Hov is the Mike Jordan of recordin’; Weezy spends entire tracks calling “Kobe;” the human heat check Drake channels his inner Lou Will out in public. But mainstream hip-hop watched silently as James Harden went from being wet like wonton soup to cursed by the supreme deity Lil B during the Western Conference Finals. No love for the MVP runner-up?
Bronx, NY’s Aston Rush balls like Harden without baiting for fouls. His latest single “James Harden” is an infectious anthem, complete with a buoyant beat and a snarling hook, but it also serves as the antidote to whatever the Based God cooked up. We’ve been bumping “James Harden” for a minute now, so it was only natural that we caught up with the up-and-coming rapper to talk about the Rockets star, these NBA Finals and a potential Matthew Dellavedova-themed sequel.
SLAM: Why did you make the song in honor of Harden specifically?
Aston Rush: I feel like he gets overlooked by a lot of people. The LeBrons, the Kevin Durants, the Kobe Bryants of the world get mentioned in songs all the time, but no one really name-drops James Harden. He’s underrated, and the way he carried the Rockets all season and took them to the Western Conference Finals was wild. Dwight Howard didn’t have a good year and he was hurt. It was Harden by himself in a league with a lot of super-teams.
SLAM: Has anyone in Harden’s camp hit you up about the video?
AR: Nah, I’ve tried to get in contact with them though. I’ve tried everything possible: I’ve been to sneaker signings, I’ve hit him up on Twitter and Instagram. No luck though.
SLAM: This song actually dropped before the Lil B curse blew up.
AR: The Lil B curse is hilarious, man. James Harden has been doing the cooking dance for a while. Not longer than Lil B of course, but he’s been doing it since the beginning of the season, if not earlier. Lil B never mentioned it until now. He cursed him when the Rockets were already down a few games to the Warriors. It felt cheap to me.
SLAM: Do you root for Harden and the Rockets? As a New Yorker, you probably didn’t enjoy many Knicks games this year.
AR: Nah, the Knicks had a terrible season. I watched a lot of Warriors and Rockets games, and I really liked the Hawks this year. I watch fun teams.
SLAM: Who you got in these Finals?
AR: The Warriors are looking good but I can’t bet against The King. I just can’t go against him. Stephen Curry is the MVP but LeBron is the best player in the world. To be in the Finals five straight years on different teams, especially this year’s team without Kyrie and Kevin Love, it’s just so impressive. What he’s doing with Shumpert and JR Smith and Dellavedova—he’s making Dellavedova look like an amazing player!
SLAM: We’re expecting that Delly tribute song next from you, then.
AR: [Laughs] That’ll be my next joint. Hopefully he continues to progress next year. He could actually be a great player to watch. They love this dude out in Cleveland. Today I was on Instagram and I saw a Matthew Dellavedova 2K16 cover. I should make this song before he gets real big soon. He plays hard and he’s doing a great job on Steph.
SLAM: New York basketball and hip-hop culture are of course linked together. NY was the Mecca of both for a while, but as of late, both scenes have lost a lot of the dominance they were known for.
AR: A lot of New York rappers and ball players are underrated. We have the A$AP Rockys and the Joey Bada$$es and all them, but so many of us are underappreciated because right now everyone’s focused on the West Coast and Atlanta. People want that DJ Mustard sound or the Young Thug/Rich Homie Quan sound. New York still has a lot of great artists, but even our own city would rather look out of state. I’m not hating on anyone, and the artists I named make great music, but New York artists need the attention we deserve in my opinion. I hear a lot of New York artists that are dope but they’re not as big as the independent artists in Atlanta or LA or Chicago. We don’t get any local buzz in our own city. We actually have to move elsewhere for New York people to show love. The tables are turned, because you used to have to move to New York to get a career going. But I’m from New York and I’d love to stay here and get the New York independent scene back up buzzing.
SLAM: What about getting the New York hoops back buzzing?
AR: I believe in Phil Jackson, man. But if Melo isn’t healthy and he doesn’t get a lot of help, I don’t see anything happening with the Knicks for a while. And the Nets are pretty good but I just feel like they’re so old and injury prone. Deron Williams isn’t the same; Brook Lopez is coming off an injury; Joe Johnson had a bad season. The Nets have no youth to really give it a shot going forward. I go with the Knicks over the Nets.
SLAM: Do you ball yourself?
AR: Yeah I played in high school and college. I went to a JuCo called Globe Tech. I was a point guard, a Steph Curry-type that used to shoot a lot of threes. Now I ball for fun to break a sweat or talk some trash.
SLAM: Or to go against a dude in a banana suit, like at the end of the “James Harden” video?
AR: I had to make the video fun. I wanted to bring out some comedy and not make it all so serious. I’m picking on a little kid and blocking his shot, so then a guy in a banana suit is embarassing me. It brought some excitement out of the record. It’s a funny video; I’m doing jumping jacks with girls, there’s the chef scene. Every rapper is so serious now, and they don’t have a lot of fun with their videos.
For more from Aston, follow him on Twitter.