ESPN Music: Music

Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter V" art revealed

August, 14, 2014

No, that wasn't the cover art for Lil Wayne's new album "Tha Carter V" that Kobe Bryant leaked back in April. Turns out it was just a promotional poster.

The real thing, an image of Wayne as a child with his mother, was unveiled Thursday morning on "SportsCenter" by Weezy himself after a threshold of fans re-tweeted a call to action to reveal the cover. It was news to his mother.

"I didn't tell her about the picture I was using for the album," said Wayne. "I know personally she doesn't really like that picture of herself."

But Wayne, who regularly uses a baby picture of himself on his albums, said this release is special to him and including his mother was "more than an accomplishment, it was an achievement."

Wayne has said that "Tha Carter V," which will be released on Oct. 28 and feature guest appearances from Drake and Nicki Minaj, will be his final album.

Lil Wayne Album Cover Courtesy Lil Wayne 



Jack White attended a Cubs game recently and had a reaction similar to, oh, most every Cubs fan since 1908 or so. Maybe it's because White isn't quite used to failure; the Cubs have the third-worst record in baseball, while White's latest album "Lazaretto" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. We asked SportsNation to come up with the best memes off the image from White's day at the ballpark:

Weird Al gets sporty with "Sports Song"

July, 18, 2014
Weird Al Yankovic is best known for his hilarious remakes of songs from the top of the charts. His new album, "Mandatory Fun," is more of the same, poking fun at Lorde's "Royals," Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and Iggy Azalea's "Fancy."

But it was the fourth track -- an original called "Sports Song" -- that has us wanting to make it the official song of college sports.


ESPN, Music

Metallica stars in "This is SportsCenter" ad

July, 15, 2014

What is a legendary heavy metal band to do when their lone sports gig dries up? Head to ESPN headquarters and start pounding the phones!

In the latest “This is SportsCenter” commercial, heavy metal masters Metallica, who for years were the soundtrack for Mariano Rivera’s late-game entrances, find themselves at a crossroads after the legendary pitcher hangs up his glove. The spot features ESPN’s Jay Harris, Scott Van Pelt and Stuart Scott.

Willie Nelson and Family visit ESPN

June, 17, 2014

If you looked at Willie Nelson's tour itinerary for mid-June you would have seen stops in Simsbury, Conn. and Boston with a day off in between. But it was no day off for the 81-year-old country music legend as he programmed the GPS for ESPN headquarters, set up a stage in the middle of the campus and performed the title track off his new album "Band of Brothers" live on SportsCenter as seen in the video above.

He also talked about his friendship with the late Texas football coach Darrell Royal, his fifth-degree black belt and more. And he wasn't done there. Before shipping up to Boston, Nelson fielded questions from fans in a live chat.

"Band of Brothers," featuring nine completely new songs among the 14 tracks, is in stores now. (iTunes | Amazon)

Action Bronson talks 'Blue Chips' mixtape

April, 24, 2014
Action BronsonJoseph Okpako/Redferns/Getty ImagesAction Bronson is a "die-hard" Knicks fan.
The year is 1994. The MLB Players Association begins its season-long strike; O.J. Simpson takes a long ride in his buddy’s white Ford Bronco; and "Blue Chips," the film about college basketball and its broken recruitment system starring Nick Nolte and Shaquille O’Neal, hits theaters and leaves an indelible mark on one 11-year-old boy in Queens, N.Y.

Twenty years later, that boy is known to rap fans as Action Bronson, who over the course of the last two years has put out two mixtapes -- "Blue Chips" and "Blue Chips 2" -- inspired by the film. While recording his new album in Santa Monica (slated for a late summer release), Bronson talked about the impact basketball has had on his music.

“I love 'Blue Chips,'" says Bronson. "It was one of my favorite movies growing up, and it’s just one of my favorite movies period. It definitely influenced the projects, for sure -- nothing direct, just the whole feel. Nile Rodgers did the score, the guy from "The Exorcist" directed it -- I knew that "Chips" was going to be ahead of its time.”

Bronson’s mixtapes, produced by Party Supplies, have the crunchy swagger of "Blue Chips"-era New York rap, replete with vinyl pops, guitar tremors and shimmering ride cymbals. For Bronson, other similarities come to mind.

“I just feel like it’s similar to the rap game. They give you the bag of money and you go out there and you do what you do. I don’t know if there’s any point-shaving going on, but I’m all about making a quick buck on gambling -- dice games, horse racing, cockroach racing, chicken fights. That could sum up my entire being.”

A self-described die-hard Knicks fan with the word “Knickerbocker” tattooed on the back of his leg, Bronson hasn’t been taking the team’s recent woes well. “They disappoint me a lot. I don’t think we’ll win anything with Melo on that team. The man has never dunked the ball hard in his life! He doesn’t have the killer instinct.”

But even a true die-hard must be thrilled on the recent hiring of Phil Jackson. “The Knicks have made a lot of moves lately that are too little, too late," he says. "Why did we get Baron Davis at the end of his career? B-Diddy is one of my favorite players of all time. If we’d had him at a younger age, what could’ve been? It’s upsetting.”

Despite the emotional ringer the organization has put Bronson through, he still goes to games whenever he can. “Last time I went to a Knicks game was when Kevin Love hit me up and got me his tickets. So I sat right behind Spike Lee.” Love is apparently a fan of Bronson's music and, in the words of Bronson, “a great dude.” As any great fan would, Bronson has attempted to recruit Love to the Knicks in 2015. “You already know I did! I pretty much begged.” The result? “I can’t disclose that.”

You can catch Bronson at the home of one of his other favorite teams, the N.Y. Jets, when he hits MetLife Stadium for Hot 97’s Summer Jam on June 1.
San Antonio Spurs reserve player Matt Bonner recently found himself in Austin, TX with tacos and no one to share them with after being stood up by rapper Riff Raff. No worries. Bushwick Bill to the rescue! The Geto Boys MC joined the 3-point ringer and amateur beatboxing Bonner in the first edition of the web series "Wrappin' With The Red Mamba."

Manchester Orchestra's Hull talks NBA

April, 1, 2014
Manchester Orchestra  Andrew Thomas LeeManchester Orchestra's long-awaited fourth studio album "Cope" is in stores now.
Manchester Orchestra singer and songwriter Andy Hull is a huge NBA fan and fantasy basketball is a big part of how he keeps up with the sport on the road. “It’s a very tight, close league,” he says of the league he’s won three years in a row. “Everybody's picking up and dropping every day. It’s really fun and totally mocked by wives and girlfriends.”

But there won't be a championship four-peat for Hull this season. He finished the semifinal round in a tie with lead guitarist Robert McDowell, and McDowell advanced to the finals on a tiebreaker.

"LaMarcus Aldridge was out for seven games -- he missed three or four games during the week, which killed me," Hull explained. "And (Robert) had Kevin Durant. So that's gonna happen."

Hull recently talked about his love of the NBA and the band's do-it-yourself effort that went into their new album "Cope" –- a two-year process in which the band remodeled and soundproofed a suburban Atlanta house as its recording studio, then cut the album themselves.

“I'm definitely proud of this whole album more than anything else we've done,” he said.

How would you sum up the mood of this record from a musical and lyrical standpoint?
The mood is vital, it’s really immediate. It's intentionally immediate. And hopefully impactful. We really went broad on our last record ("Simple Math," released in 2011 ) and tried a bunch of different sonic landscapes. As we did that as a live band over the years we started to become way more aggressive yet still catchy. So we thought let’s create this super-raw, loud monster and have really nice-sounding catchy vocals over the top of it -- not like screaming my head off -- sort of the yin and yang of that.

Did you feel more pressure and expectations this time around?
I think for every record you can assign a part of your career to it. The first one can't suck, because it’s how you're being introduced. Then there's the fear of the second record -- this is what makes or breaks you. And then, when you get to the third record, you've got your fan base and you can test the waters a bit. The expectations I keep on us and band has on ourselves -- there's always a lot of pressure, self-induced, to perform at a higher level and do something that hasn't been repeated. It would be awesome to be the band that doesn't release a bad record.

How do you think pressure and expectations change the way musicians or athletes approach their professions?
It's gotta be tough to be on a losing team. I think that's the biggest difference. I get to go out every night and play and have a blast and at the end no one's booing. It's all "you're great, that was great." You can go and work so hard for three hours as a football player or basketball player, pour your heart out and lose.

When did your NBA fandom start?
It started really young, six or seven years old, and I've always been fascinated with stats and the emotion of the game. My absolute favorite thing to do is talk about it and watch it.

[+] EnlargeManchester Orchestra
Favorite Gentlemen, Loma VistaClick here to get your copy of "Cope" on CD or vinyl.
Did you have a favorite player or team growing up?
That's the weird thing about me and game of basketball. I don't have a favorite team and I don't have a favorite player. I just love it as a whole. It’s like a great movie to watch. I moved to Toronto when I was a kid and it was the year the Raptors started. I was in sixth, seventh, eighth grade when Vince Carter was there and that was exciting. Vince was my favorite player at that point.

Were you disappointed the way that ended in Toronto?
Yeah, it was so sad. There was that incredible series between the Sixers and the Raptors. It was the best basketball I can ever remember watching and then it just fizzled out. The next year they played Detroit in the first round and got beat and they've never been able to recover.

You never became an Atlanta Hawks fan, then?
No, not really. They're always just hurting you. When they were doing all right I was kind of into basketball, but they were always getting beaten by the Bulls in the second round every year. Then there were some really weird years. Like when they had Glenn Robinson and Jason Terry. And Josh Smith was such a frustrating individual to watch.

Do you have a problem with NBA teams tanking?
I guess I'm very flip-flopped on it. If it's a team I think would be awesome to have a great young player, that would be cool. It’s definitely a weird thing to do, but I guess I understand it. It's gotta be tough for some of the guys on the team who want to win.

Who's your MVP this season? LeBron James, Kevin Durant or someone else?
I guess Kevin Durant because he’s playing absolutely out of his mind at this point. Some would say Joakim Noah from the Bulls but I don’t really agree. You could say LaMarcus Aldridge but he’s been kind of injury-prone. I’d give it to KD, he’s averaging 32 points per game and keeping that team afloat. But I don’t think they’re going to go anywhere.

Do you think there's a parallel between the creativity of an NBA scorer like Kevin Durant and the creative process that goes into an album or performing live?
I think there's certainly something to fashioning your gift and working on your talent. And if you spend time on it you'll see that improvement in areas. I definitely see a parallel there. The cool thing about music is you can just go so far out of the box. If you want to enter a totally different world it’s as easy as writing it down. And there’s fundamentals, but I guess it's about improvising on those fundamentals which is what those guys are doing, too.

You've had a pretty big beard for a while. What kind of beard best suits an NBA player?
I love the huge beard. I love the James Harden thing. Even when I'd create players in “NBA 2K” I'd make have them have a beard. And that was before I could grow a beard!

Do you think beards work better in the NBA than in other sports?
I'm going to sound like such a freak. I think they work great everywhere. Plus, if people have a beard it means they don’t have to be at a job where they can’t have a beard. I'm always interested in what they do.

The Chicago Blackhawks have used your music. How did that work and what was it like to see that in person?
The Blackhawks used one of our songs for an entire season. After their second period montage thing they used "Shake It Out." We got to go to a game and they gave us jerseys with our names on them. It was awesome.

What was it like to hear your song used that way?
It was incredible. I just stood up with both hands raised in the air like I just won. We were so stoked. And the fans there -- I had never seen anything like it. And I grew up in Toronto. Those fans in Chicago are insane.

You're heading to the UK and one of your tour dates is in Manchester, England. Was it at all weird the first time you went to play there as an Atlanta-based band named Manchester Orchestra?
It was weird for us. We were worried people would show up and expect something different. But it was actually awesome. People knew who we were and were stoked we were there. Every time we go back it's so cool, sort of like a hometown show.

Aloe Blacc, UT band perform ''The Man''

March, 14, 2014

Singer, songwriter, rapper and all-around musical dynamo Aloe Blacc brought his hit song "The Man" to Jimmy Kimmel Live recently and enlisted the help of the University of Texas marching band. Check out the performance above and watch ESPN during the month of March to hear more songs from Blacc's new album "Lift Your Spirit." (iTunes | Amazon)

MGMT's VanWyngarden recalls Luck visit

December, 6, 2013
Andrew VanwyngardenDavid Wolff-Patrick/Redferns/Getty ImagesWhen Andrew VanWyngarden isn't making music on stage, you'll likely find him on top of a wave.
MGMT has come a long way since forming on the campus of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT in the early 2000s, just a stones throw from ESPN headquarters.

The "dazzling electro-psych" band, as described by Rolling Stone in a review of the their 2008 debut album "Oracular Spectacular," has since opened for Paul McCartney at Fenway Park, released two more critically-acclaimed albums and been nominated for two Grammy Awards. Back in the Nutmeg State for a tour stop, we caught up with lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden to ask how he got Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on stage at a show back in November.

Andrew, thanks for the time. So let’s get right to it. MGMT and Andrew Luck on stage together. Set the scene.
We usually have some kind of contest in each city and the winner gets to play the cowbell. Or we might bring out a friend. Our tour manager had played at the same venue with another band and Luck had come to that show. They were still in contact so we asked Andrew if he wanted to play and he did! Him and Anthony Castanzo came and played. Andrew seemed like a pretty hip dude. I had a great time and it was amazing just to stand next to him. The cowbell is like 75 pounds and it comes with a giant drumstick. Seeing this mega-man doing it was pretty funny to watch.

You’re not a huge sports fan though, right? Did you realize who these guys were?
James Richardson, our guitarist, was even more into it than me. He’s obsessed with everything NFL and fantasy football. He’s a Redskins fan, but he was still really into it.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck & MGMT
Courtesy of MGMT/TumblrAndrew Luck, with Anthony Castanzo, shows off his cowbell skills at a MGMT show in Indianapolis.
Do you guys still get excited by finding out who listens to your music or in what areas of the world you are most popular?
Definitely. It’s always exciting. We’ve gone to places like South Korea where people are singing every word. It’s amazing to see. It’s fun to know when a celebrity or athlete likes our music.

What was it like playing Fenway Park when you opened for Paul McCartney?
We’re not really a stadium band. It was amazing to see Paul McCartney with all his pyrotechnics and stuff. I think a stadium like that is more suited to legendary acts like him. Being on the field at Fenway was very cool though.

Coming back to Connecticut must be a bit of a trip down memory lane. As was your recent show in Pittsburgh where you grew up. What has the last week been like?
Pittsburgh really was a trip down memory lane. We hadn’t played there since I think 2005. I haven’t really been around there much since I grew up. I went out with my tour manager just driving around to see the school I went to and the house I grew up in. And the place we are playing here in Connecticut, I think I went to a show or two there when I was in college.

Coming up you have the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That’s still a fairly new venue, not a ton of artists have played there. Are you particularly excited about that show?
We’re really stoked about the Brooklyn show. It will be our first show in New York in over three years. It’s nice for that to be the closing show of this big US tour. We’re playing with Dinosaur Jr. and Kuroma. It’s going to be pretty sweet. I hope all my friends can come.

Are you going to get some time off after that show?
We don’t get much time off until mid-January. We are going to Australia and Japan over New Year’s. I hope I can get some surfing in. I have some friends in Sydney and I hope we can get in the water.

What is it about surfing that you fell in love with?
I already loved the ocean and being in nature. I was into skateboarding and snowboarding when I was a kid, so this is the perfect thing for me. It’s therapeutic to just sit out there, even by yourself in 30 degree water.

What should people expect when they go to a MGMT show?
It’s gotten to a good point where it’s a combination of songs from all three of the albums we have put out. We play with a six-piece band. It all works well together, especially the visuals behind us. We’ve been having some of the best shows we’ve ever played in the last couple months. I’m anxious to show everyone in New York how far we’ve come since 2010.

Mason: Passing the torch to No. 21

December, 6, 2013
Chris Davis leads Auburn to victory over AlabamaAP Photo/Dave MartinTre Mason, No. 21, looks on in awe as Chris Davis scores the winning touchdown.
Somewhat forgotten in the afterglow of Auburn's last-second victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl thanks to a 100-yard missed field goal return, was the play of junior running back Tre Mason who rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown.

One person, nine rows away from the field throughout the game, won't have a problem remembering his contributions: Vincent Mason, AKA DJ Maseo of De La Soul, AKA Tre's dad.

We caught up with Vincent at home in Miami to talk about watching his son play in what many are calling the greatest college football game of all time and juggling his busy schedule to see the season play out.

What was going through your mind sitting in the stands watching Tre in that game?
To see him perform on that level was just amazing. He's been obsessed with football since he was 8 or 9 years old. I've seen him do some amazing things throughout his junior high and high school years. But to see him on this Division I level, playing with the best of the best around the nation, is amazing. He is out there making history if you want to look at it like that. It's surreal to know he is my kid. I'm just really really happy for him. I've been living my dream since I was 19 and I know all the hard work that went into it and I've watched him put in the same work.

What did he say when you caught up to him after the game?
After the game he was just so happy. So, so happy. "We did it! We did it! We did it!" was all he kept saying. Then it was "I'm in pain though!"

Will you be at the SEC championship game in Atlanta? Is it hard trying to juggle your busy schedule with his?
Yes, I'm going. I've been making some switches in my schedule. Art Basel is going on right now in Miami so I'm doing a lot of shows for that. It's the hardest thing trying to juggle my life with his. Sports and entertainment happen on the same timeframe, but this is what I have to do to support my family. I've been out of the country a lot during this season and trying to catch the games on TV or see highlights on YouTube. I'm trying to keep January 6 open as well - like, really, really trying - in case they get to the championship game.

But it's worth it, right?
Oh yes. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to be a part of this as a dad.

[+] EnlargeVincent Mason
Scott Sharpe/Getty ImagesVincent Mason is more than happy to see his son take over the spotlight.
If they do get to that championship game, is your phone going to blow up with everyone in the hip-hop community asking for tickets?
Man, I've been hearing from everyone since the season started. It's funny, it's not something that comes up in normal conversation. How do you say, "My son is No. 21!" That's so braggadocious it's beyond hip-hop! So for them to be finding out because of how well he is doing is really exciting. We're all sharing the moment together.

Did you ever have dreams of being an athlete or was it always music for you?
As a boy coming up you always fancy yourself an athlete. I played a little basketball. As far as football, it wasn't a major interest. But I did get talked into it my senior year of high school. I didn't know much about the sport, I just played around the neighborhood. My passion has always been the music. I was DJing at 6 years old!

Do you think athletes have it better than musicians?
An athlete has the better life of course. They get treated so well. It's crazy! Back in the day our treatment always flucuated based on the sales of our albums!

Are you surprised at all by how passionate football fans are in Alabama?
It's the same way in Florida. They take it as a religion here as well. People come from counties all over to watch high school games like its a NFL game. They don't even know the kids. They just come to watch high school football. It's packed like a college or NFL game. It's amazing to see. I'm from up North and they take basketball the same way. So I get it.

Let's go back to 1989 for a second. You guys delivered your seminal debut album "3 Feet High and Rising," and a few months later follow-up albums appeared from Beastie Boys, EPMD and Jungle Brothers. It was a pretty epic year for hip-hop. What do you remember about that time?
It was a major turning point in everyone's lives. It was a turning point for hip-hop. It finally was a force to be reckoned with. Still unregarded as an art form, but a force with the amount of business it was doing. It was an instrumental point in my life when I was considering going to the military. But then we put out the single "Jenifa (Taught Me)/Potholes In My Lawn" and then the label wanted a video for "Potholes" and then that turned into an option for an album. Everything was happening so fast so I skipped the rest of my high school senior year to cut the record and went back and graduated in 1989 instead of '88.

Awhile back we talked to Tech N9ne. He skipped his high school graduation to perform!
I failed my true last year of high school with all the stuff I was doing! It was crazy going from studio to studio and then trying to go to class. When the record began to take off Russell Simmons had to come to my school and meet with the teachers to work out a plan for me to do my work from the road!

So it's safe to say Tre is more book smart than you?
No doubt. He has both his parents on his back. I didn't have that!

What do you think the future holds for Tre?
It looks like the NFL could be in his future, but you never know what God has in store. He could get hurt. You never know. We just try to take it one game at a time. He feels at home with Auburn, the same as he did in high school. His performances come from that comfort and the friends and coaches he has around him. Tre is a people person, just like his mom and dad. If you don't like Tre, something is wrong with you. I'm happy to know my kid is a cool kid. Once he is under that pressure of making that decision, it will be a hard one. Parting is always bittersweet.

Steve Levy's 'Rolling Stone' moment

November, 21, 2013
Levy/DylanESPN Images,Getty ImagesESPN's Steve Levy appears in a new music video for Bob Dylan's song "Like A Rolling Stone."
Steve Levy was in a Bob Dylan music video.

Some sentences have to be read twice.

Steve Levy was in a Bob Dylan music video.

We tracked down the veteran "SportsCenter" anchor, who appears on channel 133 in the insanely interactive sing-along, about how the video came to be and what he thought of his own performance.

How in the world did you wind up in a Bob Dylan video?!
It started with an email from our Senior VP Laurie Orlando. She didn’t seem to know too much about it. She said they weren't paying any money, but it could be a fun thing if I wanted to do it. I'm pretty open to everything and it was only going to be 10 minutes so I agreed to do it. Next thing I know I'm in a studio and they want me to mouth the words to "Like A Rolling Stone!" The director was telling me he was going to play the song in my earpiece and he wanted me to just mouth the words and I said "I don't know all the words! I don't know the whole song!" It's hard to make out all of the words. He takes these pauses and hangs on to certain letters and words.

Has it totally sunk in that you, Steve Levy, really were in a Bob Dylan video!?
All I know is one other anchor was asked before me, but they weren't paying so he turned it down. What can I say, I'm easy.

How long was it between filming and when the video came out?
Honestly, I couldn't see the big picture or what it was going to be so I didn't make much of it. Usually with stuff like this it is a four-second clip that pops up six months after you shoot it. But this was done like a week ago! The amazing thing was we shot this right across from a live "SportsCenter!" But I wasn't making any noise at all and the music was in my ear so it was totally silent the whole time.

So you probably didn't know who else was going to be in the video before it came out?
Not at all. At first I thought I was going to be the whole thing which was very concerning! I knew they were going to mix in some highlights or something like that but I didn't know the extent of it. I thought it was going to be three-and-a-half minutes of me which would have been terrible for everyone involved.

How would you rate your performance?
I would give myself a C-. I was off on so many of the words. But Bob has such a unique style. I shouldn't be too hard to myself, this was a bucket list kind of thing. People keep saying "you were in a Bob Dylan video!"

Not that you're music credentials will ever be called into question now, but what was the first and last concert you attended?
First concert was The Cars at Madison Square Garden. Last was Shania Twain in Las Vegas.

How did the nerves involved with this compare to some of your movie cameos?
I wasn't as nervous with this. In the movies my biggest fear is screwing up the star of the movie. I was afraid I would have to make the star do another take because I messed up. I don't want Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson yelling at me! That's pressure when someone like that is tired and just wants the day to be over. This was just me alone on a set trying to make my mouth match Bob's brilliant lyrics.

Where does this fit among all the cool things you've been able to do in your job?
I've been truly amazed at the hype and reaction this has received. I never could have anticipated it. But this is what I truly love about ESPN and "SportsCenter." It's a job -- if you can even call it a job -- that I love to do. It allows me to take care of my family in a way I never imagined possible. I get to do things the regular Joe doesn't get to do like cameos in the movies or visiting our troops in Kuwait when we took "SportsCenter" on the road ... and appearing in a Bob Dylan music video!

K.C.'s Tech N9ne, Chiefs rising together

October, 29, 2013
Tech N9ne Courtesy of Tech N9ne Tech N9ne reveals what scares him and how his career mirrors that of Alex Smith.
It's a good time to be Tech N9ne.

The Kansas City native rapper is touring the country on "Something Else," his highest-charting album to date, he was recently called "Hip Hop's secret mogul" by Forbes magazine, he's playing his home town on Oct. 30th, he gets to celebrate his favorite holiday, Halloween, the following night and last but not least, he's releasing a radical new EP "Therapy - Sessions with Ross Robinson" on Nov. 5.

The icing on the cake? His beloved hometown Chiefs are undefeated.

Tech N9ne, AKA Aaron Dontez Yates, has been in the rap game since his big break opening for EPMD on the same day he was supposed to walk at his high school graduation. Since then he has released 13 studio albums and built up his own independent record label, Strange Music, into a hip-hop powerhouse.

We caught up with him on the phone from Chicago where he was waking up to one of roughly 200 days on the road this year and fighting a fall cold.

Sorry to hear about the cold!
The cold is coming out of me. But it's the worst thing to have when you are Tech N9ne. Nothing can stop me though. As long as my brain and heart are working I’m good. I'm only worried about my Achilles! We are athletes up on stage, man. If you ever see a Tech N9ne show, we are athletes up there. And I'm not even all the way in shape. That’s for real for real for real.

You've been repping Kansas City for a long time now. But it seems like most people don't even know if Kansas City is in Kansas or Missouri.
People's outlook on Kansas City is always like "they let you rap in K.C.?" Or "How's Dorothy and Toto?" They put Kansas and Kansas City together when it's really separate. I'd say it like this – we are the city slickers. We're where the tall high rises and buildings are. It's a beautiful thing. The city of fountains. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I moved to L.A. and then moved back. Not because I wasn't successful, but because K.C. is my comfort zone. There is barbecue everywhere. I love Gates. I love Smokehouse. LC's BBQ. I can find more places to eat in K.C. than L.A. The only things people don't like about K.C. are the ice storms and the snow. But you can change the weather like I do. I leave and go to the Caribbean!

Speaking of food, if I've only got time for one meal in K.C. do I go barbecue or the Tech N9ne pizza?
Oh man! Next Door Pizza! Wow! You've done your research brother! If I say Next Door Pizza, and I've had it more than once, I don't want to upset my BBQ partners! But it's all good. I'd tell you to get the pizza! But stay a couple days and get both.

How excited are you to see the Chiefs at 8-0?
My uncle had me in the stands at Arrowhead freezing in the wintertime since I was 5 years old. He used to buy those little heat things you crack open. I'd put those in my shoes and my feet would be burning! To see them popping like this, man, I always said me and the Chiefs were going to rise at the same time and it's happening. Being on the Forbes list and our tours selling like they are.

[+] EnlargeTech N9ne
Courtesy Tech N9ne"We wear uniforms on stage, but I get to floss when I'm offstage. I wear my Jamaal Charles jersey," says Tech N9ne.
Has the Chiefs Fever infected your whole crew?
Everyone on my bus is a sports nut. Every time I come into the bus my guys are watching sports. Krizz Kaliko is a super sports nut. It was so wonderful to turn on the TV during the fourth quarter last Sunday and see the end of the game. The satellite wasn't working on my bus so we went over to the crew bus and watched the end of the game there. I can't believe they are 8-0! I went out and paid $135 for a Jamaal Charles jersey. It's all red. Red is my color. It's red, red, red. Special. I’m representin' out here.

So I take it you'll be in New Jersey if the Chiefs make it to the Super Bowl?
I’m going! I tour so much and usually around that time I'm just getting off vacation. But if they go? Oh my God. I'll have to make plans for that. My uncle has been going for years. He sells Super Bowl tickets. My whole sports nut family goes every year. For like a decade. But I can never make it because I give my life to my fans on the road. I'm actually more worried right now about how I'm going to get tickets to the Denver game! Last year you could get a ticket for like $10. Not this year.

Do you see some of yourself in quarterback Alex Smith? Here's a guy who didn't exactly set the world on fire early in his career and then was dumped by San Francisco right as he was getting hot and now he’s having a “I told you so!” kind of season in Kansas City.
I’m still having that moment. The slow roll surprises everybody. Everyone expects you to be right there. But when you are creeping on them and working on your craft, like I'm sure he is, you take people by surprise. Stickin' em! Pow pow! I always knew I had it. Plus we are in the "Show Me" state. Everyone is like "show me what you can do." Even in rap, it took K.C. awhile to get on to Tech N9ne. It was hurtful because places like Denver had been on me for a decade. Now we are shining and on the incline. It"s "I told you so" just like you said. We aren't cocky about it ... and it doesn't seem like he is either ... but we are going to get it done. I just pray they can keep this winning streak going. I would love to see all that red at the Super Bowl.

Awhile back you were on a Chiefs remix of "It's On Now" by the 57th Street Rogue Dog Villians. What do you remember about that recording?
I forgot all about that. That's crazy. I remember that studio session. It united red and blue in the studio that day. It was so wonderful. People from different hoods, you know what I mean? We got on the same song and it was a wonderful day. I got reunited with the 57th Rogue Dog Villians. Whenever you can take something positive and make something good out of it, that's what I'm all about. Different gangs and different hoods in the same packed studio. It was all love.

Chiefs safety Eric Berry is afraid of horses. A problem when your team mascot is a real, live horse. What is Tech N9ne afraid of?
Lightning. I'm a good guy. I have an angel heart. But something about lightning makes me duck. I don't think I've done enough bad things in my life for anything to strike me down though. I've also had a phobia of knives because when I was younger I was cutting oranges and the knife fell on my foot. But something about lightning don't sit well with me. I can deal with thunder, but not lightning. I'm always ducking.

What do you make of that story about P Diddy wanting to own a NFL team?
All the rappers are doing stuff like that. Didn't Jay-Z own part of the Brooklyn Nets? If Oprah wanted to buy a team, would it be bad because she is a woman or because she is black? I think cash is king. I wouldn't give a damn if it was a horse who wanted to buy the team. It's like when I get through selling Caribou Lou on top of developing subdivisions ... we are going to go from millionaires to billionaires and hopefully we'll be talking to someone about a team! I would hope that it doesn't matter if he is black or a rapper or what, as long as he has the cash and knowledge.

Did you always want to be a rapper?
I've always been my own psychiatrist. I wanted to be a psychiatrist before I wanted to be a rapper. I took it personal when people around me would pay to see a psychiatrist or another shrink. I felt like I was one!

Tech N9neClick here to pre-order "Therapy - Sessions with Ross Robinson." Release date: November 5.
So you are only three months removed from "Something Else" and already dropping the "Therapy – Sessions with Ross Robinson" EP on Nov. 5. What's the story with "Therapy" and how did you hook up with the legendary rock producer?
I had met Ross before at this wonderful hotel in Beverly Hills. I noticed how he talked to me differently than other people. He was asking me about K.C., what it smelled and tasted like. It was like therapy. It was ultra-uncomfortable at first because I like to be alone when I'm thinking and writing, but in this case it was Ross, Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit, Syd Wilson AKA DJ Starscream of Slipknot, and a bunch of folks, and they would all ask me what I was thinking. I needed to be outside my comfort zone to bring out songs like "When Demons Come" or "Public School." I'm anxious for people to hear it.

What do you have planned for the good people of Omaha on Halloween?
Oh my goodness. Halloween is my favorite holiday. It's like my Christmas. I don't know if I will paint my face different or not. I'm usually Tech N9ne every Halloween. That's my favorite. I was going to find a tuxedo and put blood on my white tuxedo shirt, but I haven't had time. I wanted a whole vampire theme. I'm just going to bring all my energy ... Stevie Stone, ¡Mayday!, Ces Cru, Krizz Kaliko ... and we are going to murder, in a good way, on Halloween. It's going to be massive.


ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Sam Alipour talks with Justin Timberlake, who stars in the new movie "Runner Runner" (in theaters today), about his poker game and ownership stake in the Memphis

Music featured on ESPN's 'First Take'

September, 3, 2013
Here's a list of songs from performers featured on ESPN's "First Take," along with links to the artist's websites and links for you to download and buy the songs and/or albums:

September Music for "First Take" programming

Coe 24K: "All Talk"

Not available for sale

Michael Minelli: "Can You Hear Me"

Not available for sale

Serena Ryder: "Stompa" from the "Harmony" album.

(iTunes | Amazon)

The 1975: "Talk!" from the “The 1975” album.

(iTunes | Amazon)

The Kickdrums: "Thinking Out Loud" from the “Thinking Out Loud” album.

(iTunes | Amazon)