Under the Armour: Reloaded
A Q+A with Brandon Jennings and director of the Under the Armour series Sir Fleming.
SLAM:As far as the music, since that’s such a huge part of the series, is that more of an extension of your own personal tastes?
BJ: We only used a few artists during the series—guys like Meek Mill, The Weeknd, Drake, The Game, my homeboy Bow Wow. There’s a couple artists that I know personally and I like to put their music on there. Plus, the music went with the video and fit everything that was going on. That’s all Sir making it work. Once he gets into a zone he starts coming up with crazy ideas, so much respect to that man.
SF: That was something we were playing around with before we even started the first episode. I was having a small conversation with Brandon and listening to music and going through his iPod and figuring out what he liked. I thought it would be interesting to play atypical hip-hop instead of just doing a cliche Jay-Z song. We wanted to create our own lane with the series and we thought music was a good place to show a different dynamic to who Brandon is. He’s always this guy that’s trying to be extra different and we’re trying to show that through music.
SLAM: It didn’t feel forced at all and I think that goes back to the spontaneity of the whole thing and the raw feeling that comes across…
SF: We just picked the right tracks that fit the moment. You can just tell by his personality that the music fit him…The mixtape guys are hungry and so is Brandon. He wants to be an All-Star and win a Championship, he’s still like a mixtape artist in the game. He’s lightweight accepted, like a Meek Mill. Everyone’s buzzin’ about him, but he’s yet to drop a major album that does well but he’s still getting love and that’s exactly where we feel Brandon is so we don’t want to step outside of that with the music.
SLAM: A lot of other players have their own web series, do you guys feel like you started the trend?
BJ: Nate Robinson has one, KD had 35th Hour and Terrance Williams has one as well. Everyone did their own, but to this day I still feel like we have the best one. I think we give everybody a little bit more. I actually showed you what NBA players do in life instead of just showing me working out, getting something to eat, chillin’ with my boys and that’s it. This is who I am and this is my world and this is what I do on a daily basis.
SF: I feel like we set the trend as far as people wanting to do motivational videos to show their lifestyle. But the idea of doing it had already been out, guys had already been capturing their lives for a while on YouTube. The thing I did notice was the trend we were setting by the different mixtapes and artists we were using. Most guys who were putting these series out, they were just using big name tracks. But people wanted to really know what the players were listening to and we didn’t shy away from showing exactly what Brandon was listening to…I feel like when you do something you’re so passionate about, you reach the people in a different way.
SLAM: You guys were just out in China, right?
BJ: Yeah, I was out there with Gary Payton, DeMar DeRozan and Horace Grant. It was cool. We did a lot of stuff off the court and I got to play some streetball while I was there. Most of the time, I was coaching in celebrity games or doing stuff in the community with the rest of the guys so we got a bunch of great footage off the court. Sir got some great footage and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with now. Once he gets into that zone, he has all these ideas.
SF: It was crazy. They were on a bus a lot doing traveling and events so they didn’t get much of a chance to hang out and chill. They did get a chance to walk the streets here and there but they were so crowded with so much NBA stuff that they didn’t get to meet a lot of the people. They needed security every time they stepped out of the building so they couldn’t just go and roam around without security.
Brandon did play with the guys out on the streetball court and that was really interesting. Right when he hit the court, everyone knew who he was, they warmed up to him and he went out and did his thing. He did a little photo shoot out there at this ancient place. People recognized him and followed him around the whole photo shoot; we had 10-15 people trailing us everywhere we went. It was weird because he was able to warm up to people even though he didn’t know the language–that’s the most interesting part about Brandon. Yeah, I thought I knew him because he was around his friends and fans but when you see him around people that don’t speak the same language and he was still able to get his sense of humor across. He’s not the quiet, typical guy that would probably just shy away from that, he was playing along with everyone.
SLAM: Brandon, will you be playing a lot of basketball again this off-season?
BJ: I’m going to be playing a lot this summer. I plan on playing at the Drew League this year, I want to go back to Dyckman and I really want to play in Philly this year since I didn’t get a chance to play there last year. I want to play in Philly, New York, LA and Baltimore.
SLAM: What can fans expect from Season Two?
SF: People saw Brandon working out last year and really focused, this year people are going to see how much fun he likes to have and a little more of his personality. I mean, it’s still going to be motivational because he’s working out and always playing ball, but it’s really getting to know Brandon in the second season. If you liked the first season, you’re definitely going to like this season.
We’re shooting on different lenses, it will still have that raw feeling to it but it will look a little cleaner. This year is bigger and better because now that Brandon and I are closer, we’re really going to be giving fans exclusive access. Last season, there were certain times when I wasn’t with him but we’ve been together all the time so far this off-season. The title of each episode is something we’re taking a lot of focus too as far as making things creative and different—there’s going to be a lot of interesting titles for the episodes this season; we’re always looking to do something different.
BJ: We had a Fourth of July party which was crazy—I’m had a ‘90s party out in Cali. I’ll be with my son, which will be cool since he’s talking now. My crew—AIS Dead Fresh Crew‚is more established so you’ll be seeing more of us now. And me, I’ll just be working out and traveling and playing streetball around the country. This year is going to be bigger and better.