Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom hopes to celebrate two career milestones this summer: not only his first NBA championship, but also the successful emergence of his label Rich Soil Entertainment and re-emergence of the labels marquee artist, Ali Vegas.
Odom announced the forthcoming release of Vegas debut, Generation Gap 2: The Prequel, due out in August through a partnership with Asylum Records.
Featuring production by a number of Hip-Hop heavyweights, including DJ Premier, Scott Storch, Cool & Dre, and Midi Mafia and appearances by Akon, Styles P. and R&B songstress Deemi, Generation Gap 2 marks the culmination of nearly decade long career for 24-year-old Ali Vegas.
One of my focuses was to get him the best music because that seems to be what captures peoples ear automatically, Odom told AllHipHop.com of his childhood friend. And [Ill] just let Veg do the rest. Hes playing at a high skill level. The faith that we got in him is just I mean I think he could take off right where Jay and Nas left off. I think hes that talented.
Since first appearing on the scene in the late 90s, the Queens native has released nine mixtapes, an independent album, and a DVD project, while being unsuccessfully signed to the rosters of both Trackmasters Entertainment/Columbia Records and Tommy Mottolas Casablanca Records.
Still, Vegas feels that his experience ultimately gives him an edge, and believes that his not so new situation with Rich Soil Entertainment, where he has been signed since 2006, will ultimately lead to a win.
I got creative control over everything, Ali Vegas, the self-proclaimed Prince of New York, told AllHipHop.com. Its all on me. I got the freedom that I didnt have in my past deals. Im in a way better position. I got the upper hand because [most artists] dont have the resources that I have. Plus I can make the music that I wanna make, because its not a money thing. So I can be the Martin Luther or Malcolm X and take a stand for Hip-Hop as a whole and make the music that needs to be made instead of just following the trends.
I represent the gap thats between the students and the teachers, continues Vegas. I sit down, I have 3-hour, 6-hour conversations with DJ Premier, Dougie Fresh. I have talks with the teachers, and they tell me how they jaded with the game, they gripes with the game today. And I can understand it, I was there. I see what they see. I seen what the game left and went to. But at the same time, the youngins look at me as their peer, not as a preacher. So I understand the students.
For Odom, the decision to work with Vegas was the motivating factor for the launch of Rich Soil Entertainment, which shares its name with a faith-inspired clothing line also launched in 2006.
The 28-year-old South Jamaica, Queens native studied the game while observing his friends struggles within the industry.
Once traded to the Lakers in 2004, he saw an opportunity to make a difference.
I always been close to rap music, because of Ali, Odom said, while joking that he balances his two careers by sacrificing sleep. When I got traded, I just started to get visions and ideas because of the star power that the Lakers have and because Ali is so great at what he does. I just got all these ideas, all these visions, and I just kinda thought, Maybe I should do it myself. So I just put the right people, just found the right people to put around myself. Its something that I wasnt afraid to fail at, at all. I guess not being afraid to fail let me know that I can get this done.
Though Odom does plan on developing Rich Soils roster in the future, right now he maintains his focus is on Ali Vegas.
We got people thats interested in being down with Rich Soil, people thats good enough to get on Rich Soil, he says. But right now, to get Veg off is our main focus. And if we do anything else, Id just be wasting my time. Ali is our main focus. Hes what we believe in. We understand how good he is. Hes our LeBron James. Hes our superstar.
With an impressive contribution by Odom, who netted 17 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists, the Lakers won their first matchup with their first Playoff opponents, the Denver Nuggets on Sunday (Apr 20).
The Lakers seek to increase their Round One lead to two tonight at 10:30pm ET at the Staples Center in LA.