Interview Lifestyle Music

Riding The Beat: A D1 Basketball Player’s Fast Break To Music

The saxophones roar through the room, blast out the window and shake the ground.  

It sounded like Mike Will drove down Superior Street – just a block east from the California State University, Northridge dorms.  

But Big Sean wasn’t going to talk about paradise anytime soon that afternoon.  

Instead, it was a demo that recent CSUN grad and NCAA Division I point guard Landon Drew created a few nights before.  

“A lot of people ask me what sound I’m going for or what direction and, I feel like with music, you’re going to have direction with it, but, again, it’s just so open that you just see where it takes you,” Drew said.

Drew attended CSUN for all four years and played basketball all his life. Since finishing up school, Drew has put more emphasis on music life to go along with some recreational basketball.  

But it’s a decision he’s had to make at a transitional point in his life, switching it up from creating plays on the court to creating sounds on a keyboard.

“There’s just something about the lifestyle I was living,” Drew said. “I just wanted something that flowed a little bit more and I took the challenge of just making beats to see what happens through that.”

It’s the repetition of sports that influenced his decision.

“With music, it’s just something more open, and, just where I’m at right now, just see where it goes.

“It makes it more of a challenge, but at the same time, I don’t see it as [extra] pressure or anything. It’s all for the fun of it,” Drew concluded.

 

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Drew grew up in the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. He finished high school at Fairfax and played ball there. His family is kind of a basketball dynasty.  

His father, Larry Drew, is currently the assistant coach to the Cleveland Cavaliers — the 2016 NBA Champions. The patriarch of the family also played in various NBA teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.  

His older brother, Larry Drew II, won the 2009 National Championship with the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team — the team that Michael Jordan played for.  

Younger brother Lindsey Drew, also played at Fairfax High, just like Landon did and is currently playing for another Division I team, the University of Nevada, Reno.

Needless to say, ball is life. But with ball comes music.

His mom constantly bumped great soul and funk, notably some Parliament. His dad, while flying around from stadium to stadium, would warm up with some tunes in the background.

“There were no musicians in the family, but my [older] brother recited a rap for his graduation, “ Drew said. “Seeing that and taking the risk and just doing it, I remember parties back then I’d used to beatbox and everything.  

But back to his music.

 

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The only thing reminiscent of Mike Will were the baritone saxes, actually. The intro reminds listeners of a little bit of Kid Cudi. But when the sharp but smoothly distorted guitar kicks in, it’s a Landon Drew production.

“I think my sound alone [is different],” he said. “There has been times I’ve tried imitating sounds or I’ll hear something and I’ll try to do it, but whatever sound I create, it’s whatever I can do. I just think anything I will create will be different alone.”

Truth is, music wasn’t always something Drew made a priority, but it’s not to say it has been an integral part of his life.  

“Music has been something I’ve been focusing on since I was younger,” Drew said. “Even the production aspect of it and just the beats. That’s just one of the things that has [captivated] me a little more [recently].”

As a high school junior, Drew stumbled upon Kid Cudi, one of his favorite artists to date. Cudi’s message and sound was brand new to the point guard’s ears and had him hooked.

“I remember I was talking to my ex at the time and came an epiphany, like if I could produce for Cudi, or just producing in general, just go for it.”

That’s when things started to get interesting for Drew.

He was still playing basketball, in fact he was named first-team All-Los Angeles City selection when he attended Fairfax High.

But with a laptop at hand, he started penning to paper – well, not really. Next thing he knew, he had all the gear he needed to make some solid sounds – most of it acquired through investments, and of course, good ol’ mom.  

Like most kids though, Drew found music as a hobby. He focused more on the sport he loved, and it wasn’t until the end of sophomore year of college that he started taking things more seriously with music.  

“I’m taking a break with it, I remember when I stopped, a lot of people were like ‘did you quit’ or ‘are you done?’” Drew said. “It’s just for the time being. Even right now, I’m still chilling with it because I’ve been doing it my whole life, but it’s still there. I’ll still play pick up now and then.”

So, maybe ball isn’t life.    

“I still find the joy in it, the same joy I find it [when] I played at CSUN,” Drew said. “I still respect the sport and love it. I have options – I just want to see what music does and where it takes me.”  

His home in Encino houses all of his basketball awards and paraphernalia. It’s practically a shrine.

But in his apartment in Northridge, it’s a little different.  

There’s a huge framed and signed picture of Kurt Cobain on the floor upon entering his room.  

There are a few records posted in a small shelf.

Haim. The Weeknd. Kanye.

 

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Of course, he has two Kid Cudi records and a poster of the Cleveland native hanging by his lamp.  

The only basketball items sit beneath his TV: his CSUN basketball backpack and a copy of NBA 2K16.   

“It gets competitive in here,” he promised. “You know how it is [with 2K].”

Other than that, it’s very open to do plenty of activities.

His production setup is stationed right by the edge of his bed and right by a window overlooking the street.

To no surprise, there’s a paper-sized photo collage of Kid Cudi that overlooks the desk.

His music setup includes a 21-inch iMac, with a Maschine MIDI board to his left and

a small set of keys to his right. Subwoofers are set at the edge of his table.

This isn’t what you’d think a Division 1 basketball player would have in his room.  

In the end, if music doesn’t work out for him, he can always fall back on his family for support.

 

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“Even with the ties I have with my dad, if in the future, I can still try out for a team even if I wanted to,” he said.  

If all else fails, he’s thought about coaching.

“It’s in the blood, you know,” he said. “The IQ of the game is still there.”  

Regardless, anything can change.

A year ago, Drew set his sights on a professional basketball run, but now, he’s set his sights on music – only time will tell.  

“I just take it like something that moves me,” Drew said. “Music just moves people and I like that about it.”

“Hopefully it takes me somewhere. Not sure where, but I just want to keep creating.”

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