BUFFALO, NY – “All athletes wanna be musicians and musicians wanna be athletes,” said Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson during a The NOC interview. “And if you could do it do it, why not? Even if you can’t who cares?”
Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson had his most successful year this season for Buffalo. Johnson recorded 1,000 yards and seven touchdown hauls for Buffalo this past season. Johnson became the first Buffalo Bill to have back to back 1,000 yard receiving years, which might come as a surprise to some. Buffalo has had great quarterbacks and receivers through the years; Jim Kelly and Andre Reed are just one of each respectively. But in the cold weather climate Buffalo hosts and the heavy run game throughout history that the Bills have produced it has taken time until now.
Not only did sports have an impact on Johnson’s childhood, but music as well. Hip-Hop and rap coincided with sports often throughout Johnson’s life at a younger age.
“When you growin’ up,” said Johnson. “I mean you not necessarily just a football player. We’ve all wrote lyrics.”
Johnson has felt a significant presence of hip-hop and rap influenced throughout his life. Johnson is cousins with rapper William Joseph Crawford, better known as Ya Boy. Ya Boy played a large role towards Johnson’s attraction to rap.
“Up in the ninth grade talking with my cousin and he said ‘yo man you wanna learn to rap?’” said Johnson. “And I was like ‘alright forget it let’s do it.’”
Up until recently, the only songs you could hear of Johnson’s were the tracks released through his mixtape released online for enjoyment for free on websites like hotnewhiphop.com and datpiff.com. Johnson released his mixtape under the name SJ13, which stands for Stevie Johnson and his football number 13. Johnson’s mixtape is titled “Why So Serious?” where he has multiple tracks featuring not only himself but Ya Boy as well. The name of the mixtape came from a t-shirt he displayed in a football game during the 2010-2011 season in a game. Johnson scored a touchdown in the Week 11 game in Cincinnati against the Bengals. Johnson’s shirt read “Why So Serious?” which mocked Bengal receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, who declared themselves Batman & Robin.
Until this month Johnson had only produced minor music that for the majority went unknown to the public and has been playing on his rookie contract from when he was drafted in the seventh round by the Bills. Johnson had one of the biggest days in his musical career the day after he signed his new five-year $36 million contract for the Bills. Thanks to The NOC, Johnson had the opportunity to meet Grammy nominated rapper Jayceon Terrell Taylor, better known as Game.
On March 6 Johnson met Game to talk about Johnson’s interest in rap and to work on Johnson’s new song “Run It Back.” After Johnson spit his hook of “Run it Back” to Game, the veteran hip-hop legend was impressed.
“I thought it was gonna be worse a lot worse,” commented Game. “That’s better than 90% of the hip-hop game right now man.”
Game was so blown away by Johnson’s song and lyrical ambition that he himself wanted to get in on the action himself. Game recorded a verse himself on “Run It Back” and promised Johnson that he would put the new track on his mixtape.
Within two days Johnson took two big steps in his life both on and off the field. Johnson’s big couple days didn’t go unnoticed by Game as well.
“I ain’t got 36 million,” noted Game. “But that’s all you can fly here and do.”
Johnson is the most notable player on Buffalo’s roster. He was pitched very hard by the Buffalo Bills fan base to be resigned by owner Ralph Wilson and General Manager Buddy Nix. Not only does Johnson perform well on the field but he is also dedicated to his fans. His music is something his fan base looks forward to, and something Johnson takes extreme pride in. Johnson has is one of the most interactive athletes towards his fan base, and the music is just one way he gives back to the fans. Since Johnson was drafted in the seventh round by Buffalo, he has had to work for everything in his professional football life. And in result he is a little more free spirited off the field compared to other top-flight football players.
Johnson’s music has always helped fuel his game on the field. He was known in college during his Kentucky Wildcat days for giving pregame speeches in a form of a rap. There is a notable YouTube video of a pregame speech before a game that has over 718,000 hits.
“It ain’t just about puttin’ on this white and blue. If one fights then we all start fighting too,” spits Johnson before a game during his senior season. “We like a crew, better yet we calls a fan. There’s no I on this team cause we a man. Now let’s go.”
Johnson’s creativity is something that has spread through his team now in the NFL. When he was resigned Johnson convinced his quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to shave his head and put a design in the side. Johnson’s creativity is something he spreads from his rap to the rest of his life and it helps fuel his team. When the Buffalo Bills were started 5-2 this past season, Johnson had a heavy part to do with that success. Johnson stated in his interview that rap and sports heavily coexists.
“Drake said it best, ‘I swear music in sports is so synonymous ‘cause we wanna be them and they wanna be us,’” said Johnson.
Lucky for Mr. SJ13 he can be both. The man is talented at both hip-hop and football. Success in both hip-hop and football each feed off of each other. Stevie is a leader on this team and one can only think that he uses his hip-hop pregame speeches in the locker room at The Ralph too. Like famous rapper Drake and Stevie Johnson both said it best, that the two are very similar and can be interchangeable. Stevie Johnson’s talent is something that should not be overlooked and should be put in the spotlight because he is a brilliant rapper. You can find “Run It Back” on soundcloud.com.