Aaron Gordon Using Quarantine to Build Rap Career

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon is making the most out of his time off to explore his musical ambitions.
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Aaron Gordon seems to be making the most of his time off from the NBA.

The Magic forward and dunk contest best man (never the groom) released his first rap single earlier this month. The song, Pull Up, features Moe and has Gordon throwing down one fairly entertaining verse. (“80 m’s in the bag, that’s a bargain,” Gordon raps about his Orlando contract.) The accompanying music video has the two artists goofing around on golf carts, with Gordon rocking his jersey from Uncle Drew as well as a Hawks Vince Carter vintage.

“I’ve been tapping into my creative side,” Gordon told Sports Illustrated about what he’s been up to since NBA play was suspended. “I’ve really been able to sit down and spend time with my inner artist. It’s been really fun.”

According to Gordon, his first song is more of a tease of what’s to come, and his hope is to have a project done by September, if the pandemic allows. The budding artist also plans to collaborate with several other athletes-turned-rappers on a mixtape called Born Winner. Earlier this month, SI caught up with Gordon to discuss his new song, his future in music, and more.

Rohan Nadkarni: Is rapping something you’ve always wanted to do?

Aaron Gordon: I’ve always had an affinity for words and poetry. MCs are just kind of modern-day philosophers and modern-day poets. It’s just fun. It’s a great way to express myself. It’s like therapy, being able to see and psychoanalyze myself from different perspectives and put it into a catchy tune. The poetry is where it started from.

RN: Is it easy for someone like you to produce a song? Or do even you have to jump through a lot of hoops?

AG: I got some of the best people in my corner, man. We have a great team at Level Up Music. Ayo, Austin Owens, a Grammy-award winning producer, he has like a couple of viral songs going on right now. We don’t let each other lose, we’re looking out for each other. We got in the studio, we did that song in about 45 minutes. Ayo cooked the beat up from scratch, Moe laid down the chorus, and then I laid down my verse.

RN: I think many people, whether they admit it or not, want to be in a music video at some point in their lives. Is it as fun as it seems?

AG: It was a lot of fun. That was the first one I’d ever really been around. You could tell we were having fun in the video, smiling a lot. That’s kind of like my characteristic, I just smile. It was a lot of fun though, man. It helps me tap into my directing side as well. The videos are going to be getting more and more extravagant, more creative, but still keep that same level of fun.

RN: Did your teammates like the song? Or did they clown you for it?

AG: The NBA, these are some of the realest dudes I’ve been around. So they’re going to tell you if it’s terrible. And they liked it, man. They were expecting it to be trash but it was good. I’ll get in the studio with a couple of them eventually. Like Wes Iwundu and Markelle Fultz, we’ll all be in the studio together.

RN: Maybe you don’t have everything planned out, but where do you want to take your music career? Is this something where you really want to make a name for yourself? Where do you want to take this?

AG: Oh, of course. I want to be recognized by the best, be up there with the best, and validate myself. I’m going to continue to work at it. I got a great team around me, a great supporting cast around me to give me the opportunity to pursue these goals.

And then ultimately, just create a platform for other people to express themselves creatively, through song, dance, art. Be able to establish maybe a studio, turn into a place for kids who wouldn’t necessarily have the chance to get studio hours, have the chance to make a multimillion-dollar hit. It’s a place where they can come and express themselves, kind of escape reality or help them embrace reality.

RN: Do you have a dream collaborator right now?

AG: Oh for sure, it’s the dude I jumped over in the dunk contest, Chance the Rapper. If I could get him on a record, that would be amazing. But I want it to be off of skill, you know what I mean? I want him to hear the rap and want to do it because of that, not just a favor. Either way it would be cool, but I just want that recognition and validation. I got a long way to go.

RN: Fans sometimes get caught up almost entirely in what you can do for them on the court. How important is it to you to show people this other side of you?

AG: At some point in time, everybody is going to see pretty much all of me. I’m going to give everybody my all. And that’s what it’s about. It’s for the fans, it’s for putting smiles on people’s faces. It’s about uplifting and elevating the consciousness of overall society, overall world. It’s important to let people know I have a lot of different talents. Basketball has carried me really well, it’s my first love, but it’s not my only love. There’s more to me than just a ball player.