ATLANTA — Jabari Parker is a Hawk.
The 24-year-old, five-year NBA veteran has found himself in the fourth NBA city and the modern-day capital of hip-hop.
“Music is very big [to me],” Parker said at Media Day on Sept. 30. “It’s the thing that I listen to every day and it pretty much revolves around everything I do. I have to listen to music.”
The Mac Miller story
Although he’s all-but-gone completely off of the radar on social media in the past year, Parker made an emotional Instagram post following the death of Malcolm McCormick, better known as Pittsburgh-based rapper Mac Miller.
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DAMN MAC. I’m hurt. And the crazy thing is, I don’t even take pictures with my hero’s because the memory is more important than the canvas. But this particular day I had to. This day I wasn’t even suppose to be there. But as soon as my boy told me your whereabouts, I rushed over to holla at you. “Huge fan MAC”. Always will be your fan. RIP brother, one of the greatest to do it!
Parker was in Los Angeles with a few friends at the tail end of the 2018 offseason.
“I don’t really go to L.A. It’s not really a place where I go out,” Parker said. “I go to the Bay because a lot of my family stays there. My guys and I go [to L.A.] and they’re doing their thing, I’m staying in the hotel in Santa Monica.”
Parker’s friends invited him to come out to J. Cole’s KOD show at Staples Center, which was in town on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25. Parker politely declined the initial invite.
“I was like ‘alright, y’all,’” Parker said. “‘Do y’all thing.’”
About 10 minutes after the show, his friends go backstage in the VIP area and hit up Parker once more.
“They say ‘hey, Mac Miller’s here,’” Parker said. “I’m a huge Mac Miller fan. So I get from where I’m at, I drive 30 minutes to go to Staples, I get into the arena, get backstage and I meet him. I really tell him- I’m not a prideful guy, so it didn’t take much to show him my support.”
Parker then told McCormick how big of a fan he was of his music, and he still recalls how surprised the rapper reacted to Parker’s compliments.
“He was like, ‘man, that’s what’s up,’” Parker said. “‘I didn’t know NBA players listened to my music.’”
Parker said that an excited McCormick called over one of his friends to collect $100 from him because they allegedly made a bet on whether or not NBA players listened to his music.
After delivering an “I told you!” to his friend, McCormick took a picture with Parker and his friends.
McCormick was found dead in his L.A. home about two weeks later. He was 26 years old.
“People tried to give their assessment and say lies like ‘he was unhappy, he committed suicide,’ but that was far from true,” Parker said. “He was happy, he was rocking, he was doing his thing. That was just a tragedy. He was in a good place when I met him for the first time.”
McCormick’s impact was felt greatly throughout the hip-hop community, especially in Parker’s mid-20s age demographic. Parker was a 15-year-old 10th grader when McCormick’s breakout project “K.I.D.S.” went live on DatPiff, a popular mixtape-downloading site. Parker was in high school as McCormick gained notoriety with several viral music videos accompanied by singles that fully-embraced the party lifestyle of teens in America.
In Parker’s lone year at Duke, McCormick grew older and began to change his tone to a much darker one with lyrics perhaps more conscious than the underage drinking bars that were affiliated with him earlier in his career. As McCormick’s lyric-ability grew, seemingly his mainstream appeal decreased, hints the reason why he may have acted so surprised when Parker shared his appreciation for his work. While the celebrity of McCormick was still extremely strong, his music was considered a bit “underground” compared to his fellow hip-hop stars who shared his level of fame.
Parker, who named Rapsody’s “Eve” and Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s “Bandana” as the two best projects of the summer, has always been one not to follow what most of his peers always have in the music realm.
Growing up, my peers 'tried' to put me on the upcoming rappers in the chi. All I heard back then,shoot em up. Now=put down the guns. #irony— Jabari Parker (@JabariParker) October 14, 2015
But I don't support gun violence, gang violence, and the music behind the movement. and yes, the music does have an influence. #Inverwasafan— Jabari Parker (@JabariParker) October 14, 2015
‘Balling like Jabari Parker, they say I look like him’
Parker has been tabbed basketball’s six-foot-eight Donald Glover doppelgänger for years now.
“I got that actually in my junior year of high school,” Parker said. “He was doing comedy and acting at that time. That was super early on, but I’m a huge Childish Gambino fan. I watch his TV show, I listen to all of his music. I’m proud that I look like him, you know?”
In 2014, Glover escalated the online comparisons by acknowledging them on the 2014 track “Late Night in Kaui” featuring Jaden Smith.
Balling like Jabari Parker, they say I look like him
If we met, bet it would be awkward break out the Sudafed
“Yeah, my boy actually told me,” Parker said of when he found out about the shout out. “I was like, ‘man. He’s doing that?’ The album before that was big, ‘Because the Internet,’ so it was huge.”
Glover and Parker have never actually met, but now playing in the same city his award-winning show “Atlanta” films in, Parker said that he wouldn’t be opposed to receiving an invite to join the likes of Michael Vick, Katt Williams and Migos to make an uncanny cameo on the series.
“If he did give me the chance and opportunity, I’d take it,” Parker said. “I’m not some superstar, I’m really low-key, but stuff like that I don’t take for granted.”