UPDATE—Damian Lillard, aka Dame D.O.L.L.A., released a four-track mixtape, Live from the Bubble, on Soundcloud on August 15, 2020, comprised of material recorded while inside the NBA Bubble. Go to the end of this article to hear it.
The NBA is back in action despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with 22 teams living and playing within ‘The Bubble’ of Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex as they complete their season. Living in lockdown has left some with little to do other than play, but five-time NBA all-star Damian Lillard has been putting his downtime to good use, recording in his hotel. Waxing lyrical is not a new passion for the Portland Trailblazers point guard, who has recorded as rapper Dame D.O.L.L.A. for some time.
Now, having posted a photo of his mobile recording set up on Instagram, we can take a look at what he’s using to capture those tracks inside The Bubble.
Capturing Lillard’s flow is a Telefunken-Elektroakustik ELA M 251E large-diaphragm tube condenser mic—not an impulse purchase at $9,495 list price, but given that he’s expected to make just shy of $30 million this year, he can probably afford it. That mic is perched atop a Gator FrameWorks GFW-MIC-0821 compact base bass drum and amp mic stand.
Next stop is the Universal Audio Apollo x4 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface, which in turn is sending everything to Avid Pro Tools on an Apple MacBook Pro. Keeping that laptop connected to something via a Cat 5 cable—let’s guess it’s hotel internet—is a J5Create JCD383 USB-C multi adapter.
Last and realistically least, the hard-to-see headphones leaning against the Apollo x4 aren’t high-end cans but rather a Sony PlayStation platinum wireless headset—which means Lillard is probably games for fun when he’s not, you know, playing games for a living. On the other hand, it’s always a good idea to hear your tracks the same way the eventual listener is going to, so having a set of down-to-earth consumer ‘phones around isn’t a bad idea actually.
Those headphones are crucial, however, as he pointed out to the Associated Press, noting, “I saw people saying that there would be complaints of him recording music, but I don’t have any speakers. Everything is in the headphone speakers. I’m rapping out loud, but not screaming to the top of my lungs. Nobody is going to hear me rapping.”
Perhaps neighbors won’t hear him rapping in his hotel, but more and more people are hearing him in the outside world. Hip-hop is more than just a hobby for Lillard, who aspires to have dual careers in basketball and music, much as actor Donald Glover has a separate occupation as Grammy-winning rapper Childish Gambino. June saw Lillard drop two tracks—“Goat Spirit” with Raphael Saadiq, and “Blacklist”—while July found him releasing “Home Team.” He’s also worked with the likes of 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne in the past, the latter of whom he performed with during this year’s NBA All-Star weekend. With NBA players not allowed outside The Bubble until their season ends, who knows how many tracks Dame D.O.L.L.A. may leave Disney with?