The Pre-Game Songs That Send Matt Barnes Soaring

Jan 18, 2012
Originally published on January 31, 2012 10:15 pm

Language Advisory: The songs linked to in this article contain lyrics that some listeners may find offensive.

As many people head back to the gym this month, we're doing our part to help with The Ultimate NPR Workout Mix.

We're asking people what songs make them move, and it turns out music is just as important for motivating professional athletes as it is for the rest of us. We caught up with Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes after a recent practice --he says that before games, it's all about one rapper.

"I'm listening to 2Pac the whole time," Barnes says. "While I'm getting treatment, while I'm stretching, I'm listening to music. With 2Pac you can't go wrong."

Barnes has played for eight different NBA teams in his nine years in the league. Last year, injuries kept him out of much of his first season with the Lakers, but now his team has finally named him a starter. It's not surprising many of his music picks — such as 2Pac's "Secretz of War" — are about overcoming adversity.

"He's talking about, either you're with us or against us," Barnes says of the song. "That's the kind of music that I listen to before games to get me going. It's us against the world when you step out on that court."

Barnes' picks includes two more 2Pac classics: "Hold Ya Head" and "Against All Odds."

"You know," he explains, "because everyone's really counted our team out."

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

By this time in the month, many people are back in the gym trying to take off the pounds they put on over the holidays, and we're doing our part to help with the ultimate NPR workout mix. We're asking people what songs make them move. And it turns out music is just as important for motivating professional athletes as it is for anybody else.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASKETBALL COURT)

INSKEEP: We caught up with L.A. Lakers forward Matt Barnes after a recent practice. He said before games it's all about one rapper.

MATT BARNES: I listen to Tupac the whole time. So on the car ride in, you know, take my same iPod, put my headphones in, walk to the locker room, while I'm getting treatment, while I'm stretching I'm listening to the music. You know, with Tupac you can't go wrong.

INSKEEP: And Barnes tries to go right with Tupac's "Secretz of War."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SECRETZ OF WAR")

TUPAC: (Singing) With my mask on. Do it for profit, plus I'm looking for (unintelligible) if you ain't screaming west side, you can get the - I'm seeing demons, got me hearing screaming, scared to go sleep, watch the scene like a dope fiend.

INSKEEP: Barnes has played for eight different NBA teams in his nine years in the league. Last year, injuries kept him out of much of his first season with the Lakers, but now his team has finally named him a starter. It's not surprising that many of his music picks are about overcoming adversity.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SECRETZ OF WAR")

TUPAC: (Singing) You ride with us or collide with us. Look, it's as simple as that for and my...

BARNES: "Secretz of War," it's about, you know, you either ride with our team or you collide with our team. So, basically, he's talking about either you're with us or against us. And that's the kind of music I listen to before games really to get me going. You know, it's us against the world when you step out on that court.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOLD YA HEAD")

TUPAC: (Singing) If I die, do the same for me, shed no tear. An outlaw thug living in this game for years. Why worry, hope to God, get me high when I'm buried, knowing deep inside only a few love me, come rush me to the gates of heaven...

INSKEEP: Matt Barnes gave us another pick for working out - it's another Tupac classic, "Hold Ya Head."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOLD YA HEAD")

TUPAC: (Singing) How do we outlast, always get cash, stay strong if we all mash, hold ya head...

INSKEEP: And you can find the ultimate NPR workout mix at NPRMusic.org. We remind you that it's a work in progress, so we still invite you to weigh in with your picks. And before we let Matt Barnes go, we asked if he could choose one workout song for all of his Laker teammates. He hesitated a bit before answering.

BARNES: Maybe "Against All Odds" this year by Tupac because, you know, everyone's really counted our team out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AGAINST ALL ODDS")

TUPAC: (Singing) Against all odds, hoping my thugs - know. This be the realest - I ever wrote. Against all odds, up in the studio, getting blowed, to the truest - I ever smoked. Against all odds, hoping my true - know, this be the realest – I ever wrote. I heard he was light skinned, stocky with a Haitian accent, jewelry, fast cars and he's known for flashing. What's his name? Listen while I take you back - and lace this rap, a real live tale about a snitch named Haitian Jack. Knew he was working for the Feds, same crime...

INSKEEP: Work it. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.