Joe Smith: Locked-Out Laker Stays Busy With Rap


It’s been a long career for NBA veteran power forward and current Los Angeles Laker Joe Smith. The first pick of the 1995 draft out of University of Maryland, Smith was selected by the Golden State Warriors and was named to the All-Rookie team that season. Since then, it’s been a journey for Joe – literally! Whether it’s been via trade or free agency, Joe has managed to play for 12 different teams (counting two different stints with the Philadelphia 76’ers) – a record that he shares with two other basketball players.

Normally around this time of the year, along with the rest of the NBA, Joe would be preparing for the start of another season. However, due to issues between the NBA owners and the players association, Commissioner David Stern has ordered a lockout which has put the entire season in jeopardy. While the two sides negotiate, Joe Smith has been busy working on his own Hip-Hop TV show, which premiered on Los Angeles local channel KCAL 9 on October 1. The veteran baller is also going by the rap name Joe Beast as he prepares his own mixtape.

Another athlete rapper? NBA lockout? What went wrong with the Lakers last season? Why has he played for so many teams? Find out what Joe Smith has to say about all of that as he linked up with for an exclusive sit-down interview: Let’s start with your new TV show. Tell us a little about it.

Joe Smith: I’m the host of a show called “Video Hot Mix” that mixes and blends all of your favorite videos. It starts October 1 on KCAL 9 in Los Angeles. We have a 13-week schedule right now, and hopefully, we can continue it to another season. We’re out in the streets and at different events all over getting interviews with all sorts of artists and entertainers. We’re trying to make the right kind of show. Normally, around this time of year, you are preparing for another season of basketball. The lockout has really freed you up to do a show like this.

Joe Smith: [laughter] That’s the only good thing about the lockout right now. I do have the time right now to devote to the show and to make it the best that it can be. Other than that, we are all ready to get back to work. We all love playing the game of basketball, and that’s something that we all want to get back to doing. At the same time, we as players can’t just sit around and wait for the lockout to end. We all have to find ways to hustle until the lockout ends, and this is my hustle. What are your thoughts on the NBA lockout?

Joe Smith: I went through the first lockout in 1998, and who would’ve thought that I would be able to stick around in the NBA to experience a second one? It’s a business decision on both parts. I understand what the owners are trying to do. I’m quite sure that they understand what we are trying to do. We just have to try to find a common ground to where we can get something done and get this season under way. We are ways apart, but at the same time, we are working hard to get it done. Your boy Derek Fisher is out there fighting for you guys. It must be great to have a teammate who is also the president of the NBA Players Association. I imagine getting your demands to him is easy. [laughter]

Joe Smith: Not really, but he’s accessible. It’s been nice just having him two lockers down instead of having to actually pick up a phone and call him. [laughter] Derek has been doing a great job as our president. Everybody respects what he’s brought to the table and the work that he’s done for us. We get e-mails all of the time from him updating us on what’s going on with the lockout. I just got another update from him two days ago. He knows what the players and the owners are trying to do – and he’s trying to find that common ground. Let’s talk about the last season. What happened to the Lakers last year?

Joe Smith: We lost to a hot Dallas team. Dallas was hot. Anytime you go through the playoffs the way they did – I mean they had some stiff competition. They had Portland in the first round, us in the second, Oklahoma City in the third, and then Miami in the Finals. You have to be a hot team to beat all of those teams. They beat us all convincingly. There was nothing wrong with us. We just ran in to a good team. The strain of a back-to-back championship had nothing to do with it?

Joe Smith: No, not at all. This team is a very confident team. Regardless of what goes on during the course of a season, this team has a lot of veterans that know what it takes to win. We just ran in to a team that was playing better than anybody else at that time. I don’t think there are any corrections that we need to make. You’ve been on a lot of teams. I believe that you share the record for most teams played for. Why do you think it’s turned out for you that way?

Joe Smith: I’m “America’s Most Wanted.” [laughter] I don’t know, but it’s always good to know that you are accepted and appreciated everywhere you go. Whether I was used to getting someone else, or whatever happened in how a free agency or trade went down, I was always accepted to wherever I was headed. I’ve been on a lot of teams, but it’s been a great experience and a great career for me. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve enjoyed myself and my experiences. What team that you’ve played for is your favorite so far?

Joe Smith: I’ve been on some fun teams. I had a fun team in Minnesota. Last year with the Lakers was a fun experience. Even though we didn’t win a championship, we had that chance to get another ring. Being in Cleveland for two years, I had fun with Lebron and those guys. I try not to classify my experience with teams just based on our records. I look at how we enjoyed ourselves and the camaraderie of the team. Those were some good teams to be apart of. Here’s a curveball question. What about your least favorite team?

Joe Smith: Awww, man. I don’t think I even have a least favorite team. Everywhere I’ve gone, I was able to have a good experience. I can’t say that I have a least favorite team. Fair enough. Like other athletes before you, you have moved over to the music industry. Your rap name is Joe Beast?

Joe Smith: Yes. I’ve been doing it for 14 years. I started messing around my rookie year so I don’t even count those years. I really started getting in to it during my third year in the league. I’ve been growing and buying equipment for my studio. I’ve been writing so much to the point where I feel like I’m ready to release something. Before I was kind of hesitant due to the stereotype of athletes trying to be artists. I didn’t want to just throw anything out and be in that same label. I took my time. I got my flow right. I’ve got my writing skills right. I’m ready, dawg. The audience meets athlete/rappers with much skepticism. There haven’t been many good ones.

Joe Smith: I respect anybody that’s tried their hands in this game. It’s a tough business. Any athlete – whether its football, basketball, baseball or any other sport that has tried their hand in this game – I tip my hat to them. We all know what comes with the territory when we cross over that line into music as far as the skepticism and criticism is concerned. We have to have tough skin. Even though I’ve been doing this for so long, there have been guys that paved the way for me – like Shaq. Much respect to them. I really appreciate what they did to help other athletes cross over in to the music world. I was listening to a clip of yours, and in your lyrics, you were setting yourself apart from other athlete rappers. Do you really feel that you are better than others?

Joe Smith: That’s just a confidence thing, and I’m very confident in what I do. I take my time, and I really put my heart in to this game. It’s not a hobby or just something that I’m doing for fun. I love to do it, and I enjoy doing it. If anybody asks me if I’m better than someone else, obviously as a competitor from sports to entertainment, I’m going to say yes. I believe I have the music to back up what I say. Once the mixtape drops and we get everything out, then I will let everybody be the judge of it. Your moniker is Joe Beast. You’re aware that there is another rapper who used to be signed to Dr. Dre and Aftermath who uses that same name?

Joe Smith: Right. There is no conflict with that?

Joe Smith: There can’t be any conflict. I have all of the paperwork on that name. I’ve got legal paperwork and certification. No disrespect to him, because I respect everybody in this game, but I’ve got all of the proper paperwork for the name. I am Joe Beast. When is the project going to drop?

Joe Smith: It’s almost done. I have two to three more songs to finish, and then I have to go get it mixed. Maybe by the middle of October. Your teammate Metta World Peace a.k.a. Ron Artest also has his hands in the music business. Can you serve him on the mic?

Joe Smith: [laughter] Ron’s my guy. You don’t battle him? C’mon.

Joe Smith: We don’t battle. I was on his mixtape CD that dropped during the All-Star Weekend. We respect what each other does. We don’t get in the locker room, bus or airplane and try to battle rap each other. [laughter] We do interact for music a lot, but no battling. Let’s have your “Top 5 Rappers Dead or Alive.”

Joe Smith: Awww man, the Top 5? Does it have to be in any specific order? No.

Joe Smith: I would go with Biggie, Tupac, and Jay-Z. After that it gets tough. I grew up with Jadakiss. Man, he’s one of the most underrated artists. Weezy is doing his thing. Rick Ross and T.I are doing their things. It’s a tough question because there are so many. I’m a fan of music, so there are so many that can get honorable mentions. To me it sounds like Biggie, Pac and Jay are your Top 3 and everybody else falls in after that.

Joe Smith: Exactly. Which artists are your fantasy features for your album?

Joe Smith: Jay-Z and Lil Wayne. Those are my fantasy features. Ok, we’ll put that out there. [laughter]

Joe Smith: Please do! I need that. Jay or Wayne, if you’re reading this, make sure you holler at your boy Joe Smith a.k.a. Joe Beast! [laughter]

Follow Joe Smith on Twitter at @JoeBeast95 to keep up with his music and current news.