I do not just "spit." To me, rapping is an art. I express myself through song when I can't let people in on my thoughts otherwise. I need the creative process.
Rapping has always been my escape from the floor. I don't have the attention span to play a video game for hours anymore—I'm on the damn game. And that's why I can't respect half the opinions telling me to stop rapping on Twitter: “@imanshumpert work on your damn jump shot, you made me lose in 2K!” Fact is, the criticism is never to my face; it's only through social media.
Without expressing myself or attaching my mind to hooping and rapping, I find myself with an attitude most of the time. I become violent without them.
In the studio, I can wild out and it comes out sounding so good that people feel like "maybe I'm crazy too." Then on the court, I can just be me and not look crazy.
The NBA actually encourages balanced living. Realistically, basketball only takes up about six hours of your day before it becomes counterproductive. At this level, overworking yourself is detrimental to your growth. I've been kicked out of the gym several time by coaches for "overworking" myself.
Rap isn't that time-consuming for me, compared to an ordinary artist. I do not stay in the studio all day. I write a song in my down time and go in to record it, most times only taking a couple hours to record two or three songs. My DJ's studio (@mjthedj), Studio 14, is right around the corner from my home in Cleveland, so it doesn't take long to knock out a track.
I've been rapping my whole career. I have hundreds and hundreds of songs, but no one would know unless I release them. Sad thing is, if I were to be a violinist, I would be more "respected" and "praised" for my "talent" off the floor. The flip side is being a violinist takes hours and hours and hours of preparation to become anywhere near good. It's not something you can do during the course of a basketball season.
Hip-hop's influence is unbelievably strong, and it gives you the power to inspire and control your message. It's a threat our society doesn't want me to carry.
For some reason, fans want me to be one-dimensional. Maybe being successful in two fields when most can't accomplish one makes people feel threatened.
It's good to know that my teammates rather enjoy my music. They can't wait for me to make the crossover and do a record alongside a mainstream artist so they can hear a verse from the "hooper" perspective. But people will continue to hide behind computers, criticizing, instead of being successful their own damn selves.
I've always been the “conflict” child. I have to prove to my critics their opinion is irrelevant, and show them the Shumpman is going to continue to tell his story.
Follow Iman Shumpert on Twitter at @ImanShumpert. Shumpert will be releasing his new EP in advance of his new “Home Grown” project, and check out the new music video for his latest single “Promised” here.