The holidays always seem to bring out the best in people. Beginning in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and ending at the start of the new year, an abundance of warm-hearted women, men and children find themselves donating their time and resources to soup kitchens, shelters and toy and clothing drives. Everyday passersby are even met with an increased amount of smiles and other kind gestures during this period. Despite the fact that the routine giving and jolly vibes associated with this time of year are much appreciated and very necessary, ‘tis might also be the season to usher in a new wave of Christmas spirit.
Inspired by the cheer that fills the air towards year’s end, as well as his own personal commitment to spreading messages of diversity, inclusiveness and togetherness through creative content, retired NBA legend Baron Davis created The Black Santa Company. The first piece of content for Davis’ newly-launched disruptive “do-good” media business is Winter Wonderland (which can be streamed here). The holiday-themed mixtape, crafted with love at its core, introduces animated characters Black Santa, Mrs. C., Autumn and others, who perform revamped versions of timeless holiday songs and push key themes synonymous with the holidays and goodwill throughout the 15-track project. A huge fan of animation, children books and storytelling, B-Diddy told REVOLT, “As a company, we felt that we could cover all verticals. We feel that we can reach every demographic of a family if we put out this mixtape. It was a great way to introduce the characters and our story.”
The former All-Star guard, also plans to connect the spirit of the holidays with the community through a series of community-based initiatives, like this past weekend’s celebrity basketball fundraiser. Participants in the fun-spirited charity b-ball game included famous faces like YG, Adam Levine, and Allen Iverson. Here, Baron Davis talks Winter Wonderland, his disruptive media venture and the importance of a Black Santa.
What inspired you to launch The Black Santa Company?
The concept of the company came from me loving African-American history and trying to figure out what would be the best way to teach my kids and to communicate with them. I’m a big fan of animation, children books and storytelling. I figured that nobody has created a company in this vein for us to be able to share the stories and the connections through art, through music and through video that can really connect our culture.
How does Winter Wonderland help to support The Black Santa Company’s mission?
I thought The Winter Wonderland would be a good launch for the company, because music makes the world go around. There also hasn’t been an updated take on Christmas music. Also, people can start initially with this mixtape, get familiar with the characters and buy into their voices from the start.
How were classic Christmas songs like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” chosen to reinterpret for this project?
We really just looked at Christmas music in general. Then it was us looking at the way we were telling the overall story of Black Santa and how he came to be. So for each character there is a song. Like “All I Want” is Autumn’s song. She’s the spirit of Thanksgiving. She’s thankful. It’s her take on wanting to be grateful, thankful, and to experience something that’s natural.
Were you involved in either the creative process behind Winter Wonderland or the design of characters like Black Santa, Mrs. C. and Autumn?
I’ve been involved in every aspect, but I think that the beauty of this company is the fact that there are so many people that have worked on the characters, worked on the music, that have touched the animation. I just have to be the guy that makes sure it’s all cohesive, that the vision is there and that characters have their backstory. It’s really a team effort. The team I’m fortunate enough to work with every day is dope. They really care. They really care about the characters. What’s most important is that they want to give something to the people. They felt like this was a bigger mission and cause to give to our culture and the world.
Do you see yourself, at some point, getting more involved with music?
This summer I am going to put together a tape with all of the basketball dudes that rap, because everybody thinks they can outrap each other [laughs]. Basketball has allowed us to be creatives. Basketball goes hand-in-hand with music, entertainment and now fashion and lifestyle. I just want to continue to open doors for dudes who are talented in other fields. Look at Iman Shumpert, he’s gassing. Damian Lillard had a fresh album that he put out. Victor Oladipo is a good singer. Lonzo Ball raps. There are a few others that rap and really go and got the swag. I love producing and executive producing. But the tape is going to be my next project. Next summer we going to put that out.
For you, what’s the significance of young minorities seeing a Black Santa?
I created this character, because I didn’t really know a Black man that was jolly 24/7, that was happy, that you could trust, that would deliver things, that was giving, that was always looking to bless people, that didn’t have a bad day [laughs]. I grew up without a dad. My grandfather passed when I was a kid. When I travel the world, there’s really no image. There’s no super hero for Black men. There aren’t many positive images out there for us. When looking at the news or looking at the violence or looking at what they say we are or who they think we are, I realized that I needed to find a solution. I said, you know what, I’m going to make the jolliest, nicest, coolest person, so that he can relate to everybody. So now kids - our kids, my kids - can start to see themselves as positive Black people that got the swag, the juice and all of that stuff.
The Black Santa Company also partners with non-profit organizations throughout the year to host charitable events. Could you speak on some of the upcoming projects we should be looking out for?
December 16 we kick off our first big event, and that’s our celebrity basketball game. We got social media influencers like Famous Los and B. A., and musicians like Adam Levine and Casey Veggies playing. We got Allen Iverson and Laura London coasting. YG will be there. It’s a big thing. Basketball is a big thing in LA, especially around the holiday time with everyone trying to resemble their favorite NBA players. Matt Barnes is also playing. We have some NBA greats and retired players playing, so it’ll be a fun game. It’s for the community. To me, the most important thing is that we get to have a clinic before the actual game and it’s free for kids. We actually got 200 kids signed up via the email to be a part of this free clinic, and really it’s all volunteers, all the dudes I played at UCLA with and a lot of my NBA homies as well. It’s about the beauty of the community and giving back during this time of the season, while being disruptive in the content and entertainment that we bring.
Over the summer you tweeted, “I can avg 12pt 6asst next year. In the NBA. #comebackplayeroftheyear.” If you could play in the NBA this season, what team would you want to make a comeback with?
If I came back and played for the league I would want to play for the Lakers. I always wanted to play for the Lakers. If I couldn’t play for the Lakers. It would be for the Golden State Warriors, obviously [laughs]. And then I would say the Knicks. The Knicks would be the last team, because that was the team I got hurt on, and it would be crazy if I could play with them.
I can avg 12pt 6asst next year. In the NBA. #comebackplayeroftheyear— Baron Davis (@BaronDavis) July 3, 2017
Tell us about your upcoming scripted television show.
I have a show that I just finished that is like a Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Friday, that’s about my life. It’s weird, but it’s funny. It’s more of me poking fun at myself than anything. We should expect that top of the year.