Stay tapped in with Our Generation Music.

Damian Lillard, RexxLifeRaj speak on The Bay in ‘Hometown Heroes, Ep. 1’

Bridging the gap between sports and music, our new Our Generation Sports interview series “Hometown Heroes” sees an artist and athlete from the same hometown speak on their roots, inspirations and passions on the field/court and in the booth.

Sports and music are two sides of the same coin. Artists want to be the athletes, and athletes want to be artists. But amid the blurred lines between bumping pregame playlists and splurging on courtside seats, the intersection of music and sports is undeniable — ringing all too true for Portland Blazers star shooter Damian Lillard and Berkeley-bred rapper RexxLifeRaj.

Lillard, who raps under the name Dame D.O.L.L.A., is notorious for his insurmountable success in the National Basketball Association. As one of the brightest stars of this generation’s NBA, Lillard’s love for music runs deep, putting out a handful of full-length projects over the course of his career on the court. His fifth studio album, Don D.O.L.L.A. (which dropped on Aug. 18), sees the Oakland native at his most creatively poised and sonically polished, recruiting the likes of Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Ty Dolla $ign, Mozzy, Jordin Sparks and more.

As natives of the Bay Area, both Lillard and RexxLifeRaj, who is also featured on the album’s title track “Don D.O.L.L.A.”, speak on their roots in Oakland and Berkeley, California. Not only are the two great friends, but close collaborators as Raj admits the pair have “damn near an album” together tucked away in the vault. Raj, who played Division I football at Boise State, felt the same sort of buffer between sports and music in college, ultimately finding himself and his purpose through the sonic inspirations of the Bay, much like Dame. California Poppy is an ode to his home, revealing that its third iteration is due out sometime soon.

On the court, Lillard is an all-star shooter and future first ballot hall-of-famer, but achieving the same level of praise and appreciation as a rapper is more hard-pressed to come by, says Raj. “It’s all subjective, but that’s the beauty behind it,” he explained in this Our Generation exclusive. “As an athlete, you can look at stats and see your play to determine whether or not you got it or not. With music, it’s much more difficult.”

Whilst battling imposter syndrome and a fight for credibility, Dame says he “used to get frustrated” when people weren’t willing to recognize him as a rapper. However, he admits that he never cared all too much, as co-signs from Lil Wayne, J. Cole and Common ultimately outweighed any criticism he received from fans only apt to his talents on the hardwood.

“As an artist, I wanted to get to the point where people look at me like Donald Glover and Childish Gambino,” Dame says. “It’s not the same person, that’s how [people] talk about him. I don’t think it’s more challenging [to achieve in music] because I’m an athlete, but it’s more challenging because of the level of athlete I am. Because I’ve reached this level of notoriety and acknowledgement as an athlete, I think people are just hesitant [to my music]. They’d be like, ‘He don’t need this credit, we don’t got to pay attention to it,’ but this is my art.”

The Bay holds a special place in their hearts, as Raj and Dame discuss their favorite food spots, undoubted Bay Area anthems, what their hometown means to them among other interesting conversation points. Reflecting on their journeys as artist-athletes in their own respects, our newest OGM host Milaan sat down with Damian Lillard and RexxLifeRaj in our first-ever episode of “Hometown Heroes.”

Watch “Hometown Heroes, Ep. 1” below!