Ron Artest, the questionably sane Lakers guard who recently helped his team defeat the Celtics in the NBA finals, is riding high off his success, taking to the recording booth and the stage to celebrate his triumphant victory and opulent lifestyle. Artest, known primarily for his role in the legendary Pacers-Pistons brawl (aka "The Malice in the Palace") and his exceedingly bizarre behavior, likes to rap in his free time. As such, he appeared on Lopez Tonight to perform new song "Champion" with his crew, the Worldwide Warriors.
You can't really understand the greatness of the song, however, without being conscious of it's place in Artest's oeuvre &mdash "Champion", to say the least, doesn't exist in a vacuum. I first became aware of Artest's musical ambitions last year when my friend, still mourning the loss of the King of Pop, played me a song that helped her come to terms with his death &mdash Artest's "Michael, Michael" (which contains the cathartic closing words: "even though I'm always strapped/I put down the MAC for M. Jack"). It really showcases the basic tenets of Artest's style: a simple, straightforward flow over no-nonsense beats, elevated by an irrepressible, wide-eyed earnestness.
Sometime after this, Artest released the heartfelt "Afghan Women". The song is, at once, an appeal to Afghan men to treat their wives, sisters, and daughters better ("take your hands off her/show her love") and a plea for said women to let Artest caress them and treat them with the respect they deserve. In regards to the Afghan men he is quick to qualify his reproaches ("Now I know it's not all y'all who be treating these women wrong"). He shows a flare for the topical and, like his hero M. Jack, a belief in the transformative power of music. At heart, Artest is an idealist.
Which brings us to his latest, the aforementioned "Champion" and, to be honest, it speaks for itself. The one thing I will say is that this is the first song he's made that I could actually imagine hearing on the radio. So he's improving! Or radio is getting worse. You be the judge:
Sidenote: read the Wiki entry on Artest's controversies. Dude has done some weird sh*t. My personal favorite: "During his rookie season in Chicago, he was criticized for applying for a job at Circuit City in order to get an employee discount." - ben krusling