Written By Shugabooga
Athletes want to be rappers. Rappers want to be athletes. It’s just the natural order of things.
Unfortunately not many people can do both. Shaquille O’Neil had some success off the court and is probably the closest we’ve had to a crossover star in both worlds. As for the gridiron, although many rappers have put down the cleats and picked up the mic (try to get the image of Deion Sanders singing “Must Be The Money” out of your conscience!), there haven’t been many Sunday afternoon warriors who have been able to make the transition to Saturday night superstars.
Tamba Hali of the Kansas City Chiefs is looking to change all of that with his latest single “The One For Me”, which will be released on his own Relumae label.
The Liberian born Pro Bowler has a lot of stereotypes to overcome in order to get his music out. In addition to bucking the “Athletes can’t be artists” stereotype, Hali faces an additional challenge. As a 6’3, 275 lbs statuesque warrior, Hali stands in stark contrast to the island vibed, afro-punk dance music he’s becoming known for. The visual doesn’t always match the sounds!
“I know people expect me to sound like DMX or this tough rapper, but I’m a laid back guy. I sing, I can rap. You know everytime my music is heard by someone in person they are in awe like ‘is that you’ and they are surprised or start laughing so I’m used to it because when they look at the person and hear the voice they aren’t expecting it. They say ‘the voice don’t match the person’ and I say ‘well I’m sorry-that’s me man!’ “
While the general public and music industry might find it to be a pleasant surprise, the NFL locker room might look at it differently. In a world where the locker room stereo is dominated by Future and the Migos, how to the other players react to Tamba’s up-tempo world music style?
“Fortunately they love the record too! It makes people want to dance. All of the guys who have been around me in the locker room know that I’ve always done music. They really support what I’m doing and they embrace it. I don’t get any slack for it!”
Take a look at Tamba- I don’t think I’d give him any slack for it either!
So now that the locker room embraces the music, it’s only natural to assume that other guys go into the old “Please Listen To My Demo” mode that EPMD warned us about, right?
“There are always guys that come in and rap and want to get on the label. I don’t know how serious those guys are about it. I’m very serious about music so I don’t really share to much with people when it comes to the music because when I’m not playing football I’m truly doing this.”
No time for fake ones- Tamba has work to do.
But music is more than just making songs in the booth and shooting videos. At some point you have to get on stage. You would think that an All Pro Linebacker who plays in front of thousands of people every week on national television would scoff at the pressure associated with a nightclub gig, but as Tamba puts it, it’s just a different kind of nervous.
“Honestly, when I got on stage I was trying not to get distracted by the crowd. I was really focused on the words because I had researched it so many times, and you can get stage fright and get stuck on the words. They are all so focused on you and they are taking it very serious and they expect a good performance!”
A recent opening slot with Wiz Kid in Washington D.C. and Nightclub set have Hali ready for more, and although touring can be tough during the season, he plans on keeping the brand and new music accessible throughout the Chiefs 2017 campaign.
“Just because of the season right now it would be tough to get on the road but I know for sure we’re going to be doing more in Kansas City just to keep up the awareness. But definitely expect more music and then after the season expect more touring.”
An E.P. is on the way as well as more videos, but for the next few months, you’ll see Tamba in his more traditional role, on the gridiron. The Chiefs are no longer a surprise team. Coach Andy Reed has them poised to compete for a Super Bowl birth and he figures to be a huge part of their season’s success. With a captive audience of thousands at Arrowhead Stadium at his disposal 8 times this year, is there any way for Tamba to take advantage of his team’s success to promote his “side hustle”?
“I think because the music is good and clean there won’t be any problems playing it (at the stadium). The city loves what I’m doing because they know I’m very passionate about football as well. I expect to hear the crowd love it, and especially when I get a sack I expect to hear it!”
Needless to say Chiefs fans are hoping to hear an awful lot of Tamba this season!
Download “The One For Me” by Tamba Hali here:
Watch the video for “The One For Me” by Tamba Hali here:
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