STEVIE JOHNSON BLOG: Buffalo's WR talks music
Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson is an aspiring hip-hop artist who shares his musical world throughout the season via his "Listen Up with SJ13" blog.
By STEVIE JOHNSON
This is my first blog on music for SOTL.com, so let me begin with some of the reasons I'm so passionate about this topic.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area I was fortunate to meet a lot of people in the music industry. My step-father was a successful producer who had several hits, both mainstream and underground, and through him I met a lot of talented artists. Recently I collaborated with The Game to produce a track called "Run It Back."
Another relative who took me inside the music industry is my cousin, YB the Rockstar. When I was still in high school YB taught me how to arrange my rhymes to tell a story and convey my message to listeners. He helped me with composition and putting a song together so that my music had continuity.
I also have been inspired simply by watching YB work. He puts so much effort into his craft, and seeing him infuse a studio session with so much heart reminds me that I'll need to work at least that hard if I'm going to have success with my music.
Now then, here are some insights to the music that moves me, and also some thoughts about music and the NFL:
There really isn't any difference between what I listen to before or after a game. Some of my Buffalo Bills teammates want music that really gets them hyped before a game, and starts the adrenaline pumping, which I totally understand. For me, music puts me in a zone, almost a trance. It allows me to focus on the upcoming game or practice. But I still like to vary what I listen to, whether it's Rap, Hip Hop or R&B.
Most NFL fans probably will be at least a little surprised to discover I also like Indie Rock and even a little Country. You can definitely find me listening to Blake Shelton every once in awhile.
With that in mind, here are 6 songs that really work for me right now.
1. "We Are Young" = Fun.
2. "So Much More" = Big Sean.
3. "Goldie" = ASAP Rocky.
4. "Got My Hood Turnt" = YB the Rockstar & Nipsey Hussle.
5. "What You Need" = The Weekend.
6. "Different" = Two Chainz.
I don't know what the rules are on playing music in other NFL locker rooms, but here's how we do it with the Bills:
Typically, Nick Barnett and I are the DJs in charge of what plays in Buffalo's locker room. Nick went to Oregon State and is from the southern part of California, so he tends to go with more West Coast-influenced music. That's fine with me, since I also have California roots. But while the locker room music comes out of Nick's speakers some of our teammates do have headphones on, so they can listen to their own playlists.
Guys also can go to other listening areas, but usually Nick and I take care of the music for the bulk of the roster in the locker room. No one ever complains about our playlists, and we always welcome requests from the entire team. The only real rule is that if there's a request from our Pro Bowl DT, Kyle Williams, we play it right away. We always listen when a 300-pound guy speaks up.
But seriously, you always want to be mindful and respectful of everyone in the locker room, with music and everything else. But I wouldn't say there's any strict etiquette. I'm sure some teams require the music to be tamer or have fewer curse words, but I look at the locker room as the space inside our practice facility where players should feel comfortable at all times and not be worried about what others might think of the music.
One musical issue that came up in the NFL during the preseason involved Robert Griffin III and one of the Washington Redskins' broadcasters, Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. RGIII was wearing headphones on the field before a preseason game, listening to music, and Mr. Jurgensen decided to criticize that during his broadcast. Since then, RGIII hasn't worn headphones during warmups.
Here's what I'd say about that:
I have a tremendous amount of respect for someone like Mr. Jurgensen, an all-time NFL great who helped build the league into what it is today. But still, I don't think he or anyone else should criticize a player for wearing headphones during warmups. That's just a case of looking too hard for something to criticize, I think. In no way is the performance of RGIII or his Redskins team going to be affected by him listening to music during warmups. He and all other NFL players who do that are merely trying to get focused or in their zone, and their music helps them do that.
And who knows? Maybe RGIII was listening to a coaching tip, or scouting reports or some reminders for the game that he recorded for himself. RGIII is a team leader who knows his role and who is going to do the things that have always helped him make his team successful. As a rookie quarterback who instantly became the face of his franchise he already has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, so why criticize him and add more? In Buffalo, the Bills players never would go to Ryan Fitzpatrick or Nick Barnett or Kyle Williams and tell them how to conduct their pregame routines. They're professionals, they're getting in their zone with methods that work for them, and we trust all of them to be ready at kickoff.
But let's finish on a lighter musical note.
When you hear Faith Hill sing the Sunday Night Football theme song it's a good feeling, because you know the season is finally here. I usually don't watch other teams' games unless they involve a future opponent, but when Faith's song comes on a sense of excitement definitely hits you. Still, I think they should mix it up a little bit. Faith Hill is a superb artist, but why not have something a little different each week? Maybe something that represents the teams and the cities that are playing?
That's it for this week. Let me know what you think of my mini-playlist, either in the comments section or on Twitter (@StevieJohnson13 ). And please give the Bills a shoutout as we take on the New York Jets on Sunday.
The Buffalo Bills WR is an aspiring hip-hop artist who shares his musical world throughout the season via his "Listen Up with SJ13" blog. Coming out of Kentucky, the 6-2, 210-pound Johnson wasn't drafted until the seventh round in 2008. But he exceeded all expectations with 82 catches for 1,073 yards in 2010. That breakout season led to him being named the Vizio Top Value Performer for being the NFL player who outplayed his salary by the widest margin.