23 April 2024
Entertainment Music

Flau’Jae Johnson Received a Basketball Title, Then Teamed Up With Lil Wayne

When Flau’jae Johnson helped lead the Louisiana State College ladies’s basketball crew to a nationwide championship final April, in her first season on the squad, she ascended to the highest of the game. The win, the varsity’s first title, additionally vaulted her as a hip-hop artist, lifting a profession that has discovered her teaming up with rap royalty.

A minimum of twice up to now 12 months, Johnson staged rap performances inside 24 hours of a recreation or a follow, in a single occasion opening for the chart-topping rapper and singer Rod Wave in Atlanta after touring from Louisiana on a day without work from the court docket. She walked offstage to physique cramps after one other efficiency in November; she had scored 17 factors in a recreation hours earlier than her present.

“I do know that is what I’m speculated to be doing,” mentioned Johnson, 20, a sophomore guard who averages 14.2 factors per recreation and over 62,000 month-to-month listeners on Spotify. “If you wish to be a legend at one thing, you’ve acquired to do one thing no person has finished earlier than and execute it at a excessive stage.”

Johnson’s two careers went into overdrive over the previous 12 months, and he or she’s balancing each as L.S.U. prepares to defend its title within the N.C.A.A. event, beginning with its first-round recreation on Friday. The identical day, Johnson plans to launch “AMF (Ain’t My Fault),” her new tune with the rapper NLE Choppa, who final 12 months requested her and her L.S.U. teammate Angel Reese to look within the video for his single “Champions”; they made cameos alongside different prime athletes together with the boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Mike Tyson. Johnson then requested NLE Choppa to collaborate on “AMF,” which can premiere on Snapchat via a partnership with the social media platform.

“She’s redefining and showcasing the renaissance and the revolution that’s doable in ladies’s sports activities,” mentioned Ketra Armstrong, a professor of sports activities administration on the College of Michigan. “She’s displaying not solely the way you do it, however the way you do it masterfully with out compromising one for the opposite.”

Kia Brooks, Johnson’s mom and enterprise supervisor, estimated that the rapper-hooper has earned practically $3 million from endorsement offers involving her title, picture and likeness, together with partnerships with the audio-equipment maker JBL and the sports activities drink model Powerade. Johnson additionally has a distribution take care of Roc Nation, and is coordinating a music video for an upcoming tune with Lil Wayne, who became a fan throughout the 2023 basketball event. Since late final 12 months, digital camera crews have adopted Johnson for an Amazon Prime Video documentary that may profile her and different star L.S.U. athletes.

Johnson started rapping at 7 years outdated — a few 12 months after taking on basketball — impressed partially by her father. Jason Johnson, a rapper who was generally known as Camoflauge, was fatally shot in 2003 in Savannah, Ga., simply months earlier than Johnson’s beginning, however she mentioned she feels his presence day-after-day. Her first title (pronounced FLAW-zhay) is derived from his stage title, Brooks mentioned, and Johnson usually makes point out of him in her songs. She carried out a tune about gun violence when she competed on America’s Got Talent at 14. In an introspective freestyle over the beat of the Fugees’ “Prepared or Not,” Johnson raps, “They killed by daddy whereas my mama was pregnant, how I’m speculated to really feel?”

“He’s undoubtedly my No. 1 inspiration,” Johnson mentioned. “I get my entire swag from him.”

Whereas in highschool, she posted her music to YouTube, constructing a following that grew alongside followers’ curiosity in her plans as a prime recruit: She publicly introduced her dedication to L.S.U. in a video that additionally promoted the discharge of a brand new tune.

Her off-campus two-bedroom house doubles as a recording studio full with audio system, a microphone and displays. Her jerseys are hung up on the partitions, and the house studio additionally homes her championship ring and pet lizard. She usually composes lyrics throughout flights to away video games and information in her free time. Followers at her reveals will maintain up 4 fingers as she performs — a reference to her jersey quantity.

“I’ve been rapping and taking part in basketball my entire life,” Johnson mentioned. “Now that they see me on completely different levels, they all the time ask, ‘How do you do it?’ However it’s like, I’ve been doing it. Flip up in the summertime, play basketball throughout basketball season after which go on about my day.”

Now, although, the victory lap for final 12 months’s title is over. And simply as she faces challengers on the court docket, Johnson has seen social media commenters attempt to discredit her rap expertise. “Get within the fitness center,” is a standard quip, she mentioned. However she mentioned these jabs solely serve to encourage.

“You may be proficient at a number of issues and I don’t assume individuals are used to seeing that,” she mentioned.