The city of Miami is used to superstar athletes. And it’s a music industry city, so it prefers they have a little extra style.
When Dwayne Wade left the Miami Heat to sign with the Chicago Bulls this July, it marked the end of an era. The Miami Heat’s championship-winning dynasty saw LeBron James get more attention, but Wade was revered differently: as a homegrown talent, one who wasn’t lured away as a free agent, but drafted all the way back in 2003. So, who’s going to take his place?
The (Miami) Florida Panthers made the playoffs this year, and the Miami Marlins have 2016 Home Run Derby champ Giancarlo Stanton, but Miami’s never been a hockey town nor a baseball town. There’s basketball and then there’s football, and in football, the bright young hope is Miami Dolphins third-year wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
Landry — nicknamed “Juice” — got drafted out of LSU in 2014 and was an instant NFL spark plug, the type of player who demands his coaches constantly figure out ways to get the ball in his hands. He holds the NFL record for most catches over a player’s first two seasons (194), was the NFL’s highest-rated return man last year, and if lines like those mean nothing to you, just watch this incredible catch.
Landry demands attention on the football field, and with a new football season commencing, he’s an up-and-comer general pop-culture heads should pay attention to as well. Specifically, he’s working on a mixtape.
“It’s a real project, about 65 to 70 percent done,” he tells Billboard, referencing a tweet he sent out last year. NFL notables like Le’Veon Bell and Christine Michael have dropped mixtapes in recent years, so Landry isn’t the torchbearer of a new trend, but what he could do is push it into uncharted, genre-hopping territory. Like many a millennial, Landry’s favorite artist is Drake, but he’s a country fan as well, who’s taken up guitar.
“Being from Louisiana, I was raised around such a music culture, I wanted to develop those same skills with instruments,” he said. David Nail, Brantley Gilbert, Kenny Chesney are among Landry’s country favorites. Toss in that Drake influence, and — what’s that? — a sweet-talking, talk-rapping crossover heartthrob like Sam Hunt?
But unlike Hunt — a Division I college quarterback who gave up pro football for a music career — Landry is a budding NFL superstar and all NFL players (not just budding superstars) have to devote massive amounts of their time towards training and practicing. The remaining 25 to 30 percent of that mixtape could take some time, and even if it’s a pump fake entirely, we’ve already seen him smash a guitar alongside Pitbull, thanks to the Dolphins’ home field being renamed Hard Rock Stadium last month.
It looks like a lot of fun (and it probably is), but Jarvis and the Dolphins would tell you their primary goal is to restore Miami’s winning ways, since the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008. He spoke about all of the above in a recent chat with Billboard.
Do you listen to music to get pumped up before playing?
Of course. Who doesn’t, right? My playlist on game day kind of varies. Some days I may be in an R&B mood and that’s what pumps me up, and some days it may be country, some days it may be hip-hop or just a Drake album. My playlist on game day varies, it always has.
I always hear locker rooms listen to a lot of hip-hop, so it’s interesting you say country, too.
A lot of people would think that rap or whatever is supposed to get you pumped up, but sometimes for me it doesn’t do it; sometimes it’s a love song and I just need to be calm when I take the field. Other times it’s a rap song and I go out and I play with a whole other level of intensity. But at the same time, I’m willing to believe the calmer I am before a game, the better I play.
I know you like Drake a lot. Is he good for listening before games?
Absolutely. Take Care is probably the best album, and it’s probably the slowest one too, but that’s one of the albums I listened to before games in college. That’s one of those albums that made it through the test of time with me in the sports world.
How did you get into playing guitar?
I got into seeing my teammates play. Being from Louisiana, raised around such a music culture, I wanted to develop those same skills with instruments. When I made it to the NFL, one of my teammates used to play in the lobby when we went on break in between our practices and I was like, ‘You know what, pass me your guitar and I’m gonna just learn.’ I got a guy to come help me out. I knew a couple of the basics already. The guy came in and taught me a couple of things. I’ve been a work in progress ever since.
I know, man. I haven’t gotten an opportunity to hookup with him or even had an opportunity chat with him. He’s been to a couple of games. Never really had an opportunity to meet with him though.
What do you think of the Miami Dolphins’ fight song?
I’d say it’s a bit outdated, but it’s history, and I love it. So, maybe we can do the same words and just change the beat. I think that’d be more appealing to the fans.
Have you heard the T-Pain version of the fight song?
No, I haven’t.
Check it out. Though, remember, he did perform for the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl banner raising on opening day last year.
Of course, bandwagoners. That’s what bandwagoners do.
Last year, you tweeted about dropping a mixtape. Were you being serious?
It’s still on the way. I’m still working on it. I’ve been working on it.
It’s a real project you’re working on?
Yes, it’s a real project.
How far are along is it?
It’s about 65-70 percent done.
And, you said no features?
No features. I don’t need no help.
Are you rapping or singing, too? What’s it sound like?
A little bit of everything. I’m not really a singer… but there’s certain things you can do as far as audio filters that kind of makes your voice sound reasonable, so I got a couple of things coming.
Where do you find inspiration for lyrics?
I like to talk about my life. I feel like when you listen to music, it’s almost like the same thing over and over, but of course as time goes on, rappers evolve, lyrical play evolves. So for me — I mean kind of like Drake — if you want to know what I’ve been doing or where I’ve been, listen to my lyrics; it’s all in there. I just try to be honest and put words together.
I know you’re not using features, but who else on the team do you think could spit a guest verse?
Ooooh… I don’t know, that’s a tough one. But I’d have to go with Jay Ajayi. I heard a couple songs that he’s done. I think he’s the one that has a lyrical future.
Did you see [head coach] Adam Gase plays guitar? He jammed with Melissa Etheridge at a charity event.
No, I didn’t… I’ma have to ask about that. That might be somebody else we can add to the Jarvis Landry-Darius Rucker duo.
Winning on the field, and then making awesome music. I’ve been a fan for 20 years, so I’m really excited for what you can do with the new coach.
I feel we got a good squad. We had a good team last year. We lost a couple guys, obviously, this year in free agency, but we had a great team last year. But just with everything going on, it spiraled out of control from coaches to… I don’t think guys not wanting to play, but it just didn’t feel right.
The Dolphins have a rough start to this season, opening on the road against Seattle and New England.
It’s a good measuring stick too; it’s a good way to see where we are. They’re two of the best defenses in the league. It’s a good way to start the season.