From All-Star Basketball Trainer to Executive Producer, Chris Brickley Is Maximizing His Connections

From All-Star Basketball Trainer to Executive Producer, Chris Brickley Is Maximizing His Connections

For those who live at the intersection between basketball and hip-hop, the quote “all ballplayers want to be rappers, and all rappers want to be ballplayers” becomes more of a reality every day. But in the case of Chris Brickley, he’s a massive reason why the traffic goes both ways. While the popular trainer has become known for his workouts and pick-up games, which have featured multi-platinum rappers Drake and J. Cole and NBA All-Stars Trae Young and Kevin Durant, he’s established himself as a creative who wears multiple hats, with one more entering his collection: executive producer.

Welcome to the Grind, scheduled to come out later this year, is Brickley’s way of creating the perfect soundtrack for those working on their game. “Music has always been a part of my life,” Brickley tells Billboard for the set of his music video “Comfortable,” featuring New York MCs Dave East and Jadakiss. “From my mom being a talented musician to my father attending concerts all the time, music is in my genes.” With the album’s first single, the Lil Durk-assisted “IKEA Rug,” released in February, Brickley says fans should expect records that reflect the moods that exist in workouts– serious, fun, and a reminder to turn up when necessary.

Even though this is his first time doing a music project, the Blacks Op Basketball founder has support from some of the game’s best lyricists, notably East, who later expressed how “Brickley is a part of the culture and brings it all together.” Yet, for Brickley, this is simply an opportunity to explore further an interest he holds high regard for and wants to do justice.

Billboard connected with Chris Brickley to discuss what it’s been like making Welcome to the Grind, being a bridge that connects people, and more.

What serves as the inspiration behind naming your project Welcome to the Grind?

Even though the title is aimed toward athletes with grinding in the gym, it’s meant for everyone. Life is a grind, and everyone experiences it, whether you’re a postal worker, a journalist, or someone that works on Wall Street. I’ve had some tragedies growing up, and things weren’t always easy — so to become what I am now, Welcome to the Grind is meant to be inspirational.

I want you to listen to this project before doing anything — which could be trading stocks. [Laughs.] Welcome To The Grind is all about inspiring people to live their everyday lives despite dealing with adversity.

Once your album-making process got underway, how did you find records and convince artists to be on them?

At first, it was about reaching out to artists and asking for a song. Once I got those songs, my mind then went to “Who else can I get on them?,” especially after it worked. More artists began reaching out to me about being on the project once they heard of certain collaborations. Various producers sent me beat packs.

It’s been exciting to have the hottest artists in the game want to be a part of this project — and at the same time, humbling when I remember I was just asking for a song at first. But now I get to bring people together.

How much of your training experiences are influencing the sound of this project?

It’s very influential in how my relationship with each player and artist is the reason it’s coming together. In the same way, I want to build with any player I’m working with, and make sure they’re improving; the same goes for the artists on this project. Relationships mean everything to me, and I’m grateful for how I can go to people when I’m going through something and vice versa.

Considering your connections to many people, are you happy to be a bridge that connects anybody?

It’s priceless. Between putting together the workouts, Black Op runs, and now this album, I’m happy to inspire people, especially the youth. There’s a kid who could be watching me and think if I become a better rapper, ballplayer, or anything else, there’s a chance I could connect with Chris Brickley or be like him with anything I do in life. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be a bridge that connects people and provides examples of how you could work hard and be yourself.

Out of all the pick-up games you’ve had involving artists, which one stands out?

There are two of them! The first time J. Cole played in NBA open run and when Drake, Justin Bieber, Quavo, and Sheck Wes played against each other. Both of those games were incredible to me. I remember Cole playing against nine other NBA guys, who were playing at a high level, and he makes two game-winners. And the run with Drake, JB, Quavo, and Sheck was great because — how many times will you see them in the same gym, hooping like that?

From All-Star Basketball Trainer to Executive Producer, Chris Brickley Is Maximizing His Connections For those who live at the intersection between basketball and hip-hop, the quote “all ballplayers want to be rappers, and all rappers want to be ballplayers” becomes more of a reality every day. But in the case of Chris Brickley, he’s a massive…