by Tzvi Twersky | @ttwersky

“AI’s people rock with the record,” Don Trip says proudly. “He actually appreciated it.”

Don Trip, a burgeoning rapper who was granted a coveted position in XXL‘s 2012 Freshman class is talking about Allen Iverson, the NBA legend. And he’s talking about “Allen Iverson,” the recently released single off his new mixtape, Guerrilla.

Published a little over a month ago, “Allen Iverson” was welcomed to the musicsphere with a warm reception—from hip-hop fans, Allen Iverson fans and AI himself—a rarity for basketball-inspired songs. What sets it apart from run of the mill, use-a-celebrity’s-name-to-push-a-track, record is twofold:  (1) Trip’s southern flow and honest and on-point rhymes; and (2) and the snippets of multiple Iverson press conferences from over the years that producers Cool & Dre laced into the track.

Buoyed by the subject matter, Cool & Dre’s boardwork and Don Trip’s boothwork, SLAM caught up with Trip to discuss his ear-pleasing, heart-tugging, AI-approved handiwork.

Don Trip, on how the record came into existence: “One day, when I first met Cool & Dre, we were discussing the people that I look up to and the people that I admired growing up, and Allen Iverson was one of the main people. From that, we had a couple discussions, and we ended up talking about the ‘Practice’ interview. One day we were like, ‘that’d be a good look to do a track that way.’

“Then, probably about two months back, [Cool & Dre] sent me the record with the interviews already inserted. Once I heard the interviews, I knew which direction I wanted to take it. I wanted to show people how similar AI’s story is to pretty much anybody that’s trying to come up out the hood.”

Don Trip, on peoples’ reactions to it: “When I first heard it, I thought that anybody who’s ever been an Allen Iverson fan would—I felt like each interview was gonna take you back to that moment, and people were going to know exactly where I was coming from when they heard the verse that followed each interview.

“I think it just reminded people that they were fans of Allen Iverson. We put the song out during the XXL [Freshmen photo]shoot, actually. We started shooting at like 8 in the morning and we wrapped at like 10 at night, and the song was getting traction all the way through.”

Don Trip, on Trip, Allen Iverson and judgment: “I’ma do what I do. I just want to make sure that people remember that I’m human all the way through it. No matter what, it’s impossible not to make mistakes. And if you make a mistake at a certain point in your career, when you have all eyes on you, they crucify you for it as if you’re not human, as if you’re not entitled to make mistakes because you’ve acquired fame. That’s the last thing I want people to think. So I’m gonna move how I move and hopefully they keep in mind that I am human.”

Don Trip, on shooting a video for “Allen Iverson”: “I’m trying to shoot the video with AI. We’re just trying to lock down a date.

“AI’s people rock with the record. He’s cool with it; he actually appreciated it, so that’s a good look and an accomplishment for me. I felt like, If I’m gonna do the video for the record, it’s only right to have him in it.

“[Meeting him] will mean a lot to me. That would actually be the first person I met that I looked up to growing up. That’s a great achievement.”