SOMETHING WONDERFUL and unprecedented has happened: Now that the NBA season is good and over, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has decided to do his first full-blown concert in celebration of his 26th birthday.
Onstage Lillard's known as Dame D.O.L.L.A.—an acronym for "Different on Levels the Lord Allows." Unlike the overwhelming majority of new artists, this Friday Dame will play his very first show to a sold-out crowd at the Crystal Ballroom. According to Dame's cousin, local rapper Brookfield Duece (who'll be opening the show), the event sold out in about two and a half hours.
Before you start hating, consider the fact that Lillard's been impressively active on SoundCloud, where he's released a slew of new tracks for several Music Mondays, including "Ready for It" with Duece and "Stay Schemin'," which was released on the Fourth of July. He's also widely appreciated for spotlighting up-and-coming emcees and supporting the local and international hip-hop scenes.
But so far the only time we've seen Dame take the mic live has been during his cameos at local hip-hop shows where he's performed a couple verses during Duece's sets. He proved his chops on Sway in the Morning, after which he was deemed "the best rapper in the NBA," which, to be fair, isn't that difficult of a feat, but it's still true nonetheless. And unlike so many other NBA rappers before him (Shaq, Kobe, Kevin Durant...), I actually take Dame seriously.
Lillard has relied on social media to tease upcoming projects (including a forthcoming mixtape), saying no to all interviews or TV spots about his musical endeavors. After the show's sell-out, Dame took to Twitter to explain that he intended to make the show an 18-and-older event, but it was sold as all ages. He courteously warned parents of the use of strong language during the show. "Some of the artists opening for me have strong lyrics in some of their songs," he wrote. "I just want to give parents that intended on bringing their kids a heads up about that."
Dame's raps, however, are squeaky clean and family friendly; I'm not mad at it. The double-threat star can be the Will Smith of Portland music for all I care, especially since the messages of his music are much more stomachable than some other local artists who rest on tired lyrics that tout "fuck your bitch" and "smoking heavy" sentiments.
Dame D.O.L.L.A. has also taken a stance on the recent cop shootings, and Duece says Lillard's looking into ways to bring attention to the matter. Even if his rap career is just for fun, as he points out in his recently released "Isley," it's nice to see our biggest local celebrity use his platform and status to elevate important issues and shine light on new talent.
If you're just now finding out about the show and are curious to see Dame D.O.L.L.A. spend his 26th birthday trying his hand at live performance, TOO BAD. And if you're Dame's biggest fan? Best get your booty on StubHub, where you can purchase a ticket for around $100. (Full disclosure, this ticket originally cost about $20. But do what makes you happy!)