(Getty Images)Philadelphia Eagles star receiver DeSean Jackson grew up in and around Compton, Calif., when that area was the rap capital of the world. Though he went a different way with what has been a highly productive football career, Jackson hasn’t forgotten his roots, and his background has left him with an intense desire to express himself with a rap career of his own.
“I just want people to understand and get to know the real DeSean,” Jackson recently told Yahoo! Sports. “That culture for hip-hop was huge, and I had a passion for it at an early age.”
Jackson’s been one of the NFL’s fastest receivers since the Eagles selected him in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, and he’s always been one of the league’s toughest players to catch in a straight-up race. Just as he has sought to move past those who wondered if he’d ever succeed at this level. Now, he’s moving just as quickly in the direction of a bigger life in music.
“People always doubted me, saying that I’d never go to Long Beach Poly [High] and make it,” Jackson said. “That I’d never go to Cal and make it. There’s something about me that keeps being excited to prove everybody wrong. It’s like the critics who say, ‘Why is he rapping?’ It’s cool; I’ll just keep proving them wrong.”
Jackson was known for his blinding speed, even as a kid — he used to chase the ice cream trucks for blocks and eventually catch it, and opposing coaches would ask Jackson’s coach to move him to different positions on youth football, because their players couldn’t keep up with him. Rap was just as important to him, as it is now.
“Through the music, I think [people] will get to know me and the struggles I went through in life. I can give it to them on the tracks, so people can understand the real me.”
Jackson writes much of his music on his smartphone, and then brings friends and collaborators in to finish things off. “We work great as a unit, and we motivate each other.”
“Sometimes we write separately,” Anthony Moore, one of Jackson’s collaborators, said. “Or, he’ll have a song he’s working on, and we’ll walk into the studio and vibe off of that. DeSean brings that on-field energy into the studio.”
Jackson’s place of prominence in the NFL has allowed him time with some of rap’s biggest names, and the most important one so far is the addition of noted producer L.T. Hutton to the project. Hutton, who’s worked with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to Nate Dogg and many more, will have Jackson’s upcoming album on his own Jaccpot label.
“Over the last five months, we’ve put together probably 120 tracks,” Jackson said. “I have a slim chance of making it in the music industry. It’s a risk, [and there are] no guarantees. But I’m a firm believer in having one life, and living that one life up.”