One may know Ron Artest as the talented forward for the Sacramento Kings – the man with mad skills on the court. The man on the 2005-06 NBA’s All-Defensive Team. The man voted 2003-04 NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. The only man with 271 steals in his first two seasons in the NBA, breaking Michael Jordan’s record. But there is more to Ron than the game.
Ron Artest was born in Queens, New York and grew up in the hard-knocks of Queensbridge Houses, a complex of six-story buildings north of the 59th Street Bridge. As New York City’s oldest public housing, the complex was home to some gang and drug activity, but Ron never let the life of struggle hold him down. It only encouraged him to succeed.
At the age of 13 Ron became obsessed with the game of basketball and spent endless nights on the court working on his game and sharpening his skills. Ron eventually went on to play ball in high school and was nicknamed ‘True Warrior’ because of his skills on the court. In his senior year of high school, Ron led his team to a 27-0 record and was New York City’s Co-Player of the Year. Ron’s success also earned him a position on the St. John’s basketball team, and eventually as a forward on the Indiana Pacers.
Growing up in Queensbridge, Ron surrounded himself with two things: Basketball and Rap Music. Now that he has conquered the game, Ron has expanded his horizons by starting his own label, Tru Warier Records. Ron’s music has been taking many by surprise – fans and critics alike – and all are discovering that Ron is actually a talented and creative rapper. He opened for Young Geezy at several shows in May and June, and in July/early August opened for Fat Joe on several dates in Europe, to extremely supportive crowds and excited fans. Ron also performed during the pre-event festivities as part of New York City’s HOT 97 Summer Jam in June.
So what’s new with you?
Ron Artest: THE SHOOT IN VEGAS WHICH WE JUST FINISHED, GETTING READY FOR THE SEASON, AND I HAVE MY ALBUM COMING OUT ON HALLOWEEN. PRETTY MUCH, I’M JUST ENJOYING EVERYTHING I HAVE GOING ON RIGHT NOW, DOING MY THING. I’M VERY GRATEFUL FOR EVERYTHING I HAVE IN MY LIFE.
How was the European tour with Fat JOE? Give us some details? Was the audience a different rush than what you’re used to on the courts?
Ron Artest: THE TOUR WENT GOOD WITH FAT JOE, HE’S REALLY GOT A LOT OF ENERGY, AND IT WAS GREAT TO SEE HOW MUCH ENERGY HE PUT INTO THE CROWDS. THE CROWDS REALLY RESPONDED WELL TO ME AND MY PERFORMANCES, A LOT OF THEM ARE PRETTY MUCH FAMILIAR WITH UNITED STATES BASKETBALL SO SOME PEOPLE KNEW WHO I WAS. NOT EVERY ONE KNEW WHO I WAS, BUT OVERALL THEY SEEMED TO RESPOND REALLY WELL TO MY PERFORMANCE, SO THAT WAS INSPIRING.
What made you decide to get into music? Has it always been a passion of yours?
Ron Artest: I LOVE MUSIC, IT’S ALWAYS BEEN A PASSION OF MINE. AND IT’S DEFINITELY DIFFERENT THAN BEING IN THE NBA. WHEN YOU MAKE A GOOD SONG, PEOPLE CAN SING ALONG AND EXPERIENCE THE SONG DIRECTLY, VERSUS PEOPLE WATCHING A BASKETBALL GAME. WHEN YOU’RE ABLE TO GET THE CROWD MOVING, IT’S BEAUTIFUL
Orginally from the Queensbridge projects–What was it like growing up in Queensbridge?
Ron Artest: GROWING UP IN QB WAS HARD SOMETIMES, IT WAS DEFINITELTY GHETTO. BUT IT MADE ME THE MAN I AM TODAY. I THINK PRETTY MUCH WHEREVER ANYONE GROWS UP CONTRIBUTES TO AND BUILDS THEIR CHARACHTER. OVERALL, I’D SAY IT WAS A BLESSING TO GROW UP IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD.
What’s the craziest thing you experienced back then?
Ron Artest: CRAZIEST THING, I REMEMBER PLAYING BASKETBALL WHEN I WAS 13 YEARS OLD, AND OUT OF NOWHERE, SOMEONE STARTING SHOOTING LEFT AND RIGHT AND THE BULLETS WERE FLYING AROUND OUR LEGS. EVERYONE STARTED RUNNING FOR COVER, AND MIRACULOUSLY, NO ONE WAS HURT.
What was your inspiration on getting out of the projects? Were you involved with music at an early age?
Ron Artest: I ALWAYS HAD A LOVE FOR MUSIC – THE ADRENALINE YOU GET WHEN YOU HEAR A GOOD SONG IS GREAT. I ALWAYS LISTENED TO OLD SCHOOL MUSIC WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, WHICH I STILL APPRECIATE TODAY. I LOVE THE O’JAYS, THE DELL’S – AND LATER ON, ARTISTS LIKE KELIS, JAY Z, EMINEM.
Tell us about your label Tru Warier? How did this come together?
Ron Artest: THE NAME TRU WARIER CAME FROM UPTOWN, I WAS PLAYING BASKETBALL AT RUCKER PARK AND GOT THE NICKNAME TRU WARIER. SO WHEN I WAS TRYING TO COME UP WITH A NAME FOR MY LABEL, I THOUGHT ABOUT THE THREE NICKNAMES I HAVE HAD, AND DECIDED TO GO WITH TRU WARIER.
What artists are on your roster? (Any producers?)
Ron Artest: I HAVE A FEW PRODUCERS, AND TWO ARTISTS – BRASKA AND SOUL MONDAY.
What’s the release schedule looking like?
Ron Artest: THE RELEASE IS SET FOR HALLOWEEN, OCTOBER 31ST. IT HAS BEEN COMPLETED, AND FEATURES MIKE JONES, JUVENILE, PUFF DADDY, NATURE, CAPONE, INFAMOUS MOBB DEEP AND DJ BIG KAP.
What’s the message you’re trying to come across with for this album?
Ron Artest: THAT I CAN MAKE A GOOD ALBUM AND ACTUALLY DO MUSIC. I LOVE MUSIC, AND THERE WILL BE CONTROVERSY WITH PEOPLE SAYING I CAN’T MAKE MUSIC WITH ME BEING IN THE NBA, BUT I KNOW I AM TOTALLY CAPABLE OF MAKING A GOOD SONG.
Tell us about the video shoot in Vegas, give us some details?
Ron Artest: THE VIDEO SHOOT WAS COOL, THERE WERE A LOT OF FEMALES LOOKIN REAL GOOD. WE SHOT AT A REAL NICE MANSION, IN A CLUB, AND ON THE STRIP, AND THERE’S LOTS OF SHOTS WITH ME AND THE LADIES – IN THE POOL, DANCING IN THE CLUB – IT WAS COOL.
How do you compare the two – basketball and music?
Ron Artest: BOTH ARE HIGH ENERGY AND HARD WORK. ONE BIG DIFFERENCE IS, PERFORMING IN THE NBA THERE IS A BIG CROWD EVERY NIGHT, BUT PERFORMING MUSICALLY YOU ARE NEVER SURE HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL TURN OUT, UNLESS YOU’RE A BIG STAR.
How hard is it getting the respect connected with basketball compared to the music thing?
Ron Artest: IT’S GONNA BE HARD AS A RAPPER SINCE PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ME AS AN ARTIST. SO IT’S GONNA BE LIKE IT IS FOR ANY NEW ARTIST, IT WILL BE HARD TO GET RESPECT. SO I JUST HOPE THAT PEOPLE WILL ENJOY MY MUSIC AND WHAT I AM DOING
Who do you listen to? what artists you like?
Ron Artest: OLDIES, RIGHT NOW, LIKE THE OJAYS AND THE DELLS. I LOVE THE OLDIES.
You like the direction hip hop is in right now?
Ron Artest: I DON’T LIKE PEOPLE GETTING HURT, I CAN SAY THAT. I ALSO DON’T LIKE IT WHEN PEOPLE ARE INFLUENCING OTHER’S IN THE WRONG WAY. THAT’S WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT A LOT OF HIP HOP TODAY.
Hows the team gonna be this year?
Ron Artest: OUR TEAM IS GONNA BE STRAIGHT. WE’RE GONNA HAVE AN ALLSTAR SEASON THIS YEAR, WE HAVE A GREAT TEAM. IT’S GONNA BE PRETTY, PRETTY STRONG.
Anything else you want to speak on?
Ron Artest: NAH, JUST THAT THE ALBUM IS COMING OUT HALLOWEEN, GO COP THE ALBUM!
Footnote: Though Ron has come a long way since his days in Queens, he will never forget his roots. Ron goes back to Queensbridge on a regular basis and shows his love to his community by holding various basketball tournaments and donating to multiple charities. Ron sponsors LaSalle High School Basketball Camp and provides scholarships for students. He sponsors basketball leagues and tournaments for children in New York, including the All Star Tournament in Queensbridge on Labor Day every year. Ron also donates to and sponsors events for the Wheelchair Charity Organization.