Los Angeles Lakers star Ron Artest has long flirted with the music industry throughout his basketball career. Now, the small forward from Queensbridge has partnered with SMC Recordings to launch an independent record label Artest Media Group.

“I am really happy to partner with SMC,” said Artest. “This will be my first real shot of getting the music of myself and my new artists out. I love music and I love my fans so I am looking forward to sharing this with them.” (AllHipHop.com)

The San Francisco-based SMC Recordings – which is home to artists like Rakim, Capone-N-Noreaga and the Pack – will distribute the artists signed to Artest’s newfound label. Artest will be announcing his label’s line-up of signees in early 2011.

“Partnering with Ron Artest and his Artest Media Group puts us in an incredible position for acquiring new artists,” said Ralph Tashjian, CEO of SMC Records. “Ron’s passion for the music and entertainment business, as well as his incredible reach to already established Hip Hop acts, makes this a perfect marriage.” (AllHipHop.com)