Stop and think about all of the references you hear in lyrics across the number of genres about musicians wanting to be athletes and vice-versa. Now stop and think about the number of songs that were written and recorded about athletes and sports in general. It’s not hyperbole. We’re talking decades from “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio” which would have your grandmamma and papa bouncing around the dance floor to the evolution of Lil’ Waynereferencing Lane Kiffin during on a verse over a sampled Noreaga track from the 90’s.
Who can forget about the most obvious one of all-time and that’s the Boss’ “Glory Days”? What baseball game have you been to since the release of that album and it NOT been played?! The point being that sports and music have never been mutually exclusive. The requirements to thrive within the cultures of the two are homogeneous. Athletes and teams thrive off music and use it almost like a drug to get them into whatever mood is needed for the situation.
It’s not an easy task to pull back the curtain and reveal (albeit a fraction) a young man that one day following what should be a record-setting college career as well as (Lord-willing) lucrative and championship pro career. Taking into account that he is one of the most mild-mannered (which is shy) persons you’ll meet when talking about anything including football, you would think this would be even tougher. Not in this case. The sense received was he’d rather talk anything but football. A welcomed distraction in every sense almost. If you get to know him better, he’s liable to talk to you about football third at best behind music and family.
His swag might be closer to that of Wynton Marsalis or Charlie Parker, yet his flow on the field is as raw and on point as Outkast, Jay-Z or UGK. His personality is enigmatic like Kanye and the consequences for throwing at him can hit you hard in the face like the Lex Lugar-Produced “BMF: Blowing Money Fast” by Rick Ross. His pick-six against Miami Central was as cold-blooded as 2Pac’s verse on “Hit ‘Em Up.” When you see that #22 jersey in blue & white along with the Hawk on the side of his helmet lined-up back there, you can’t miss him just like the unmatched sound that you heard when The Neptunes hit the scene.
Leon McQuay III (or L3 for short) not only wants to entertain you on the gridiron and with that million-dollar smile, he wants to get you out of your seats in a different fashion. L3 is one of those examples of an athlete possessed with supreme talent in all phases of his life deciding to pursue another dream and that’s to showcase his creativity behind a sound board and make hits like his ability to improvise on routes and make plays. From the sounds of it, the uber-talented DB may even get you started while playing his music at a tailgate in addition to the dancing in your stadium seats on Saturdays.
“I was always into music, but it really got started like two summers ago when I downloaded this program [FL Studio] that my cousin showed me and it took off from there.” That same mixing software is used to this day by the aforementioned sound architect to put out some of the hottest songs in the mainstream and underground downloaded mixtapes at the moment. The software itself is revolutionizing the “game” and bringing the ability to any aspiring producer to do it just as big as the fellas on the flyers and the cover of magazines.
He goes on to say that Hip-Hop is his favorite genre and he would rather be on the actual music production side than any other aspect of the business. L3’s influences are in most part a collection of artists that have done it as big as anybody in ‘the game’ which in case refers to the highly competitive and sometimes dangerously financial risk that is the Hip-Hop industry.
“My favorite artists are Kid Cudi, 2Pac, Kanye (West), J. Cole, and Chiddy Bang; my favorite producers are Kanye West, Lex Lugar and The Neptunes. ” says L3. When asked what it was about Pharrell and Chad that stood apart from the others he had this to say. ”It’s just really different. You can always point out a Neptunes beat even barely listening to the song. They just have a really distinct sound.”
Like all genres of music, Hip-Hop contains boorish stereotypes and fans and artists with tastes for music that get lampooned. Much like the chicken & egg controversy, most heads argue which comes first in the foundation whether it is the beat or is it the lyrical flows that make it happen. Leon breaks down his feelings about the debate with a response rather befitting of his supremely sharp mind. “I’m lyrics over beats. I don’t really like listening to meaningless music. If the beat is really good, I’ll download the instrumental and listen to that.”
He says he doesn’t remember his first album (or in his case probably CD) listened to or purchased, and also says his Mother being from the Cayman Islands doesn’t influence his taste in music either now or growing up. His answer to the question of comparing his style of play to a particular flow or aura from any MC is classic; and simply impossible to argue.
“I would say my play is like Jay-Z because he’s like a really cool, chilled-out dude outside of music (from what I know), but when he gets on a track his music speaks for itself and he always delivers.”
Now Mr. Sean Carter is borderline known for everything BUT his classic albums in comparison to the fact he’s married to “one of the hottest chicks in the game” like he states on one of his cuts off the “Black Album.” He’s the Co-Owner of the New Jersey Nets and makes friends with Russian billionaires and moves professional sports franchises to his neighborhood like Mayflower takes your couch from point A to point B. He also has so many classic verses over so many classic beats produced by the Mt. Rushmore of Producers even beyond Hip-Hop. It’s only natural that L3 would choose this innovator and trend-setter as the subject of his analogy.
Leon has his favorite though. Being a rather fervent consumer of Hova, he got inundated with virtually every question known by yours truly at this point in the conversation regarding (pretty much) the entire catalogue of albums, but he’s sticking to one of the hottest selections from “The Blueprint”.
“I like (the song) ‘The Takeover’. We (Armwood) use a couple of quotes from it at game time.” The song and its lyrical content are completely congruent with the style that his team plays with; it’s a verbal assault on some of the biggest names in the industry (Nas and Mobb Deep). It makes perfect sense when you realize that they took on some of the bay area’s best programs and defeated them along with a season that began and ended with victories over national-level talent in Gorman and Miami Central.
L3 does admit that he’s thought about a school that has an actual major that incorporates the foundation of a career in music afterwards as part of the decision, however by no means will it override the other factors in his decision. One thing that’s interesting to note however is two of his favorite schools are located within the epicenters of the music business.
Here’s a hint. One contains the home of such legends in the game as Dre and Snoop, while the other is where our favorite steel guitars have been picked and played on the Grand Ole Opry on a Saturday night.
Take it for what it’s worth since both programs are on the rise quicker than the “dough” he stands to make one day regardless of career choice.
Recruiting Trail Update: Also was able to get brought up-to-speed regarding one of L3’s teammates at Armwood, Mr. Kyle Gibson and here’s the 411:
“Everything’s good, not too much has changed with my recruiting within the past few weeks. The offseason has been great. I’m getting stronger and faster. I still just have 1 offer from UCF and interest from Vanderbilt and USF. When asked about his thought-process regarding his decision he said, “The biggest factor at this time in my decision would probably be playing time.” Kyle also points to the national stage from the beginning of the year against Bishop Gorman as his biggest impression. “I think it would have to be the Vegas game, it was a whole new experience. It was my first varsity game too.”