Artest to open for Ludacris, Yung Joc

By Elizabeth Weber

Ron Artest may best be known as an NBA superstar and one of the most controversial active players.

But students at the University will get to see him perform his other occupation – rap artist.

The Sacramento Kings forward will be the opening act for hip hop artists Ludacris and Yung Joc this Friday at Assembly Hall.

Even though Artest is an up and coming artist, this is not the first time he has performed in front of a live audience.

He spent this past summer touring Europe with fellow rapper Fat Joe.

It comes as no surprise that he is not intimidated.

Rather he is flattered at the prospect of working with a hip hop veteran like Ludacris.

“Luda is extremely talented, as both a music artist and an actor,” Artest said in a statement obtained from publicist Heidi Buech. “I(t)’s a big honor to be opening for him.”

Artest is currently promoting his new album, “My World,” which is slated for release on Oct. 31.

He’s also a founder of TruWarier Records.

His record label also produces Allure, an all girl R&B; trio Artest has been known to promote publicly.

Updates and artist info at the label can be found their Web site, http://www.truwarier.com/.

Despite being a top defensive player and launching a music career, Artest’s name is often remembered for the now infamous events that took place on Nov. 19, 2004, in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Artest, then with the Indiana Pacers, had fouled Detroits Pistons center Ben Wallace.

This led to a heated confrontation between the two.

One fan responded to the altercation by throwing his drink at Artest, leading him to jump into the stands.

This caused a fight to erupt between players and fans.

Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season and lost $5 million in salary.

Among the buzz on campus, student reaction to Artest’s musical career has been mixed.

Some refuse to forget his actions two years ago at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

“I kind of feel he wrecked the image of the NBA,” said Joe Paterala, senior in the Institute of Aviation. “I don’t understand how he is a rapper now.”

Kestutis Daugirdas, senior in FAA, agreed.

He also noted a disdain for the way Artest handled himself during the whole ordeal.

“It seems like he got suspended at the same time he was using his publicity to further his rap career, which is sort of a cowardly move in the first place,” he said. “I think if his music could stand on its own, he wouldn’t need to resort to things like that.”

Other students would prefer that Artest keep his job as an athlete along with all other athletes trying to break into the music industry.

“I think I enjoy him enough as a basketball player,” Phillip Imanlihen, senior in AHS, said. “I would not pay money to see him perform as a rapper.”

Kenny Paoli, junior in LAS, agreed.

“I don’t think athletes should make the transition into rapping,” he said. “I think many have tried and failed.”

Casey Dexter, freshmen in LAS, however, remains optimistic about Artest’s future as a musician.

She said she would like to see him rap.

No stranger to criticism, Artest continues to hold his head high.

Looking ahead to Friday’s show, Artest gives a little taste of what the audience can look forward to.

“They can definitely expect a lot of energy, a lot of fun, and hear some good music,” Artest said. “I hope they enjoy my performance.”

Tickets are still available for $35 at general admission price and $10 for students at the box office.

For more information, visit http://www.uofiassemblyhall.com or call 333-5000.