the mirror and decided this is who I am, and I'm not scared of who I am, and I'm not scared that I can't be like you, and I'm good with just doing me, that's when I found myself, as a man.
Paul: Family was real important in putting me on my path. I'm so blessed to come from a home with a mother and a father. What I do for a living, a lot of people didn't have that. And like Kendrick's saying, I learned not to give in to peer pressure. You think those people are your friends, but I think they see it as a weakness. If you don't give in that first time, that second time, not only will they leave you alone, but they'll realize how strong you are. You know, I'm a little brother. I've always been small.(5) People have said I have a Napoleon complex. But I've always had to fight for everything that I have.
Lamar: That's what makes the relationship between sports and music so cool. At the end of the day, what's most important is that these two kids who kept on grinding super hard are coming together. And that shows the next little kid in the neighborhood, if Chris and Kendrick can do it, I can do it.
Paul: That's the other side of the business relationship: Genuine friendship has to be there too. I mean, my brother is my ace, my wife is my wife, but some of the things I go through, they can't understand. That's where this relationship with Kendrick initially comes from -- you see somebody just like you who overcame hard times and strives to be the greatest in their field.
Back in the day, the relationship between music and sports was one-sided: Musicians mostly stayed in their lane, while athletes got into the music biz, as MCs or heads of labels. You know the names: Shaq, Deion -- and suddenly dozens of ballers were recording music.
Lamar: And I'm still waiting for that Allen Iverson album.(6)
Rumor is, Commissioner Stern wasn't having it.
Lamar: No, he definitely wasn't.