By this time in the month, many people are back in the gym trying to take off the pounds they put on over the holidays, and we're doing our part to help with the ultimate NPR workout mix. We're asking people what songs make them move. And it turns out music is just as important for motivating professional athletes as it is for anybody else.


INSKEEP: We caught up with L.A. Lakers forward Matt Barnes after a recent practice. He said before games it's all about one rapper.

MATT BARNES: I listen to Tupac the whole time. So on the car ride in, you know, take my same iPod, put my headphones in, walk to the locker room, while I'm getting treatment, while I'm stretching I'm listening to the music. You know, with Tupac you can't go wrong.

INSKEEP: And Barnes tries to go right with Tupac's "Secretz of War."


TUPAC: (Singing) With my mask on. Do it for profit, plus I'm looking for (unintelligible) if you ain't screaming west side, you can get the - I'm seeing demons, got me hearing screaming, scared to go sleep, watch the scene like a dope fiend.

INSKEEP: Barnes has played for eight different NBA teams in his nine years in the league. Last year, injuries kept him out of much of his first season with the Lakers, but now his team has finally named him a starter. It's not surprising that many of his music picks are about overcoming adversity.


TUPAC: (Singing) You ride with us or collide with us. Look, it's as simple as that for and my...

BARNES: "Secretz of War," it's about, you know, you either ride with our team or you collide with our team. So, basically, he's talking about either you're with us or against us. And that's the kind of music I listen to before games really to get me going. You know, it's us against the world when you step out on that court.


TUPAC: (Singing) If I die, do the same for me, shed no tear. An outlaw thug living in this game for years. Why worry, hope to God, get me high when I'm buried, knowing deep inside only a few love me, come rush me to the gates of heaven...

INSKEEP: Matt Barnes gave us another pick for working out - it's another Tupac classic, "Hold Ya Head."


TUPAC: (Singing) How do we outlast, always get cash, stay strong if we all mash, hold ya head...

INSKEEP: And you can find the ultimate NPR workout mix at We remind you that it's a work in progress, so we still invite you to weigh in with your picks. And before we let Matt Barnes go, we asked if he could choose one workout song for all of his Laker teammates. He hesitated a bit before answering.

BARNES: Maybe "Against All Odds" this year by Tupac because, you know, everyone's really counted our team out.


TUPAC: (Singing) Against all odds, hoping my thugs - know. This be the realest - I ever wrote. Against all odds, up in the studio, getting blowed, to the truest - I ever smoked. Against all odds, hoping my true - know, this be the realest – I ever wrote. I heard he was light skinned, stocky with a Haitian accent, jewelry, fast cars and he's known for flashing. What's his name? Listen while I take you back - and lace this rap, a real live tale about a snitch named Haitian Jack. Knew he was working for the Feds, same crime...

INSKEEP: Work it. This is NPR News.

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