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Stephen Jackson delivers on hardwood and mixtape

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Photo illustration by Chuck Kerr

It's one hour before tip-off and Stephen Jackson is feeling it. With Spurs Assistant Coach Mike Budenholzer in tow, Jackson flashes to various spots on the AT&T Center hardwood calmly sinking jumper after jumper without breaking a sweat. San Antonio's favorite prodigal son punctuates his pre-game workout with an almost effortless bounce dunk, suggesting that despite playing only two games on his new home court, Jackson is comfortably at ease.

The Spurs go on to rout Philadelphia, 93-76, with Jackson contributing 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals in about 20 minutes against the 76'ers. Despite committing 5 turnovers, the 6-8, 220-pound baller brings an undeniable swagger to the floor. Jackson's efforts on the defensive end are clearly infectious and one of the reasons local hoops pundits are still celebrating the trade that reunited him with his former team and shipped the often maligned Richard Jefferson to the Golden State Warriors.

Growing up in Port Arthur, Jackson's influences were not limited to the realm of basketball. Hip-hop was a constant companion; Texas acts like UGK and the Geto Boys are imbedded in his DNA. Over the years Jackson has dabbled in music, and during the NBA's recent stoppage of play he embraced the opportunity to step back to the mic. Recorded in less than two months, "What's a Lockout" officially introduced the entertainment world to Stak5, Jackson's polished hip-hop persona. The mixtape features 19 total tracks that showcase trill culture and verisimilitude, peppered with hoops references.

"What's A Lockout" gets off to a solid start with "Everythang A Go" a loping track that presents the project's key themes of money, clothes, and cars. Other standouts include "All Black," featuring a blistering Black Power verse from Texas icon Scarface, and the synthy yet rugged "Stand Up," spotlighting Port Arthur legend Bun-B. Stak5 holds his own on each cut, displaying a vibrant bark that resembles a young, albeit more melodic Bushwick Bill. The mixtape's strongest cuts "The Season" and "Where I'm From" offer a glimpse into Jackson's mercurial NBA-centered psyche: the former cleverly utilizes a Chris Broussard sample to dismiss the league's lockout, while the latter offers a candid reflection on the infamous "malice at the Palace." Next up for Stak5 is "Trill Mixes," a new collaboration with DJ Scream featuring interpolations of commercial rap's more notable bangers. A San Antonio debut performance is currently in the works, but for now fans must make do with the sweet music Jackson is currently making with his teammates on the court.

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