Dear Nola League,
NOLA League is a highly competitive two-day basketball tournament benefiting youth charities kicking off its inaugural event on July 2, 2016. Eight hand-selected teams composed of amateur and professional players will compete for the NOLA League Championship. The tournament will also include a special celebrity game, featuring top names in music, television and film. NOLA League was created to provide a constructive outlet for the local community by uniting at-risk youth, local athletes and professional players, both on and off the court, to build relationships in a fun and positive environment.
Wow, Saturday is almost here, I still remember about 8 months ago getting the call about what exactly you were. I remember thinking instantly, dang this can be huge, and not just become I’m a natural optimist, but because it seemed like you were the change that the city needed. I jumped on board A$AP. Thank you to DJ Shaad Smooth, a mutual friend of mine, and Alexis’ for introducing us, and sparking what has become one of the greatest friendships/partnerships that I have. You’ve changed my life Nola League. Lex, and I had a conversation about what I’ve gotten out of Nola League to date, and it’s mostly been connections, and my name getting bigger. You’ve placed me in rooms with people I’ve wanted to meet my entire career, and on the phone with legends, for that, I’ll forever be grateful. You’ve united a City that has long dwelled in hate, and segregation, but one weekend during Essence Fest is about to change the culture forever, that’s crazy. Nola League, what a journey it’s been, and since the world doesn’t know everything, hopefully they find out just a little in this letter.
Custom (A conversation with Lex Boogie)
Alexis Miller, the commissioner of NOLA League, one of my best friends, and one of the greatest business partners. Who is Alexis Miller? Imagine if Rihanna had to sometimes move her own tour equipment on the bus, or if every now and then she had to clean her own hotel room up. Of course she’s still gonna be Rih Rih, she’s still gonna look icy while she does it, she’s still gonna flex, but the humility of getting her hands dirty will keep her at bay. That’s Lex. Lex is super celebrity already, but she doesn’t mind doing her own dirty work either. Running you a list of everything she’s been willing to do during planning of Nola League would take forever, but just know. There’s been times where I couldn’t fulfill my assignment due to whatever reason, and she’s picked it up with no problem, as well as assignments of other people. That’s why I think that she’s such a bomb leader, never going to tell you to do something that she isn’t willing to do. Even when you think that she is haha.
Funny story, we were preparing to shoot the Nola League movie that Theron Cunningham directed, and I was in charge of contacting the cast. We were almost done casting when Lex suggested that we have a certain social media personality in the film. I didn’t mind, let’s get her. Well, this person was kind of hard to get in contact with, but not that hard to get in contact with, if you know what I mean, social media personalities. Lex was the original plug on getting to her, but after a few attempts, she delegated me to making the final push. After I emailed, and no response, I figured who cares, we’ll move on without. Lex calls me, “can you tweet ______ and ask her to be in the movie?” Not DM haha, not text, TWEET, like publicly on the TL. So I say, “absolutely not, I don’t feel comfortable doing that.” Click! I’m like, “aww man, Lex’s phone is tripping.” Tried to call back, declined! So now I’m really standing there with the, “I just got hung up on..” face. Lex, and I don’t speak for days, and we usually speak everyday. We had to be around each other twice in the days we weren’t speaking haha, awkward to say the least. But I remember going to Church on Sunday, and feeling amazing, then just calling Lex like, “are we good?” Then she hit me with a conversation that changed my life, the “Check your ego..” conversation, and I’ll forever be thankful for that. Lex, and I are always connected by God, it’s like we could tell you how each other feels about a situation before we even say it, I’m glad Shaad introduced us, and I’m glad to call her a friend. Custom!
NOLA League Performers (feat Lil Soulja Slim, AK, Paasky, Alfred Banks, Wade, Chase N’ Cashe, Daniel Heartless & Made Groceries)
People are always asking me what my involvement with you looks like, Nola League. Tell them to put some respek on my job description. But, if they must know. I hand-picked the artists that will be providing you with the sounds, with the help of a few other staffers. Honestly if you don’t mind, I’ll run through the list real quick and say a few words about everyone.
Lil Soulja Slim
You’re providing a stage for a seed of greatness. Lil Soulja Slim is a bold artist. Dawning the name that his father built up to iconic status can come with a lot of pressure, but he’s handled it well to this point. He’s going to bring that well handled pressure to your humongous stage. It takes confidence to perform in front of as many people who will be at Nola League ’16, but I honestly think that he can handle it. What can he take away from this performance? New fans. When they hear the name, and learn of the story, people will have no problem latching on, and joining Lil Soulja Slim on whatever journey he wants to take them on. I personally think that the rest of 2016, going into 2017 will be huge for him, as he’s setting up the right plays, and placing himself in the right venues.
There’s no secret now that AK may be one of The City’s Top 5 best spittas. Hailing from the Westbank, AK has used freestyles, and banging mixtapes to solidify a spot in a super saturated market. What will he bring to the Nola League stage? Appeal. Sometimes an artist can’t get their rocks off, because the crowd really doesn’t care about what they have to say. I think that AK commands attention instantly. And honestly, if you just listen for a few minutes, and realize that this dude is spitting craziness, you’re gonna leave with a new artist on your playlist, and that’s always a W. What can AK take away from Nola League ’16? One notch higher on the food chain. He can only go up from here.
I had a chance to meet Paasky at Da Take Over podcast, and once homie got to running it, and playing me some exclusives, I realized that it was time for him to blow up. After Lex, and I had a quick convo about Paasky following their interview, we pretty much decided on the spot that he should be added to the card. Paasky has so many notable hits, that anything he decides to perform will have the crowd grooving. If we see Kourtney Heart in the building though, then I know he’s about to take things over the top. What can Paasky leave Nola League ’16 with? He can generate new energy in The City for himself, and really set himself up to take charge again.
Right now, Alfred Banks is the man with the plan. After his VW commercial aired, and his tour did numbers, it’s looking like Alfred Banks is ready to take things into another realm. Performing at Nola League makes sense for both sides here, as both sides have so much to gain. Alfred Banks will bring a performance for the ages, no doubt, I mean he wins awards for his performances, and Nola League will perform a big stage that I know he desires. What I’m ready to see is all of the fans who didn’t know that he was so nice with the performances flood twitter with his Praises, and it’ll def be a win/win situation.
Every show Wade has had that I’ve attended, he’s killed. Every show Wade has had that I wasn’t able to make, someone has gone, and told me that he killed it. Homie was born for the stage, and I think he’s going to relish in the huge stage that Nola League will provide. When we did the Twitter Poll on which song Wade should perform, the votes went crazy, people were very tuned in. This shows that Wade’s fan base is only growing, and after thousands of people see him perform, I think that the fan tally will grow even more. Nola League will get one of The State’s most versatile artist, and songs will be added to libraries. Wade will get another chance to be heard, and that’s super important for him as this pivotal point in his career.
Chase N’ Cashe
What can I say about Chase N’ Cashe? Honestly, the guy represents what most of us are out here trying to achieve. Freedom in his creativity, and creating at a high level. A lot of people have freedom, because they haven’t reached a point where people want to control them yet. Chase, he’s at that point where people begin lobbying for control of your ideas, but he’s stayed true, and kept it super New Orleans, and super authentic. He’s bringing all of that to Nola League. He’s added a certain level of prestige to the event instantly, and that’s something that can’t be replaced. I think that Chase can leave Nola League ’16 with a sense of fulfillment. He’s the big homie to a lot of people involved, and with that comes responsibility, but with that responsibility comes clear rewards, rewards that I think he’s gonna get once Nola League proves to be a successful event. His contributions are invisible, and to me he can’t be thanked enough. Oh, his performance will be flames too, haha. And get the cameras ready, because who knows what gear he’ll pull out.
Humility. I didn’t know if within this paragraph I was going to find a place for that word, so I made sure I got it out of the way. You can say Daniel Heartless without humility. The humbleness to be presented with an offer before he even knows how big the event is going to be, shows the Faith Daniel had in Lex. I’m grateful for that. Daniel Heartless has been confirmed for Nola League for a minute, and I’ve been hype ever since. I know what he’s going to bring, energy, enthusiasm, charisma, and a whole bunch of people who already know the words to his songs. I think that Daniel has the potential to bring the city out, and when he does, he’s gonna give them a show like they’ve never seen before. Daniel, similar to Wade, will leave with one more chance to be heard. Important. Because right now, with those two artists, being heard is the only thing between them making it.
New Orleans’ best rap group take the stage yet again. Performing for them at this point is second nature, so it’s about to be a matter of which songs to fit into the set. I’m hoping its stuff off The Grocery Run, everything off of that has been flame so far. Made Groceries has changed the game up, and they’ve changed the culture in New Orleans. They’ve delivered real Hip Hop time after time, and I know that Nola League will be no different. I remember being around Lex when she first discovered Made Groceries, and seeing her instantly gravitate towards them, and them to her, let me know that it was mandatory for them to be on this stage. I’m glad it happened, and I’m honestly just going to be a fan during their performance. Create and Save.
A Perfect NOLA League
So if you were perfect? What would that mean, Nola League? Okay, if your commissioner had it her way, there would be a butt in every seat, Solange would come, Allen Iverson would pop up, Curren$y would get on the mic, and all the cool kids would be tweeting that Nola League was the best event they ever went to once it’s over. I think that all of those things can happen, but in addition, I think that you’re going to provide a place for all of The New New Orleans to be at the exact same time. What other event does this? There will be a chance for artists who never dreamed of cross promoting, to be able to pull from each other’s fan bases. There will be a fusion of elements combining, like no other hub has presented before. Fashion will meet culinary, culinary will meet sports, sports will meet music, all provided by you La Brudda, or Sister, this is Lex’s event. Black Girl Magic. But seriously, I’m excited to see all of these entities collide, and see the potential networking can happen.
Outro (What you mean to New Orleans)
I’m so glad Lex decided to name you Nola League. You represent The City so well. When Saturday comes, you’ll know why. Seeing the impact you’ve already had is amazing. A lot of planning has gone into you. I remember we were at SXSW in Austin, and ideas about you were flying around the room, ideas that were implemented the second we touched back down in New Orleans, that’s how important you were, and are. We’ve argued about you, laughed, plotted, schemed, and I’m privileged to have been apart of your come up. I’ve just been a bench player though, Lex has been Lebron. She’s recruited the best of the best to make sure you came to life, and now you’re here, just a few days away. For at least one weekend, The City will be provided with somewhere safe to go, and enjoy so many cultures that New Orleans has to offer, God Willing. This is for the youth. And although the tournament is one weekend this year, the first year, Nola League will get right back to work immediately to ensure that as a Non Profit entity, its providing the necessary outlets for youth to prosper in The City. What does Nola League mean to New Orleans? Everything. It means a breath of fresh air, it means a chance for expression, it means talents aren’t going to waste, it means that the culture of New Orleans has been changed forever.
God Bless, TheRadioShaq