Right now—literally—LeBron James, NBA star, is previewing Kendrick Lamar’s forthcoming album Damn on his Instagram Story. He’s reviewing the album, almost track-by-track, with every head nod, exclamation, and fire emoji the captions can accommodate. He’s in his bag, and if you’re one of the 29.4 million accounts who follows him, you can be in your bag too.
Lately, he’s been getting into this; live-reviewing new music on his social channels. While this is the first time a LeBron review has doubled as a quasi-premiere, he’s been doing this for a bit—Kendrick’s first review came with “The Heart Part 4” just a few weeks ago. As a critic, LeBron isn’t a great source of nuance; his default mode is pure, unrestrained excitement. It’s a joy to watch, which is part of the reason why—alongside his status as one of the most famous athletes in the world—people keep watching. But you’re not probably not going to see him pan a record anytime soon.
Given that the Kendrick news will be ripped and posted on sites across the web, including Complex, it seems indisputable: LeBron James must be today’s biggest music critic. Who has greater reach? Who gets exclusives like these? After all, his IG account is the only publication in possession of Kendrick’s album, and he’s sharing it with us. Before that, he previewed Drake’s “Lose You”—text only, though. The cache of #BronReviews has risen quickly—he’s now taken to blatantly previewing new songs we didn’t even know existed, like the intro to the next Meek Mill album (King James is bipartisan), a project without release date or confirmed title even. At this point of influence, there’s obviously some type of coordinated promo at work—how much more gas did Kendrick’s release night just get off of these previews?—but if this is what Bron-branded content looks like then fuck it. As the videos stand now, they’re too damn fun to care.
LeBron tends to review rap exclusively, so his utility isn’t all-encompassing; if you’re looking for country music criticism, he’ll be of little help. But if you want concise feedback about rap, you can’t do better than LeBron wearing a durag while swirling rosé in his driveway, transforming Future’s “I’m So Groovy” ad-libs into performance art. Future by Future—BNM according to King James. He also gave Rick Ross’s most recent album, Rather You Than Me, a resoundingly positive review. The critic’s quote on the sticker affixed to the plastic wrap should read “Rozay in his bag,” with seven exclamation points.
LeBron’s unbridled enthusiasm can unlock the love for a track you didn’t even know you were capable of. I’ve played “The Heart Part 4” approximately 15 times off the strength of Bron annotating “The whole world’s gone mad daddy/Ya sad, daddy/My only advice: Go and get you a bag, daddy” as “Kendrick getting back in his bag” with three fire emojis.
After all this, it’s clear now: LeBron’s inevitable review is the ancillary component when a new fire rap song/album/mixtape/playlist drops. It used to be fun to see what memes and comments Rap Twitter birthed. Now, it’s the King James IG story and caption. Can’t wait for the next one.