Athletes have pursued careers in music before, ranging from Deion Sanders' 1994 Prime Time album, to Chris Webber's production on Nas' acclaimed 2006 album Hip-Hop Is Dead [click to read]. After just one pro season, albeit impressive, the Carolina Panthers' Running Back Jonathan Stewart told HipHopDX he's got next, with musical ambitions.
"I got one of those keyboards for Christmas when I was probably in second grade. I sat down and [I learned from the tutorial]. I started playing my own music to the music that was playing, all off of ear. I have this natural gift of playing music by ear, even if I didn't know where the keys were," Stewart told DX last week. At Oregon University, the star's love reappeared, "Once I got to college, in my downtime, to unwind my brain from football, I'd sit down at the piano." "My roommates always heard me play my keyboard and the piano. It was soothing for the house, I guess," stated the soft-spoken 22 year old, who holds a Sun Bowl record for rushing yards.
Since his sophomore year in college, after the advice of one of those roommates, Stewart invested in professional-quality equipment, and planned to get into music production. "I bought Reason 3.0 and got creative with it. I started understanding the dynamics of the actual software. And it was fun," revealed the Washington state native.
"As athletes, people look at us as athletes. A lot of people think that because we play football that our main focus is football," Stewart admitted. The NFL second year man said that he's felt stereo-typed based on his artistic passion. "I'm pretty sure there are a lot of athletes that love music. If you think about it, it's part of life [and daily life for athletes]."
The Pro Bowl hopeful is soon to meet one of the more powerful musicians and executive in the business the last five years. "Sometime before August 2nd, when my football camp starts, I'm supposed to be sitting with Akon [click to read] and his music people," said an enthusiastic Stewart. "[I'm there to] just learn and take notes about what they have to say about my music, and how to go about [my career], and hopefully building a relationship with Konvict Muzik and Akon." "What happened was my marketing agency has a connection with a couple music people. Akon's a name that I brought up [and they agreed with]. They said, 'We'll seek out someone that's connected with him and see if they're available to sit down and spend time with you.' So they were open to it, and whenever Akon is off tour, we're gonna try to make that happen."
"When I say Akon, his music, when you listen to what he's saying, it's really not negative. There's good vibes there, for the most part. His music is positive, with a positive tone," added Stewart. The multi-millionaire also added that he is picky about the art his music helps make. "I don't want to hear my music being played and someone degrading women. I'm limited to that factor, but there's a lot to be talked about. If anybody wants to use my beats, I want to maintain my integrity that I have as a person."
"I'm no longer a rookie now. Last year I had a lot of pressures of 'Is he gonna come off his toe surgery and be able to play to the potential that every one wants him to?'" "I got through my rookie season. I believe I had a successful one, except for the fact that we didn't make it to the Super Bowl. Having Deangelo Williams as my double-trouble guy, he's helped a lot coming along with the playbook and just teaching me the ropes of [the game]."
With many one-two combos ultimately pitted against each other in sports, Stewart understands his and Williams' wishes for NFL stardom. "We both want to be a part of this game that we play every Sunday. It doesn't really matter who gets the majority [of carries], just as long as we know that we're out there, givin' it our all, makin' stuff happen." The Running Back added that he aspires to see the Panthers make it to the playoffs, with Super Bowl potential. "We'll see," he closed with an optimistic laugh.
The Carolina Panthers camp opens August 2nd.