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Ron Artest's 'Champion' earns encouraging reviews from music industry

June 29, 2010 |  7:34 pm

With numerous entertainment celebrities on hand for Magic Johnson's party last week at Trousdale Lounge in West Hollywood to celebrate the Lakers' title, the biggest question on my mind involved Ron Artest.

He's been the talk of the town since the Lakers clinched their 16th championship, with his memorable postgame news conference and his rap single, "Champion."Being a hip- hop fan myself, I appreciated Artest's originality, voice and production from Dr. Dre -- a stark contrast than say Shaquille O'Neal's effort. I actually forced myself when I was younger to say Shaq-Fu: Da Return was a classic, but I think it was just wishful thinking.

Fortunately, there were plenty on hand to lend Artest support. Dre wasn't in attendance to detail what it was like working with Artest, but at least his son Curtis was. Beyond being interested in Curtis' revelation that Artest worked with him on a few unreleased songs, I selfishly wanted to know when "Detox" would come out. With the release date of Dre's long-awaited album being far from definitive, I began posting on Facebook last year a song he produced each day and show that by the time I completed posting all his songs, the album still wouldn't come out. When I shared with Curtis what I did, he replied, "That's crazy. He's got a big archive. It's just ready to drop. He may as well drop the 'Detox.' We want 'Detox,' pops." Unfortunately, everyone will have to wait. Curtis predicted the album will come out this year, but he didn't sound too certain.

Master P lauded Artest for being "creative," but it appeared that most of the artists credited Artest for his effort and enthusiasm moreso than his actual skill-set. But that doesn't mean Artest is a bust. It's just that he has more work to do. Case in point, Rashad McCants made it a point to say "he's a better rapper," and even suggested Shannon Brown would be the team's best free styler. Master P and Romeo disagreed, saying Artest wins the bill hands down. Romeoeven cracked that Artest didn't have much competition, bringing up Sasha Vujacic's name to illustrate his point.

But when I asked the three to bust out a free-style on the Lakers' winning a title, they politely refused. When I told the video would appear on Youtube and give him exposure, Master P laughed and said, "Exposure? That ain't enough." Romeo then suggested we should pay them, prompting business reporter and cameraman Nathan Olivarez-Giles to jokingly offer $60. "I'm heartbroken," Romeo said, laughing. "$60 for a free-style?!"

R&B Singer Brian McKnight wouldn't offer a critique, saying that rappers would have a better insight. When I reminded him that R&B has crossed over into hip hop, he answered, "These days. I'm old school. I can't believe I said that."

As far as who would be a good R&B singer on the Lakers?

"Kobe because he's smooth and he's right there and doesn't let anything affect him," McKnight said. "That's the great thing about him. But he'd have to be able to sing. That's the thing. Singing is different than just talking."

--Mark Medina

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