Ballout's 'Ballin No NBA' Mixtape Cover Is Very Beautiful, Bizarre, and Important

Sittin' Sidewayz... With Skinny Friedman

By Andrew Friedman


What was the most important thing to happen in Chicago rap this weekend? Was it Kanye premiering two provocative, challenging new songs on the sides of buildings and on Saturday Night Live? Nope, it was when Chief Keef leaked the mixtape art for Ballout’s new tape Ballin No NBA.

The art depicts Ballout ballin’ in both senses of the word: he’s playing basketball and buying a lot of expensive shit at the same time. He is shown mid-dunk, wearing a Hermes belt over his Bulls jersey (which is number #3hunna, naturally). He doesn’t even have opponents; he’s just dunking on a bunch of duffle bags and shopping bags, and also some loose bills and a basketball for good measure. With his left hand, Ballout carelessly lets his double-cup spill all over the parkay floor. Presumably it will be sopped up by a GBE towel girl with an LV towel made of the finest Egyptian cotton.

The court in Ballin No NBA is also apparently a high-end shopping district. The witnesses to whatever game he’s playing are Gucci, Louis, Versace, Neiman and True Religion. It says a lot—maybe everything—that True gets the same billing as these signifiers for fashion excellence, but then again the True Religion store appears to actually be inside Neiman Marcus. Meanwhile, the hoop itself looms almost twice as tall as all the stores, yet appears to be posted behind the buildings. A jumbotron dangles over the whole landscape.

The skewed perspective suggests worlds in conflict. “Rapper does two things at once” is a recurring motif in album art and content. It usually serves to illustrate the conflicting worlds and resultant cognitive dissonance that they face, as in TI’s TI v. TIP or Master P’s Good Side, Bad Side. But Ballout isn’t struggling with identity as much as he is subliminating into visual metaphor. His spending is so lavish he bends his surroundings into an alternate universe; the boutiques fade into the distance at near light-speed and the giant rim appears from the ether to meet him. If this is the case, the light bursts in the background are less likely to be fireworks than artifacts of the relativistic Doppler effect.

The tape itself just dropped and I haven’t listened to it yet. It has a song called “Diamonds For Everyone” on it; one can assume Ballout has diamonds to give to everyone because he keeps stealing them from Soulja Boy.


Skinny Friedman woke up in a new Honda Civic. He's on Twitter - @skinny412

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